Oklahoma House Representatives Vote Against Bill that Includes Oklahoma Projects


WASHINGTON  — The Republican Oklahoma House delegation, including three members who submitted large road project requests, voted against a massive infrastructure bill making its way through Congress. 

Reps. Stephanie Bice of Tulsa, Tom Cole of Moore and Frank Lucas of Cheyenne, who asked for projects totaling about $55 million, joined with other House Republicans in a mostly party-line vote.

The $715 billion surface transportation reauthorization and water infrastructure legislation focuses on fixing existing roads and bridges along with record investments in transit, rail, rural and underserved areas in addition to drinking water and wastewater infrastructure.

The bill has been notably partisan in nature. All Democratic representatives voted in favor of the bill, while all but two Republicans voted against. 

Representative Peter DeFazio (D, Oregon), the chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, says this bill will help further President Biden’s infrastructure goals.

“This transformational legislation lays the groundwork for President Biden’s vision on infrastructure and will create good-paying jobs, restore America’s competitiveness in the global economy, and tackle the climate crisis head on by rebuilding and reimagining infrastructure in the U.S.,” said DeFazio. 

DeFazio has said in the past that he would not condition the inclusion of member designated projects on the members supporting the bill. 

Rep. Lucas has voiced his support for infrastructure funding, but said Friday he does not agree with the committee’s approach.

“Unfortunately, the broader infrastructure package passed by the House is a flawed bill,” said Lucas.  “Instead of solely focusing on commonsense infrastructure priorities coupled with responsible funding, the INVEST in America Act is completely unpaid for and it snarls much-needed construction projects with burdensome environmental mandates.”

“Furthermore, it unfairly prioritizes spending in America’s largest cities over the needs of rural America,” he added. “As Congress and my colleagues in the Senate continue to discuss hard infrastructure, I’m hopeful an appropriate, responsible, bipartisan bill can pass Congress.”

Reps. Cole and Bice declined to comment on why they voted against the bill. 

Rep. Markwayne Mullin of Westville did not submit any projects, but voiced his disapproval with the Democrat’s approach to infrastructure. 

“For Pelosi Democrats, it continues to be their way or the highway,” said Mullin. “This roughly $715 billion package is a disaster for the American people. It does nothing to streamline infrastructure projects, ties up one out of every two dollars in Green New Deal mandates, and leaves rural America further behind. 

The bill now moves to the Senate where negotiations between a small group of senators and the White House have produced a $1.2 trillion bipartisan framework with a funding plan. 

Bice proposed two projects that are in the bill–bridges on I-35 at interchanges between Memorial and 2nd Street in Edmond, $10 million; and funding for the I-35/I240 interchange in Oklahoma City, $10 million.

Cole’s proposed $17.2 million for widening of I-35 in Love County near the Oklahoma state line and $2.88 million for S.E. 29th Street bridge project in Midwest City.

Lucas’s proposed $3.25 million for improvements to U.S. 287 north of Boise City; $3.25 million for Exit 65 improvements on I-40 near Clinton; $3.25 million for SH-33 near Kingfisher; $3.25 million for U.S. 270 near Watonga and $2 million for SH-30 near Durham.

Gaylord News is a Washington-based reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication.