For Obama, Oklahoma support is slow

Feb 15, 2009
In The News

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama had his worst showing in Oklahoma in last year’s election, and so far he hasn’t gotten much support from members of the state’s mostly Republican congressional delegation.

Republicans from Oklahoma have opposed his stimulus plan, an expansion of the children’s health care program, fair pay legislation and some of his key cabinet appointees.

But GOP lawmakers and the state’s lone Democrat in Congress said there would be opportunities for bipartisanship, if the president is serious about it.

"They have to do a lot more than just conduct a charm offensive,” said Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore.

Cole and other Oklahomans said that Republicans were shut out of the process of writing the $780 billion stimulus bill and that most GOP amendments were voted down on party lines.

Rep. Dan Boren, D-Muskogee, said that the stimulus bill was a missed opportunity for the new president.

"You can’t just meet with them (Republicans) and say, ‘This is the way it’s going to be done,’” Boren said.

"I think you actually have to take some of their proposals and make them part of the bill.”

Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Cheyenne, described the new president, who was inaugurated nearly a month ago, as "green.”

"He’s got a little bit to learn about how Congress works,” Lucas said.

Same as under Bush?

Oklahoma lawmakers said the situation wasn’t any different under Republican rule.

Cole said the two parties worked together on some legislation early in former President George W. Bush’s first term, but relations changed after the war in Iraq began in 2003.

"We should have learned from past mistakes when Republicans were in control,” Boren said. "They passed a lot of bills with just Republican support, and that’s why I think they’re in the minority now.”

In a speech on the Senate floor last week, Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, said united Republican opposition to the stimulus package could work to the GOP’s advantage in the elections next year.

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