July has been a busy month with committee hearings, votes, and being back in Oklahoma’s Third District.
Earlier this month, I spoke on the House Floor about the importance of continuing to invest in rural infrastructure, specifically America’s watershed and flood control dams.
Watershed dams provide an estimated $2.2 billion in annual benefits, ensuring landowners, businesses, and communities are free from flood damage.
With more than 2,000 watershed dams across Oklahoma- the nation’s first being constructed in 1948 in Washita County, Oklahoma- we must ensure these silent sentinels remain strong for generations to come.
ICYMI: I wrote an op-ed published in the Tulsa World encouraging my fellow Oklahomans- and Americans- to get the COVID vaccine to help protect yourself, your family, and your community.
We’ve all been busy this summer and we’re all enjoying the freedom from COVID but there’s one thing Oklahoma needs you to not forget: Get your COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible.
COVID-19 vaccines- whether it’s Pfizer, Moderna, or J&J- are safe, effective, and free. America’s three COVID vaccines were bolstered by American innovation, developed with the help of America’s brightest scientists, and distributed with the help and strength of America’s workforce.
While vaccine research was decades in the making, under the leadership of the Trump Administration, Operation Warp Speed established important public-private partnerships which ensured COVID-19 vaccines were both timely and safe.
No corners were cut and vaccine trials were large and public. Just as has been accomplished throughout history, scientists and doctors have built upon cutting edge innovation and science to deliver lifesaving antidotes to protect us from the world’s deadliest viruses and diseases. From smallpox to polio to tetanus, vaccines, coupled with citizens undertaking the responsibility to defeat the virus, have ended pandemics of past and continue to keep our communities safe and healthy.
We’ve come a long way since the height of the pandemic, but unfortunately, cases are dramatically increasing again in Oklahoma and across the country due to the COVID-19 Delta variant and lack of vaccine participation. We have a tool, we have a vaccine that can defeat this virus, and I appeal to every Oklahoman- and American- to join in our war-like effort to bring an end to this pandemic once and for all.
This month, I have cosponsored and introduced a few pieces of important legislation that would impact Oklahoma.
Abandoned Well Remediation Research and Development Act:
Congresswoman Stephanie Bice (OK-05) and I introduced the Abandoned Well Remediation Research and Development Act, which would establish an abandoned wells research, development, and demonstration program at the Department of Energy.
Locating, closing, or repurposing wells is critical work that can reduce methane emissions and reclaim resources. But doing this work is difficult and costly. In Oklahoma, we have thousands of abandoned wells with an average cost of $40k to $70k to properly close. For some sites, the costs could rise to nearly $1 million. This legislation will help us identify new materials and advanced techniques to find and manage abandoned wells, which will help our environment and our energy sector.
CONNECT for Health Act:
I cosponsored the Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies (CONNECT) for Health Act. This bipartisan and bicameral comprehensive package expands the use of telehealth services, delivering cost effective and efficient care to patients.
Telehealth has demonstrated that cost-effective technologies can be utilized to expand health care access to Oklahoma’s rural and urban communities alike. While telehealth was widely used throughout the coronavirus pandemic, it’s long been an essential tool to connect patients efficiently and conveniently to their medical professionals. Oklahomans deserve access to innovative, affordable resources like telehealth, which is why I’m proud to cosponsor the CONNECT for Health Act. This bipartisan bill will build on the success of telehealth in states like Oklahoma and will help deliver better health care to Americans across the country.
Broadband for Rural America Act:
I cosponsored the Broadband for Rural America Act, which would help bridge the digital divide for communities across the nation by providing more than $7 billion in authorizations for United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) broadband connectivity programs, including the Broadband ReConnect Loan and Grant Program.
Access to affordable, high-speed internet is essential for families, businesses owners, and communities in today’s 21st society. Unfortunately, rural communities often face challenges as broadband infrastructure is measured by the miles between customers compared to urban communities who measure broadband by the customers between miles. The Broadband for Rural America Act provides important investments to USDA broadband programs which will in turn provide critical modern infrastructure to countless rural communities. I’m proud to support this important piece of legislation and look forward to continuing to be a supporter and advocate for expanding broadband to rural families and communities across Oklahoma.
NSF for the Future Act & DOE Science for the Future Act:
In June, the House passed the National Science Foundation (NSF) for the Future Act & the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science for the Future Act, doubling down on basic research and proven innovation engines.
For decades, America has seen sustained technological progress and enjoyed all the benefits that come with it. We are the world leader in science and technology because of decades of investment in research and development. But now that leadership is under threat, and our progress could stall. Meanwhile, in China, progress is accelerating. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) intends to surpass us as the frontrunner in scientific knowledge and technological development, and they’re committing extensive resources to crucial technologies like artificial intelligence, quantum information sciences, critical mineral development and advanced manufacturing. Falling behind will threaten our national security, our global competitiveness, and jobs here at home. Our continued success requires us to invest in next-generation technologies and to protect our research from theft.
Together, the National Science Foundation (NSF) for the Future Act and the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science for the Future Act are a whole-of-government approach that fund basic and transform early stage research into the technologies that will keep the U.S. competitive.
It’s time to redouble our commitment to American scientific progress. Our bills increase research funding responsibly and sustainably so that we may continue to push the boundaries of our scientific knowledge and create exciting new opportunities right here in our state of Oklahoma.
D.C. Fly In:
I enjoyed meeting with the members of Farm Credit of Western Oklahoma in person during their visit to Washington D.C. Having the chance to visit with constituents in our Nation’s Capital is valuable for me and my staff, as well as the constituents from Oklahoma. It was good to have constituents back in D.C. for fly-in’s and I look forward to more in the future.
In the District:
It was great to be back in the district to visit with community leaders and business owners in Stillwater, Perry and Pawnee during the month of July. We discussed several important federal and local issues and their impact on communities around Oklahoma’s Third District.
On July 8, I had the pleasure to tour the Science Research Institute at Langston University with President Dr. Kent Smith, Dr. Alonzo Peterson, and Dr. Byron Quinn. The University is partnered with the NASA Johnson Space Center to research and develop natural countermeasures to restore astronauts’ immune systems in spaceflight conditions.
I am proud that Langston University is a key research institute that is located in Oklahoma’s Third District working to advance STEM research and education to produce the next generation of scientists and to achieve sustainable space exploration.
It was wonderful to visit with Northern Oklahoma College’s new President, Dr. Clark Harris, recently retired President, Dr. Cheryl Evans, along with several members of the NOC Executive Council.
We discussed the digital divide that was seen last year during the pandemic as the college transitioned to virtual learning and how expanding broadband is crucial to Oklahoma and our students.
NOC is our state’s first public community college and continues to hold true to the land-grant mission. I appreciate the important role that NOC plays in our state’s higher education system.
I enjoyed being in Cushing at the pipeline crossroads of the world to tour Enbridge and to learn about this terminal, which is one of the largest storage facilities in the Cushing hub.
On July 9, the Oklahoma Relators Association held a meeting where I gave an update on what’s happening in Washington D.C., and we discussed how the realtor’s industry is recovering after the pandemic.
On July 10, I visited the Route 66 Meat Processing Company located in Sayre alongside Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture, Blayne Arthur. They received funds from the CARES Act that was distributed by the State of Oklahoma and Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry. This processing facility will provide additional opportunities for local producers and consumers.
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