With Democrats in control of the House, Senate, and the White House, Oklahoma's Congressional delegation -- now all Republicans -- has lost some of its clout. However, senior members of the delegation said strong committee assignments will help minimize that loss.
While most of the attention on Capitol Hill at the moment is on President Biden’s executive actions, ongoing confirmation hearings, and on the upcoming impeachment trial, this is also when committee assignments are being finalized, and at least as far as the Oklahoma members go, that is looking very positive.
"I’m very excited about it," said Rep. Kevin Hern, (R) OK - 1, "I think it’s a great opportunity."
In just his second term, Rep. Hern, the successful businessman-turned-Congressman, has been granted his wish to serve on the prestigious House Ways and Means Committee.
"The Ways and Means Committee is considered the most powerful committee in Congress because it writes all the tax legislation and does all the entitlement spending legislation," said Rep. Tom Cole, (R) OK - 4.
Congressman Cole is on the steering committee that makes committee assignments and said it reflects well on Hern that his colleagues were willing to give him this assignment.
Hern said this is what he wanted from the moment he was first elected, and said there's no better place for him to put his life and business experiences to good use than the Ways and Means Committee..
"You’re touching tax policy, healthcare policy, trade policy," Rep. Hern said in an interview Wednesday. "You’re touching 100 percent of America."
In addition to Hern, Rep. Markwayne Mullin, (R) OK - 2, remains on the House Energy and Commerce Committee; Rep. Frank Lucas, (R) OK - 3, is now the ranking member of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee; Rep. Cole is a senior member of the critically important House Appropriations Committee, and newcomer Rep. Stephanie Bice, (R) OK - 5, was given a seat on the House Armed Services Committee.
Sen. Jim Inhofe, (R) Oklahoma, who is now the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he encouraged Bice to seek a spot on House Armed Services and is glad GOP leadership is giving her the opportunity.
"It's a good thing to have someone in our delegation on that committee," Inhofe said in an interview today.
Even though the Republicans and Sen. Inhofe no longer run Senate Armed Services, Inhofe said he is close friends with the Democratic Chair, Sen. Jack Reed, and said he'll still have significant influence on military spending.
Rep. Cole also exerts influence on Pentagon funding in his role on House Appropriations.
"There are a lot of states a lot bigger than Oklahoma that don’t have anywhere near the clout that we have on military issues," Cole said.