The Oklahoman: GOP accomplishments in Congress are worth noting

Click here to read at The Oklahoman

UNDER Republican control of Congress, lawmakers have advanced modest but sensible proposals that were previously stymied under Democratic control. Yet many conservative activists decry this as a do-nothing Congress.

That conservatives hoped for more from a Republican Congress is understandable. But expectations must be tempered by political reality. So long as Barack Obama is president, progress on the nation's most pressing challenges will be exceedingly difficult. Many national policy failures originated with Obama, and he remains committed to preserving those mistakes regardless of the consequences to citizens.

Nonetheless, this Congress has been far more productive than its predecessors. Admittedly, that bar was set low given the severe dysfunction under Democratic control. Consider this: There were more votes cast in the U.S. Senate during the first two months of this year's session than in the last two years under the leadership of Democratic Sen. Harry Reid.

And lawmakers have done more than simply vote. For the first time since 2009, the House and Senate have both passed a budget plan with those proposals outlining a gradual path to a balanced budget. Appropriations bills have advanced from committees on schedule.

Such accomplishments are more procedural than substantive, but represent progress and lay the groundwork for improved budget planning.

More significant measures also have advanced. Legislation authorizing construction of the Keystone pipeline was sent to the president's desk (Obama vetoed it). A major trade promotion act was approved, opening the door for consideration of free-trade agreements in the Pacific region. Rewrites of the federal No Child Left Behind education law have advanced (a process Democrats delayed for eight years). An effort to target human traffickers has advanced.

Under the leadership of Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, bipartisan agreement is forming to significantly revise the Toxic Substances Control Act for the first time since its 1976 enactment, which could restrain the power of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Those are all goals conservatives broadly support. Virtually none would have advanced under Democratic leadership.

“This has been a much more successful session of Congress than most people recognize,” Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore, told The Oklahoman editorial board. “It's passed more legislation, done more significant things, and operated more efficiently.”

Still, conservatives hoped for more, understandably so. With full control of Congress, many expected Obama would be forced to at least veto more bills, including repeal of unpopular Obamacare provisions. Many expected Obamacare's tax on medical devices to be quickly repealed, partly because many Democrats are on record opposing it. That hasn't happened — yet.

Inhofe says there are strategic reasons to delay some votes, noting Democrats will face greater pressure (and may therefore be more likely) to support repeal of the medical device tax in an election year.

But even if congressional Republicans are ultimately able to overcome Obama vetoes on select issues, those victories will be limited in scope.

Obama successfully advanced much of his agenda because his party held the presidency and supermajority control of Congress in 2009 and 2010. Until Republicans hold similar leverage, the effort to roll back the worst abuses of the Obama regime will be a slow, plodding process.

Conservative voters need to brace themselves for a long, drawn-out fight — and keep up the pressure on Congress, not throw up their hands and declare there's no difference between the parties.

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The Lawton Constitution

Tulsa World: Oklahoma’s GOP National Committeeman: Defund and investigate Planned Parenthood

Click here to read at Tulsa World

Human life begins at conception. Even some pro-choice advocates agree with that. Jodi Jacobson of Reproductive Health Reality Check says she believes life begins at conception but that a fertilized egg is not a person. “The development of a potential human life requires conception as a first step. But that is not the same as either pregnancy or personhood,” Jacobson says.

Peter Singer, professor of Bioethics at Princeton, says, “The fallacy in the anti-abortion argument lies in the shift from the scientifically accurate claim that the fetus is a living individual of the species Homo sapiens to the ethical claim that the fetus therefore has the same right to life as any other human being. Membership of the species Homo sapiens is not enough to confer a right to life.” To the liberal the issue is not whether life exists in the womb, but whether that life is worthy of the right to live outside the womb?

The more fundamental issue in the abortion debate is ownership: Who actually owns the unborn life in the womb? Pro-choicers believe it is the woman carrying the child. After all, it’s her body, she has a right to do with her body what she wants. If she wants to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, it’s her choice. Pro-lifers believe that only God, as the Creator, is the giver of life. Through creation, He owns His creatures and can therefore do with His creation and creatures as He sees fit. The abortion debate has been spawned from Darwinism. If God didn’t create, then He doesn’t have any right to ownership. Now to the Planned Parenthood controversy.

Planned Parenthood was started in the early twentieth century by Margaret Sanger to educate families on birth control. Since 1970, Planned Parenthood has received federal funding to provide contraception and family planning information to Americans. Through the years, the mission of the organization has changed. Planned Parenthood is the largest provider of abortions in the U.S. About one third of its funding comes from a combination of federal, state and local tax dollars. By law, the federal monies given to Planned Parenthood are not supposed to be used to provide abortions. Planned Parenthood has 85 offices with 27,000 staff and volunteers across the U.S., including five offices/clinics in Oklahoma. Recently, the group has come under fire when a secretly recorded video was released showing a Dr. Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood’s senior director of medical services, talking with actors posing as medical researcher about selling aborted fetus parts.

After the video was released, elected officials scrambled to lead the charge to defund Planned Parenthood. U.S. Sen. James Lankford, (R-OK), said in an emotional speech on the Senate floor: “I would tell you that child has value. And that every single adult that can hear me right now was once 20 weeks old in the womb, and we can look at each other and understand the difference between that child in the womb and any of us now is time. That's a human being we're talking about.” Senator Lankford led the charge to defund Planned Parenthood in the Senate. The measure failed to get the necessary 3/5 (60 votes) in the Senate, falling short 53-46. Both Senators Lankford and Inhofe voted yea. Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell (R- KY) and Mark Kirk, (R-IL) voted with 44 Democrats to kill the bill. Senator Inhofe says defunding isn’t enough — Planned Parenthood needs to be investigated.

One issue that has been overlooked in the controversy is the fact Planned Parenthood is a non-profit organization. They enjoy tax-exempt status as a 501(c)(3). While they get tax dollars, they don’t pay taxes. Two years ago during testimony before the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee, a pro-life group from Iowa testified they were told by the IRS they would be required to sign a letter promising to not protest at Planned Parenthood facilities in order to get a 501(c)(3) status. No such restrictions are placed on Planned Parenthood. They operate with impunity, no matter which political party is in power. They promote their liberal agenda and their activism is celebrated. If a church takes a political position, they run the risk of jeopardizing their non-profit status.

Sen. Inhofe is right. Planned Parenthood should be investigated. It is very likely they are selling fetal tissue without consent. Their liberal agenda should be exposed for what it is and their tax exempt status revoked. Americans should be outraged their tax dollars are going to an organization intent on killing our next generation and selling their body parts.

Steve Fair is National Committeeman for the Oklahoma Republican Party.

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ICYMI: Inhofe Q&A with Defense Sec. Ash Carter and Gen. Martin Dempsey on FY'16 DOD Budget

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), Wednesday questioned Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Of Staff Gen. Martin E. Dempsey on the global security environment and the readiness of our military at the SASC hearing on the “Department of Defense’s authorization request for Fiscal Year 2016 and the Future Years Defense Program.”

During the hearing, Inhofe highlighted deficient readiness levels of the services, which as stated by Gen. Dempsey are “at the lower ragged edge of manageable risk in our ability to execute the defense strategy.” Sec. Carter agreed with Inhofe that our military is at increased risk due to the overall readiness of our force, occurring during a period of security challenges not experienced in our lifetime.  Inhofe drove home the point that we cannot continue to cut the defense budget and put at further risk our nation’s military readiness.

inhofe with carter and dempsey

Click here to watch the Q and A

INHOFE:Now you said something that I think is more significant. You said even with the fiscal year '16 budget, the Army, Navy and Marine Corps won't reach their readiness goals until 2020, and the Air Force until 2023. Is that accurate?

CARTER: What's going on there is digging ourselves out of a hole of sequester in the past, particularly the 2013 budget, the year in which the shutdown occurred, and so forth. And the thing about readiness is that it's easy to have it fall off, but that it takes time to build it back.And I think what the chiefs were saying, absolutely accurately, is we lost a lot of readiness through the turmoil of the last few years. Even if we're given the opportunity, as we hope with this budget, to start building back, it's just in the nature, it's in the nature of training, that it takes a while to get that readiness back. So I do agree with them, yes.

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ICYMI: Inhofe Co-sponsors Whitehouse Amendment #29 that says Climate Change is Real

On Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, stood in support of Whitehouse Amendment #29 to legislation S.1, which read “climate change is real and is not a hoax.” Not only did he request to be a co-sponsor of the amendment, but he urged his party to vote for the amendment. The amendment passed 98-1.

“Climate change is real, and it is not a hoax. How arrogant is it for people to say that man can do something about changing the climate?”Inhofe asked

Amend1 Click here for video of Inhofe requesting to co-sponsor Whitehouse Amendment

“The climate is changing, as it always has been changing, and always will, there’s archeological evidence of that, there’s biblical evidence of that, there’s historic evidence of that, it will always change,”Inhofe said.

Amend2 Click here for Inhofe’s speech about why he voted for climate change

Inhofe went on to explain the term "climate change" and how modern climate change discussions focus on climate trends post-1900. In reality, climate change has occurred since the beginning of time. In the past 2000 years, there was the Medieval Warming Period followed immediately by the Little Ice Age. Both climate events are widely recognized in scientific literature, including National Academy of Science’s 2006 study. In 1975, Newsweek published an article titled “The Cooling World,” which argued that global temperatures were falling. We continue to see climate shifts, including a 17-year hiatus in global temperature increase (source: The Economist and Nature).

As the President seeks to address the far-left’s belief that man is driving the change in climate, Inhofe highlighted a NERA study that estimates the result of their efforts as it pertains to the proposed greenhouse gas regulation on new power plants. The study says the climate mandate would only reduce atmospheric CO2 concentrations by less than 1/2 of a percent, reduce global average temperature by less than 2/100th of a degree, and reduce the rise of sea levels by 1/100th of an inch – or the thickness of three sheets of paper. In the mean time, this same report says that such efforts by the Obama Administration will cost Americans $479 billion in compliance cost and double-digit increase in electricity costs across the nation over the next decade. 

As Inhofe asked in his State of the Union response, why the pain for no gain? 

Here are what others are saying about the Senate’s vote acknowledging climate change is real

FOX News' Monica Crowley: “Nicely played, Jim Inhofe”

Red State' Erick Erickson: “I agree with the Senate. The climate does change!” 

POLITICOs Black HounshellRepublicans really outsmarted Democrats on some key climate votes today.”

Radio pundit Jamie Dupree: “Inhofe outflanks Democrats on climate change on Senate floor and in committee. In the space of a few hours, the Republican that Democrats hate the most when it comes to climate change had both outfoxed them on the Senate floor and reminded the Obama Administration that a new Climate Sheriff was in town”

Michelle Malkin's TwitchySenate Democrats reject logic in order to paint Inhofe as inconsistent on climate.  Watch what the left does to the language. Conflating “climate change” with “man caused climate change” is the epitome of unscientific thinking—see also “stem cell research” vs “embryonic stem cell research” or “anti-immigration” vs anti-illegal immigration.” They treat objectively different concepts as if they were interchangeable. Scientifically speaking, there are only two possible reasons  for this. They are either ignorant about the topics, or they are being intentionally deceptive. Either way, their credibility is lacking.”

The Blaze: "But Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) foiled the Democrats’ plot by openly declaring his support for the amendment, and even asking that he be made a cosponsor of the language. When he made that request, Democrats could be heard clapping and hooting in the Senate chamber. But the more important vote came soon after, when the Senate considered language from Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii). His amendment says climate change is happening, and that it is “extremely likely that global increases in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations and global temperatures are caused by human activities.

POLITICO: “Senate Republicans head-faked Democrats on climate change Wednesday, agreeing in a floor vote that the planet’s climate was changing, but blocking language that would have blamed human activity." 

Washington Post: “Jim Inhofe flips the script on Democratic climate-change-is-a-hoax vote. When offered the chance to speak on the amendment, Inhofe -- did we detect a twinkle in his eye? -- explained his unexpected argument. The climate changes all the time, he said, citing both scientific and "Biblical evidence." There was a hoax: the idea that man was responsible. Such a position was "arrogant," in his formulation, the idea that people could affect the mechanisms that controlled the globe. With that distinction drawn -- the climate changes, and that change isn't a hoax, even if the role of humans is -- the vote was held.”

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