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Inhofe, Lankford Slam Democrats For Approving Budget Resolution For COVID Relief Package

Sen. Jim Inhofe
Oklahoma Republican Sens. Jim Inhofe (seated) and James Lankford (on screen) participate virtually in the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday.

Oklahoma Republican Sens. Jim Inhofe and James Lankford expressed displeasure early Friday morning after Vice President Kamala Harris cast a tie-breaking vote to pass a budget resolution that would allow passage of President Joe Biden's $1.9 COVID relief package on a simple majority vote.

“In the past 11 months, we’ve enacted a strong federal response to the coronavirus pandemic—matching a historic crisis with historic federal spending to address it," Inhofe said in a statement. "Just a few weeks ago, we passed even more resources to build on our support for families, small businesses and health care providers. We will certainly need to continue our work, but we can’t confuse that effort with partisan legislation that has been rushed and is jam packed with a liberal wish list.  

“The budget resolution is an outline for future legislation, but it is also a marker for where Congress says it wants to spend taxpayer dollars. The past day made it clear – Democrats want to spend your dollars to implement their radical agenda.”

In a separate statement, Lankford agreed.

"Congress passed five bipartisan COVID relief packages in the last year; but, now President Biden and the Democrats in Congress are trying to ram through a huge wish list on the American people with no bipartisan support," Lankford said. "There is no reason we cannot come together again to address the real issues still facing Americans and ensure we provide targeted relief to those who need it most. The COVID funding package passed in December hasn’t even been distributed yet. We are in a pandemic, but adding more and more debt without a plan makes a bad situation worse.” 

On the floor of the Senate Wednesday, Lankford said Biden was not practicing the "unity" he called for in his inaugural address last month.

"Two weeks later it is, how do we cram through something on a straight partisan vote? How do we block out all Republican voices from the entire country and make sure their voices are not heard? Does that feel like unity two weeks into a presidency?" Lankford said.

During the "vote-a-rama" that lasted from Thursday into the early-morning hours of Friday, Lankford and Inhofe did succeed in getting some amendments included in the resolution.

Lankford's amendment that would prevent federal COVID relief funds from going to state and local governments that place public health restrictions on houses of worship "more restrictive than limits for secular organizations" passed 51-49, with Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia joining all Republicans in support.

Inhofe's amendment to permanently maintain the U.S. Embassy to Israel in Jerusalem passed 97-3, with only Independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Democrats Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Tom Carper of Delaware opposed.

Biden's $1.9 trillion proposal will be debated and may still be altered and amended by committees before proceeding to a reconciliation vote. 

Chris joined Public Radio Tulsa as a news anchor and reporter in April 2020. He’s a graduate of Hunter College and the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, both at the City University of New York.
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