Inhofe Questions Witness at EPW Hearing on Oversight of the Economic Development Administration
Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) senior member of the Environmental and Public Works
(EPW) Committee, questioned today’s witness, John Fleming, at an EPW hearing to
receive testimony on the progress being made to repair the Tulsa-West Tulsa
Fleming M.D. is the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development of
the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Inhofe: I thank both
of you for giving us this opportunity. We have a reason that we can’t be here.
I don’t need your opening statement. I know exactly what you’re doing. I know
the successes we’ve had. I know that the EDA has really performed well and
follows the lines, as the chairman just said, that we have the opportunity to
use matching funds to show that the support at home is really big.
in my state of Oklahoma, as you well know, and some of the others know here I’m
sure, that we had a devastating flood this past year. It was one of these
hundred-year things that happens every year that you always hear about. But
this was really bad. Our levee in Tulsa, we call it the “West-Tulsa Levee,” was
built in the middle-40s. It’s well past its lifetime. When this flood came in
we had people with fingers in the dike down there, literally. We were very
fortunate that we didn’t have a major disaster.
addition to that, we had problems. A lot of people don’t know that we in
Oklahoma are navigable. We have a navigation way that comes all the way up to
Tulsa. Going through the Port of Muskogee, we had extensive damage done down
there and that falls into the category of your disaster recovery grant. Let me
first of all thank you and the Corps of Engineers for moving up the studies
that are going to be necessary before we actually start fixing that dike.
Initially we thought it was going to be three years but, it’s turned out to be
about a year and a half. So, we’re making great headway. What I’d like to do
is, just to be sure, as we found out when we had the committee hearing with the
Corps of Engineers, they said there’s not a higher priority in the country than
this—to get it done—because it would mean lives if something else happened. I’d
like to make sure that you still feel the same way about your participation in
helping us to fix that levee.
Well, thank you Senator Inhofe. Let me say first of all, that since 2015,
EDA’s priority when it comes to disaster relief has been to focus on resiliency
and I think this project really points that out. So, we’re looking at the Tulsa
County Drainage District 12 levee pump stations and an application has been
made and coincidentally, Senator, the decision is being made, by the committee
that makes this decision, today.
Where is that taking place?
In Austin. We’re broken up into six regions and each application goes to
whichever region, of course, has authority. In this case it’s Austin. It would
never make it that far if it wasn’t a really good application. I can’t get
ahead of the decision of course, and in fact the decision is not mine, it does
lie at the regional level. I hope to have good news for you by the end of the
Well, I appreciate that very much. I was not aware that that was taking
place and we’ll have to take note of that because this is something I hear
about on a daily basis. This is kind of the number one concern and problem that
we’ve had there. Let me first of all thank the chairman and Senator Carper for
letting me forge ahead on this and let me thank you for the priority that
you’ve already demonstrated that you’re giving and we’ll look for wonderful
things to happen.