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Weekly Round-Up: Inhofe Warns Early Iraq Withdrawal Could Lead to Unnecessary Risks

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Inhofe Warns Early Iraq Withdrawal Could Lead to Unnecessary Risks

Senator Inhofe, a Senior Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today made the following statement about President Obama's announcement to end Iraq war operations on August 31, 2010.

"President Obama's aggressive timetable for early withdrawal from Iraq seems arbitrary and unnecessary," Senator Inhofe said. "Every American is proud to see the tremendous progress made by our men and women in the Armed Forces as Iraq becomes a more stable and democratic nation. It would be unacceptable to see that progress lost because of a political promise made on the campaign trail rather than a well planned out withdrawal done based on continuing recommendations by commanders on the ground. Remember, the United States has already committed to withdrawing U.S. troops in Iraq no later than December 31, 2011.

"In particular, I am concerned that President Obama's push for an expedited withdrawal of troops from Iraq would endanger Israel and the entire Middle East - and it would also empower Iran. On August 28, 2007 Iranian President Ahmadinejad stated at a press conference in Tehran, ‘Soon, we will see a huge power vacuum in the region. Of course, we are prepared to fill the gap, with the help of neighbors and regional friends like Saudi Arabia, and with the help of the Iraqi nation.'

"Further, there are many logistical hurdles that must be dealt with and overcome if we are going to leave Iraq successfully and ensure it does not lead to another rise of terrorism in the nation. We need to know the timeframe, how security will be provided for our withdrawing and remaining forces, what type of, and how many forces will remain after the draw-down, will the Iraqi military and police be ready to take on providing security for the entire country, what is the risk of failure if we leave to quickly, and will these objectives be able to be accomplished without impacting other operations around the globe, such as the War in Afghanistan. These are important questions that the President must address with his commanders on the ground, and truthfully explain to the American people, before he undertakes the complete drawdown of troops in Iraq."

"Our mission in Iraq has always been to bring our troops home victors while leaving behind an increasingly stable democratic nation. Our men and women in uniform, under the leadership of General Petreaus and now General Odierno, have made tremendous gains in the Iraqi theatre over the past year, and we need to ensure their permanency. Over the next year Iraq will be holding important parliamentary elections, and it will be a critical year in the ongoing War on Terror."

INHOFE RESPONDS TO PRESIDENT OBAMAS JOINT ADDRESS TO CONGRESS

"There are three things that were in President Obama's address that should not have come as a huge surprise to me," Senator Inhofe said in a statement Tuesday in response to President Obama's Joint Address to Congress.

"First, President Obama committed to the largest annual tax increase in the history of America, through the implementation of a cap-and-trade system. The range of the tax increase that would be brought on by this cap-and-trade legislation is somewhere between $300-$330 Billion per year. As bad as the stimulus spending bill was, this would be much worse because instead of being one-time spending, the cap-and-trade tax increase would keep occurring year after year. During times of economic turmoil it is folly to impose more pain on families by intentionally raising their energy costs through cap and trade. The American people will be outraged when they realize that any so-called global warming "solutions" will not have a detectable impact on temperatures but will have very painful and real impacts on their budgets. Climate proposals should not be concealed under the guise of a deficit reduction tool.

"I was sitting near Sen. Barbara Boxer during inauguration, who was stunned that the President didn't address Global Warming in his speech. Unfortunately, it seems that the President is finally folding to the pressure from his liberal constituency. Thankfully, I believe we can still defeat these misguided climate efforts here in Congress.

"Second, the President reiterated his plans to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. I believe this is another direct response to pressure from his left-wing base. We cannot afford to close GITMO, and Obama will risk the release of terrorists in the continental United States by following through with this action. I recently visited GITMO and have been the most outspoken U.S. Senator in opposition to closing the facility. I introduced legislation to prevent GITMO prisoner transfers to the U.S. and will continue working to show that this facility is a great asset and it would be irresponsible to close.

"Third, and probably most frustrating, while President Obama and Congressional Democrats continue to throw open the flood gates of federal spending, he again insisted that he is going to halve the deficit by the end of his first term. There was no doubt Congressional Democrats were big spenders, but President Obama has proved to be the same by drastically increasing the deficit with the $800 billion so-called stimulus bill. Americans must understand that even if Obama were to halve the deficit by the end of his term, it would still be more than double the average deficit from the last eight years. The current deficit currently stands six times that average, and President Obama has begun his term by sending an already high deficit into the stratosphere. The average deficit for the 8 years of the Bush Administration was $245 billion. Currently, Obama has a $1.2 Trillion deficit, not including his $800 billion stimulus bill, more funding from the $700 billion Wall Street bailout, a $400 billion-plus spending bill Congressional Democrats are now pushing through, on top of this country's mushrooming budget problems. This all threatens to push the deficit to at least $1.8 trillion. So even halved, the deficit will still remain nearly three times as much as the average deficit during the last eight years.

"I have gone out of my way to try to recognize publically to give President Obama's initiatives the benefit of a doubt, but it appears that Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and other left-wing liberals have succeeded in pushing him too far to the left. The "solutions" he announced tonight in his Congressional address will only succeed in furthering the problem."

Obama Budget: Washington Spending Spree To Continue at the Expense of American Families

On Thursday, Senator Inhofe made the following statement regarding President Obama's proposed $3.9 trillion budget:

"The American people know what we should do when times get tough," Senator Inhofe said. "We should prudently examine every dollar we spend, spend those dollars modestly, and make sure small businesses, which create 80% of the jobs in this country, are not overly burdened so they can create more jobs. President Obama's budget, by contrast, proposes a lavish, big-government agenda by borrowing yet more money and taxing small businesses.

"President Obama' budget is the most radical and partisan budget we have ever seen and includes $4.4 trillion in additional deficits, $3.5 trillion total spending for 2010 alone, $1 trillion in taxes on individuals and business, a $634 billion "down-payment" for government-run health insurance, $650 billion in energy taxes for climate change, and $750 billion is set aside for more Wall Street bailouts. I'm very concerned about the direction in which President Obama proposes to take us, and anyone who works hard, plays by the rules, pays taxes, drives a car, turns on their lights, saves, invests, donates to charity, or plans to be successful in this country should be too.

"We should reject a $645 billion energy tax increase on the American people. Energy companies will pass these costs on to consumers, in addition to the capital costs they need to reduce their emissions. The total burden on American families from cap and trade schemes will be at least $300 billion per year according to the Wharton School of Business.

The budget covers the years from 2010 to 2019. The cap and trade auctions are set to begin in 2012 and raise approximately between $78 and 83 billion per year for a total of $645 billion. Unlike Lieberman Warner, the bill does not spend any of the proceeds. All allowances are auctioned. The budget assumes an 83 percent emissions cut from 2005 levels by 2050, which is steeper than Lieberman Warner so in our view these costs will be higher, especially in the near term.

"President Barrack Obama's unprecedented $31 billion proposal in new oil and gas taxes will potentially eliminate tens of thousands of America's own home grown jobs in the oil and gas industry, painfully increase fuel costs for consumers and businesses, and undoubtedly make our nation more dependent on foreign oil. In the United States, there are nearly 6 million Americans directly and indirectly employed as a result of the oil and natural gas industry. Tax increases of this magnitude will significantly curtail the operating budgets of all exploration and production companies big and small.

"Every marginal well operator in the country should be gravely concerned that these proposals will force the premature plugging of low production marginal wells. And, despite the rhetoric, America's oil companies are already paying taxes at the highest rates."

Figures from the Energy Information Agency indicate that America's major oil producers already pay on average more than a 40% income tax rate. After President Jimmy Carter imposed a similar Windfall Profits Tax on the oil and gas industry back in 1980, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service later determined that its results were hugely counterproductive: ‘The WPT reduced domestic oil production between 3 and 6 percent, and increased oil imports from between 8 and 16 percent… This made the U.S. more dependent upon imported oil.' For American jobs, for the international competitiveness of American companies, and for the consumers at the pump, Congress must reject Obama's energy tax increases.

Inhofe Meets with Okla. National Guard Leadership

Senator Inhofe also met with members of the Oklahoma National Guard this week, including the new Adjutant General, Major General Myles Deering. Maj. Gen. Deering has been appointed by Governor Brad Henry to replace Lt. Gen. Henry "Bud" Wyatt, who is the new Director of the Air National Guard. Sen. Inhofe ate breakfast with the group of Oklahomans who were in D.C. for the annual Oklahoma National Guard Association meeting.

"I was glad to meet with members of the Oklahoma National Guard today during their visit to D.C.," Senator Inhofe said. "These citizen-soldiers and airmen are the backbone of our state, and have answered the call to duty in defense of our nation numerous times. Today over 60 Airmen and over 1,000 Soldiers of the Oklahoma National Guard are currently deployed in the CENTCOM AOR. One of the largest units deployed is the 45th Fires Brigade, which is conducting base security & convoy security in Iraq and Kuwait. These men and women in uniform from Oklahoma are some of the best in the nation and we owe them and their families our gratitude and support.

"I was also pleased to have the opportunity to meet with Maj. Gen. Myles Deering, the new Adjutant General for Oklahoma. We discussed personnel status of our Oklahoma forces, upcoming deployments, recent changes, such as construction of seven Armed Force Reserve Centers, and challenges ahead, including fully funding the Guard personnel and equipment as an operational force rather than a strategic reserve force. We have always had a great working relationship with the Oklahoma National Guard leadership, and I am sure it will continue under the leadership of Maj. Gen. Deering. I look forward to working with him and wish him all the best in his new post."

Inhofe Discusses Economic Priorities with Tulsa Business Leaders

Also on Tuesday, Senator Inhofe was pleased to meet with members of the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce during their annual trip to Washington, D.C. During a presentation to the Chamber, Sen. Inhofe outlined priorities for the economy in several key areas including economic development investments, transportation, defense, and energy, all of which he says will help restore economic confidence without placing a burden on the taxpayers.

Sen. Inhofe denounced the outrageous amounts of government spending Congress had passed in the past year including the recent so-called "stimulus bill": "As one of the most outspoken conservatives in Washington leading the fight against this runaway government spending, and one that has voted against every single massive government bailout bill, I am going to be pushing legislation that can provide a real stimulus to our local communities.

"We know that infrastructure investment, along with defense spending and tax cuts, have a greater stimulative impact on the economy than anything else the government can do," Senator Inhofe said. "And yet, only 3% of the stimulus bill pertained to road and bridge construction. During the stimulus debate I argued for more investments in infrastructure and offered an amendment (S.Amdt 169) which had bipartisan support - unfortunately it did not pass. Oklahoma has $1.1 billion in shovel ready projects. For every $1 billion invested in highways and bridges, 27,800 jobs are created. That is where the focus of the stimulus should have been.

"Additionally disappointing, only 1% of the stimulus bill was dedicated to military and veterans. We know for every $1 billion invested in military procurement, 6,500 jobs are created. I now have a bill (S.JR10) in Congress that will set the baseline budget of the Department of Defense to 4% so that we can invest in manufacturing jobs that are right here in the U.S. and protect our national security. "President Obama said of his ‘stimulus' plan that, ‘Most of the money we're investing as part of this plan will generate or save 3-4 million new jobs.' At a $789 billion cost, that translates into spending $200,000 taxpayer dollars per job. That is a burden that will cost more than $8,287 for every Oklahoma taxpayer."

Senator Inhofe also revealed the Tulsa provisions in the FY09 Omnibus Appropriations bill that the House is scheduled to vote on this week.

"While I have great reservations about this massive appropriations bill that is going to authorize billions more in new government spending, I am pleased that Tulsa will be the recipient of important funds for its schools and roadways. These are the types of investments that will help our local communities make economic progress," Senator Inhofe said.

He underscored the importance of the 2009 Highway Reauthorization, WRDA, and the Economic Development Administration in creating jobs in Oklahoma and throughout the country.

"Through my role on the EPW committee I will be working to ensure the development of the Arkansas River Corridor in the Tulsa area, said Senator Inhofe. "In 2007, when I secured passage of the WRDA bill we succeeded in authorizing relocation assistance for Tar Creek which will be complete this year and $50 million to carry out the ecosystem restoration, recreation, and flood damage reduction components of the Arkansas River Corridor Master Plan.

"We have great highway needs in Oklahoma, and this year, with the Highway Reauthorization bill, it will be a top priority of mine to make sure Oklahoma's roads and highways are being built. "Investments through the Economic Development Administration have transformed communities in Oklahoma. Last Congress and in this Congress (S.430), I've introduced legislation to reauthorize EDA for another 4 years. In Oklahoma, EDA's public works and economic adjustment grants awarded over the past six years have resulted in 9,000 jobs being created or saved. And with an investment of about $24.6 million, we have leveraged almost $29 million in State and local dollars and more than $433 million in private sector dollars."

He also warned against the efforts to pass cap-and-trade legislation.

"This year, one of the biggest mandates the American people could encounter is climate change legislation seeking to regulate carbon dioxide emissions," Senator Inhofe said. "To put this in perspective, we will pay for the stimulus bill just once, but the climate bailout would amount to $6 trillion hitting us every year at an estimated cost of $3,300 per Oklahoma household. It failed last year because of the massive cost and no environment gain. Still, this climate tax remains a top priority for Democrats and as the Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee I will lead the fight in the Senate to oppose what will be a massive tax increase in the form of higher energy prices."

Background: The House will vote this week on the FY09 Omnibus Appropriations bill. The Senate will vote next week.

The bill includes the following for the Tulsa area:

-$500,000 for Tulsa Public Schools Tulsa Public Schools Campus Police Force

-$285,000 for Tulsa Public Schools, Tulsa, OK for curriculum development and funding to purchase technology and equipment.

-$1,045,000 for U.S. 169 Highway Widening Environmental Assessment in Owasso

-$237,500 for St. John Medical Center -Broken Arrow Traffic Improvement, OK

-$380,000 for Reconstruction and Replacement of the 1-244 Bridge over the Arkansas River, Tulsa, OK

-$570,000 for Reconstruction of the 1-44 Bridge Over 163rd Street (Including the Interchange), Tulsa, OK

-$713,625 for the National Energy Policy Institute at University of Tulsa

-$5,401,000 for routine operation and maintenance of the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System, OK

-$5,637,000 for operation and maintenance of Keystone Lake, OK

Inhofe Responds to Holder's Remarks on Gitmo

This week, Senator Inhofe, a Senior Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, issued the following statement in response to remarks made by Attorney General Eric Holder following his recent visit to GITMO on Monday. The remarks today, as reported by the Associated Press, are the first since Holder's return.

"I am not at all surprised to hear the Attorney General return with a glowing report about conditions at Gitmo," Senator Inhofe said. "Just as I have found in my visits to Gitmo, and as apparently will be stated in an upcoming Pentagon report, we know Gitmo meets the highest international standards and is a fundamental part of protecting the lives of Americans from terrorism.

"I am also pleased to hear that the Attorney General understands closing Gitmo will take time and will not be an easy process. I believe as more time goes by there is a chance Administration will grow to realize that we need Gitmo and must keep it open. More time will allow facts to replace political rhetoric.

"The fact remains we need Gitmo because it is the only complex in the world that can safely and humanely hold these individuals who pose such a grave security risk to our nation. It is a secure location away from population centers that protects communities from both potential escapes as well as attacks, provides multiple levels of confinement opportunities based on the compliance of the detainee, and provides medical care not available to a majority of the population of the world.

Senator Inhofe introduced legislation (S.370) to prevent the detainees at Guantanamo from being relocated anywhere on American soil. Earlier this month, Senator Inhofe led a Congressional Delegation to Guantanamo Bay to see firsthand the state of the prison operations and get the facts out about its critical role in keeping U.S. national security.

Associated Press

AG Holder: Closing Gitmo won't be easy

By DEVLIN BARRETT

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5heRpOllLmGrt0EDnQMJXSeQKfIGwD96IS6OG1

WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General Eric Holder said Wednesday the Guantanamo detention center is a well-run, professional facility that will be difficult to close — but he's still going to do it. Holder visited the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on Monday and spoke to reporters about his trip during a news conference Wednesday. Closing Guantanamo, he said, "will not be an easy process. It's one we will do in a way that ensures that people are treated fairly and that the American people are kept safe." President Barack Obama selected Holder to lead the new administration's effort to close the detention facility within a year. Much of the year will be spent reviewing the individual case histories of the roughly 245 inmates, the attorney general said. "It's going to take us a good portion of that time to look at all of the files that we have to examine, until we get our hands around what Guantanamo is, and also what Guantanamo was," he said. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., who is trying to keep Guantanamo open, said he was encouraged by Holder's remarks. "I believe as more time goes by there is a chance the administration will grow to realize that we need Gitmo and must keep it open. More time will allow facts to replace political rhetoric," said Inhofe, who is pushing legislation seeking to bar any Guantanamo detainees from coming to the U.S. Holder said his visit to the site was instructive. He met with military officials and toured the facilities, including the court setting where military commissions were to be held until Obama suspended them. He said he did not witness any rough treatment of detainees, and in fact found the military staff and leadership performing admirably. "I did not witness any mistreatment of prisoners. I think, to the contrary, what I saw was a very conscious attempt by these guards to conduct themselves in an appropriate way," he said. The attorney general said none of those impressions alters the administration's goal of closing Guantanamo by January 2010. "It does not in any way decrease our determination to close the facility, even though as I said it is being well-run now," he said. In his confirmation hearings before the Senate, Holder said lawyers will have to examine each detainee's case, and determine who can be brought to the U.S. for a criminal trial, sent to foreign countries or tried and held by the U.S. in some other fashion.

Inhofe Welcomes Senate Passage of Amendment that will Prohibit Reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine

Senator Inhofe welcomed passage of Senate Amendment 573, offered by Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) to the District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act of 2009, which will prohibit the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from reinstituting the Fairness Doctrine. The DeMint amendment was similar to legislation Senator Inhofe introduced this Congress, S.62, the Broadcaster Freedom Act. The amendment passed 87-11.

"Today's vote was the first nail in the coffin of the Fairness Doctrine," said Inhofe. "I have long been outspoken on this issue, and it gives me great satisfaction that so many of my colleagues voted in favor of free speech over government regulation. I want to especially thank Senators Jim DeMint and John Thune for their work on this important effort."

In addition to introducing S. 62, in 2006 Senator Inhofe successfully led the fight on the floor of the Senate to defeat an amendment to the 2006 Defense Authorization Bill to regulate the content of programming available to our troops overseas, and authored a successful amendment to ensure the troops remain able to decide what programming they want to listen to. Senator Inhofe was also a cosponsor of Senate Amendment 2020 to the Department of Defense Reauthorization Act for FY 2008, which would have prohibited the FCC from implementing the Fairness Doctrine in any programming.

"Free speech is fundamental to what it means to be an American, and it must be protected. Re-imposing some form of a Fairness Doctrine threatens this First Amendment right. Some on the Left of the political spectrum are frustrated that more talk radio shows have a conservative political leaning than have a liberal political leaning. In response, I say that the content is market driven. If more people want to listen to a certain type of talk radio, then those programs in demand will be sustained by advertising, donations, and other sources of income. Within the current market system, American consumers are getting what they want. If the demand for liberal programming were greater, there would be more shows with that content. Any attempt by a few liberals to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine clearly goes against the will of Congress and the American people, as indicated by today's vote.

"Not only do I stand firm in my opposition to the Fairness Doctrine, but I am also wary of any stealth attempts aimed at regulating the airwaves, such as broadcast localism and licensing changes. I intend to fight against the regulation of free speech, not just the Fairness Doctrine, but in all its various forms."

The Fairness Doctrine was a regulation that the Federal Communications Commission developed to require FCC-licensed broadcasters to provide contrasting viewpoints on controversial issues. However, the FCC conducted a review of this regulation in 1985 and concluded, "We no longer believe that the Fairness Doctrine serves the public interest," and formally repealed the regulation in 1987. Explaining why they reached this conclusion, the FCC wrote "the interest of the public is fully served by the multiplicity of voices in the marketplace today and that the intrusion by government into the content of programming unnecessarily restricts the journalistic freedoms of broadcasters." The FCC's refusal to enforce the Fairness Doctrine was later upheld in the DC Circuit Court of Appeals in 1989.

Inhofe Votes for Second Amendment Gun Rights

In continueing his suppport for Second Amendment rights, Senator Inhofe co-sponsored an amendment (S.A.575) this week, which was sponsored by Senator John Ensign (R-Nev.), to repeal the D.C. gun regulations. The amendment passed by a vote of 62-36.

"In June, in the case District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling affirming the Second Amendment right to bear arms as an individual and constitutionally protected right, and overturned the District of Columbia's firearm ban" Senator Inhofe said. "Despite last year's Supreme Court ruling, the D.C. City Council continues to unfairly and unconstitutionally restrict the right for law-abiding citizens to defend themselves. Gun ownership laws in D.C. are unnecessarily restrictive and prevent residents from exercising their Second Amendment rights. I am proud to support this important legislation, which would repeal the D.C. gun regulations."

Related:

Inhofe Applauds Supreme Court's Ruling Overturning DC Gun Ban

Inhofe Op-Ed: Environmental Review Process Can Stall Projects (Roll Call)

Roll Call

Environmental Review Process Can Stall Projects

By U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe

Special to Roll Call
Published February 23, 2009

When President Dwight Eisenhower first conceived the interstate system more than 50 years ago, he envisioned a system to connect the nation and enhance national defense. The enormous economic benefits provided by the system were not fully understood for some time.

Today, however, the link between a robust economy and a strong transportation infrastructure is undeniable. For example, our nation's roads and bridges move close to $40 billion worth of goods daily. That number would be higher, but congestion costs our nation $8 billion annually, according to Department of Transportation estimates. If we don't take dramatic action to improve our transportation infrastructure system, growing congestion and deteriorating pavement conditions will choke the U.S. economy.

As we move toward reauthorization of our surface transportation programs, we must recognize that our nation's transportation needs have outgrown our current transportation policy. Simply tinkering around the edges of current programs and policies is not an option. We must be bold in refocusing our limited resources to our nation's greatest needs.

This reauthorization is the time to address several complex policy questions. First, we must determine the fundamental missions of the federal program. I am a firm believer in a national transportation system, but I think our current federal-aid program tries to be all things to all people. I would argue there is no more essential federal role in transportation than to address the needs that affect the vitality of our interstate commerce and our economy as a whole.

It is critical that we explore new ideas of how to improve freight movement and reliability. On the other hand, we must seriously reconsider the federal government's role in continuing to support many of the nonessential activities added to the program over the years.

Next, we must ensure that Americans receive a full and effective return on the fuel taxes they pay into the Highway Trust Fund. This may include establishing performance goals and ways to measure progress toward those goals. It certainly includes ensuring that transportation projects are not needlessly delayed, and therefore made more costly, by required environmental reviews.

Too often the environmental review process is used as the means to slow or stop projects, not based on substantive environmental grounds but rather simply because selected individuals oppose the projects. We need to reduce the ability of these not-in-my-backyard interests to continue to manipulate federal law this way.

Finally, but possibly most importantly, we must address funding issues. It is clear that current revenues going into the Highway Trust Fund are not sufficient, as evidenced by DOT's estimate that the backlog of needed projects to simply maintain the current highway and bridge network is $495 billion and growing.

As Congress begins to re-evaluate the appropriate federal role, we must determine how to pay for that federal share. In particular, as vehicles become more fuel-efficient, the existing funding model of paying per gallon of fuel will not be effective. We need to explore numerous alternative financing mechanisms, because no single option will provide a complete solution. We must be willing to explore new options, including expanded use of public-private partnerships, tolling, congestion pricing, mileage-based road pricing, and requiring all users — not just highway users — to contribute to the trust fund.

Complicating the funding question, of course, is our current economic situation. It is more important than ever that we not demand so much of the American taxpayers that we worsen economic conditions. At the same time, we must remember the economic benefits of transportation spending. According to economists, every $1 billion of federal investment in infrastructure adds $3.4 billion to the gross domestic product and creates 34,800 jobs.

One thing we must not do in this year's reauthorization discussion is allow debate over other national policies to distract us from surface transportation issues. This bill historically has enjoyed broad bipartisan cooperation and support. The insertion of controversial issues, such as global warming, would pose serious threats to that bipartisanship and would significantly slow, or even halt, the reauthorization process.

Democratic leaders in both the Senate and the House of Representatives have voiced the intention to consider stand-alone global warming legislation at some point in the next two years. It is within that context, and not during transportation reauthorization, that we should debate the merits, or lack thereof, of various proposals to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

The needs of our surface transportation system and the system's importance to our national economy demand our immediate and focused attention. I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress, as well as with the Obama administration, to craft a reauthorization bill that brings focus to the federal program and ensures a system that will continue to provide the basis for economic growth.

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) is ranking member on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

In the News...Sen. Inhofe: Stimulus Bill a Giant Welfare Package (Newsmax)

Newsmax

Sen. Inhofe: Stimulus Bill a Giant Welfare Package

By: Jim Meyers

[Editor's Note: See the full Inhofe interview - Go Here Now]

Sen. Jim Inhofe tells Newsmax that the stimulus package put together by President Barack Obama and the Democrats is in fact "7 percent stimulus and 93 percent spending."

The Oklahoma Republican also asserted that the stimulus bill is a "form of welfare" - and said of Obama's plan to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, that the detainees remaining there are "bad, bad people." [Editor's Note: See the full Inhofe interview - Go Here Now]

Newsmax's Ashley Martella asked if Sen. Inhofe sees anything positive in the stimulus bill.

"We know how to stimulate the economy," he responded. "We saw Kennedy do it in the ‘60s. He cut taxes, marginal rates, capital gains, inheritance taxes, and [by 1968] that increased our revenues by 62 percent. The same thing happened in the ‘80s when Reagan was there, so we know how to do that.

"However, the tax portion of this thing doesn't stimulate. It gives money to people who don't pay taxes. It is a form of welfare.

"There are two provisions in here that are fairly decent tax-wise. One is a loss carry back - I think it goes from two to five years - and the other is accelerated depreciation. But this only amounts to 3 1/2 percent of the total of $789 billion.

"The other thing you can do, of course, would be to have construction. We have $1.1 trillion worth of things that could be built, in terms of highways and bridges and things we're ultimately going to have to do. If we could accelerate that, that would start the jobs coming.

"Now that only amounted to 3 1/2 percent - $29 million in the whole package for road construction and highways. We add that together, that's 7 percent. So that's 7 percent stimulus and 93 percent spending."

Martella noted that Obama is calling himself a deficit cutter, and asked if that is valid in light of the huge stimulus spending plan.

"Here we have the largest spending bill in the history of the world," said Inhofe.

"He can call himself a deficit cutter. He is so persuasive that when he says something, so many people believe it. I think this is the art he is using right now. If he just says this and says it often enough, people will assume that is the case."

Although the stimulus package was written by Democrats, it would not have passed without the support of three Republicans in the Senate - Arlen Specter, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins. Martella asked if the three can be trusted to support GOP positions on other spending matters, such as tax increases.

"Those three you mentioned have always been very moderate to liberal, and they've left the fold many times before," Inhofe answered.

"I am hoping that they will stay hitched on things that are really meaningful when those things come up.

"For example, if you had a meaningful stimulus bill that had some tax reductions in it, in marginal rates or capital gains, I would hope that they would stay hitched. However, if they don't do it we can't get anything done."

Martella pointed out that a big issue for Inhofe is keeping Guantanamo Bay open, and asked if he sees Obama moving to give terrorists the civil rights that Americans enjoy.

"I sure do," Inhofe declared. "As a matter of fact, I just came back from there. I also went to Gitmo right after 9/11. I was there in January of '02. At that time there were accusations of torture taking place so I went down to see for myself. It was not taking place. It was not happening.

"Gitmo is a very valuable resource for the United States of America. We've had it since 1903. It's one of the best deals we have. We only spend $4,000 a year on a lease.

"Here is the problem that Americans are going to have to understand. Right now the population at Gitmo is down to 245 detainees. Of those 245, there are 170 whose country will not take them back. Of the 170, 110 are really hardcore, bad, bad people...

"So you've got to try them over there under a tribunal and do something with them. What are your choices? You could line them up and shoot them, I suppose, or you could turn them loose, or you could keep them there at Gitmo. The problem that we have, they've identified places in the United States to put these detainees after they close Gitmo ... Where are you going to put [them] if they don't go ahead and try them at a tribunal at Gitmo?

"And if you have to leave them there for a long period of time, leave them there for a long period of time. The alternatives are not very attractive."

Editor's Note: To See the full Inhofe interview - Go Here Now

Editorial: We must all work to keep enhancing, expanding Vance (Enid News)

Enid News and Eagle

Editorial: We must all work to keep enhancing, expanding Vance

Since the first shovels of dirt were turned beginning its construction in 1941, Vance Air Force Base has had a tremendous impact on life in Enid and Garfield County.

Much of the impact is intangible and difficult to quantify. Vance men and women contribute to many aspects of life in our community, through volunteer work and their involvement in our local schools, churches and civic organizations.

There's the pride the community feels in Enid's involvement with and support of the mission of training the next generation of military pilots at the nation's only joint undergraduate pilot training base.

Then there is the economic impact, which is considerable. The figures were released for fiscal year 2008 just the other day, and the numbers are impressive.

Vance contributed $242.3 million to our local economy in 2008, through salaries, expenditures and creation of indirect jobs. That is a jump of some $18 million from 2007.

That figure includes $128.3 million in payroll; $82.2 million in spending for construction, services, materials, equipment and supplies; and 943 indirect jobs created for a total payroll of $31.8 million.

Imagine where we would be without Vance, particularly in light of the economic hardships through which many communities nationwide are suffering right now.

Vance is renowned to have perhaps the closest relationship between the base and community of any military facility in the nation.

Our base's ability to grow and flourish while many others were closed or downsized during past Base Realignment and Closure rounds is a testament to our leadership at the city, state and national levels.

All three entities work together to fill the infrastructure and quality of life needs of the Air Force. Mike Cooper, our city's military liaison, leads the local effort.

At the state level, Gov. Brad Henry has stepped up to help provide funding whenever funds were needed for a road project such as the improvements to Southgate north of the base and the current work on Wheat Capitol Road to the south.

On the national level, Vance always has the support of Sen. Jim Inhofe on the Senate Armed Services committee as well as Oklahoma's representative on House Armed Services, a seat now held by Rep. Mary Fallin.

Good things are happening at Vance. Construction is ready to begin on a $7.7 million fuel cell facility and the $8.6 million Armed Forces Reserve Center. The future looks bright.

But we cannot let down our guard. A former BRAC official hints another round of closures may come as early as 2015. We must continue working together - from the local level to Washington, D.C. - to keep enhancing and expanding the mission at Vance Air Force Base.

In the News...Green Country in line to receive $14 million (Tulsa World)

Tulsa World

Green Country in line to receive $14 million

by: JIM MYERS World Washington Bureau
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
2/25/2009 3:13:55 AM

WASHINGTON - A $400 billion-plus spending bill making its way through Congress includes more than $14 million for projects in Tulsa and northeastern Oklahoma.

Two projects alone total $10 million with $5.6 million earmarked for operation and maintenance of Keystone Lake and $5.4 million for the same kind of activity for the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System.

According to U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe's office, other projects in the bill include:

-$500,000 for Tulsa Public Schools' campus police force.

-$285,000 for curriculum development and new technology and equipment at Tulsa Public Schools.

-$1,045,000 for a highway widening environmental assessment of U.S. 169, Owasso.

-$237,500 for traffic improvement at St. John Medical Center, Broken Arrow.

-$380,000 for reconstruction and replacement of the Interstate 244 bridge over the Arkansas River, Tulsa.

-$570,000 for reconstruction of the Interstate 44 bridge over 163rd East Avenue, Tulsa.

-$713,625 for the National Energy Policy Institute at University of Tulsa.

"While I have great reservations about this massive appropriations bill that is going to authorize billions more in new government spending, I am pleased that Tulsa will be the recipient of important funds for its schools and roadways,'' Inhofe, R-Okla, said Tuesday.

"These are the types of investments that will help our local communities make economic progress.''

He emphasized the importance of upcoming legislation on transportation, water resources and economic development in creating jobs in Oklahoma and the U.S.

"We have great highway needs in Oklahoma, and this year, with the Highway Reauthorization bill, it will be a top priority of mine to make sure Oklahoma's roads and highways are being built,'' Inhofe said.

He also said he would use his role as the top Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to ensure the development of the Arkansas River corridor.

Rep. John Sullivan, R-Okla., said he was "pleased to help secure funding" for a number of vital projects in his district but could not support the spending bill.

"While I fully support all of the Tulsa projects I secured and am happy to see them included in the upcoming omnibus, I cannot support an overall bill that contains the single largest increase in federal spending since the Carter administration,'' Sullivan said.

He said Democrats had an opportunity to produce a fiscally responsible bill in light of a record deficit but instead chose to keep on spending.

Rep. Dan Boren, D-Okla., also released a list projects in his district. They include:

-$300,000 for water treatment plant improvements, McAlester.

-$1.7 million, Oologah Lake.

-$3.5 million, Tenkiller Lake.

-$332,500, elevated rail project, Claremore.

Boren reportedly also is still reviewing the bill.

A House vote is expected this week with a Senate vote to follow, possibly next week.

In the News...Inhofe studies B

Tulsa World

Inhofe studies B'ville water woes

http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?subjectid=11&articleid=20090228_12_A7_BARTLE7406&archive=yes

by: LAURA SUMMERS World Correspondent

February 28, 2009

BARTLESVILLE - U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe stopped Friday in Bartlesville to discuss the city's desire to negotiate the best possible price for water from two area lakes.

A Bartlesville delegation went to Washington earlier this week to discuss ongoing water issues in what has become an annual visit since a 2002 drought came close to wiping out the area's main source at Lake Hulah.

Inhofe, R-Okla., visited with the group at the Capitol.

"I don't propose anything unless I have been there and I can speak from personal experience," he said Friday. "That's why I'm here today."

Bartlesville has worked with the Army Corps of Engineers on numerous studies to determine the best water supply sources for the community.

The studies pointed to continuing use of Hulah and Copan lakes, although the price tag could go up by millions of dollars without legislative assistance.

The city is asking Inhofe to insert in the Water Resources Development Act, slated for a vote this year, language that would allow Bartlesville to pay $1.4 million for Copan Lake water storage and $800,904 for Hulah Lake water storage.

The rates would increase the average user's monthly water bill by about 70 cents. If the price is not adjusted, the average customer would pay about $10 more per month.

Mayor Tom Gorman said: "The corps is putting the price at about 10 times what we are proposing. We are asking for special pricing, though we are not asking for something new. This has been done for other lakes in the past in other areas."

Besides meeting with leaders on the water issue, Inhofe flew over the lakes Friday.

"Bartlesville does something right that a lot of communities don't," he said.

"Bartlesville thinks things out. They raised the rates of water three years, which shows they are doing their part. Community support goes a long way, and certainly Bartlesville has shown it. I think you'll be successful" in the rate negotiations.


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