The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

October 14, 2010

U.S. Sen. Inhofe visits Enid, says he will seek to reinstate earmarking practice again

ENID — U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe promoted the use of congressional earmarks during a visit Thursday in Enid.

Inhofe, R-Okla., was in town to get acquainted with Col. Russ Mack, new 71st Flying Training Wing commander at Vance Air Force Base. He said the earmark argument has been “demagogued” so it is difficult to convince reform-minded people.

He said Republican members of the U.S. House were forced by Minority Leader John Boehner to eliminate earmarks, but Inhofe said it is not the earmarks themselves that cause problems. Earmarks are funds secured by members of Congress for projects in their districts.

Inhofe said he has obtained more than $150 million for Vance Air Force Base since 1995, primarily through the use of earmarks. Among those improvement have been $10.7 million for a control tower, $7.7 million for fuel system maintenance hangar, $13.4 million for force protection and $8.4 million for the base engineering complex.

“Congress has the authority to appropriate, and if we don’t do it, then the president will,” Inhofe said.

When the Nov. 2 general election is over and the lame duck session of Congress begins, Inhofe said he plans to take up the cause of earmarks again. Inhofe said he is listed as the most conservative member of the U.S. Senate by a number of conservative journals and will try to reinstitute the practice of earmarks. He said earmarks should be germane to the legislation they are attached to.

“It would be nothing short of criminal to go to all the trouble of electing great new anti-establishment senators, only to have them cede to the executive branch their constitutional power and obligation, which is exactly what a moratorium on earmarks would do,” Inhofe said in a prepared remark.

Regardless of the election outcome, Inhofe said Democrats plan a lame duck session of Congress that will begin the week of Nov. 15. The so-called Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 were left unresolved when Congress recessed to campaign this year and will expire if they are not restored. Inhofe said the marriage penalty will be restored, the 10 percent tax bracket will disappear, tax rates for every bracket will rise and the death tax will revert to 55 percent after the first $1 million. He said Obama favors extending cuts except for those making $250,000 or more, but he said he believes the Bush tax cuts will be restored.

Inhofe said he opposes President Obama’s proposals in Iraq and Afghanistan, and doing away with the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy concerning gays in the military. A federal judge issued an injunction this week against the policy.

Inhofe predicted Senate Republicans would retain their 10 seats up for election, plus will gain seats in Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, West Virginia, North Dakota and Washington. The GOP also could gain Senate seats in California, Nevada, Connecticut and Delaware, he said.

“Any Democrat leading in the polls by 7 percent or less will lose, because the polls have no depth to them,” Inhofe said.

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