Oklahoma U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe answers questions concerning the federal response to COVID-19

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – All members of the Oklahoma Congressional delegation were invited to participate in the KFOR COVID-19 Virtual Town Hall on May 13.

Although Senator Jim Inhofe could not participate in the Virtual Town Hall, he answered some of KFOR’s questions through a Zoom interview prior to the live event.

Question: Why did you vote against the second stimulus package since many Oklahomans viewed each package as desperately needed aid during the pandemic?

Senator Jim Inhofe: “We’ve had the COVID programs. You can say we’ve had four or we’ve had three, depends on how you measure them. But the one that came out yesterday, that is Nancy Pelosi’s. Let’s backdate this to the first one where we were getting along so well, Democrats and Republicans in the Senate, on the first program. We were gonna have that vote on a Sunday night at 6 o’clock. We all remember that. And the Democrats said the guy, my counterpart over there is Jack Reed. We kinda jointly do the military things. So we were ready to do that and were ready to vote when Nancy Pelosi came in. And because of her coming in and wanting the Democrat, liberal agenda as a part of the program, having nothing to do with COVID. That delayed that vote from Sunday night at 6 o’clock to Thursday night at 6 o’clock. So what she did yesterday is kinda consistent with that. The reason she was delaying it, she has a lot of things that she wanted to have on the programs. She said, ‘Oh, this is a spending spree, we can have all of our things. We can have gun control, we can have our programs.’ Well, the same thing is happening right now. In fact, I just got this, the breakdown that we have on what she’s doing, and talking about another $3 trillion. See, we’ve already, it’s already past the $3 trillion mark already. This is another $3 trillion, 1,800 pages, and it has things like preventing the deportation of illegal immigrants which has nothing to do with the issue. It eases work requirements on food stamps, well that has nothing to do with it. So her list is a long list. She has abortion in it, she does away with the Hyde Amendment and these things. So, that’s not gonna go anywhere. Yeah, it could go on Friday. The Democrats control the House and they could pass it, but it’s not gonna go anywhere. We all know that. They know that too but it does cater to their fan club and that’s what it’s gonna be.”

Question: Oklahoma was among one of the last states to ‘close’ and among the first to reopen. Do you think Oklahoma has jumped the gun on reopening, or do you feel like it is safe even though case numbers are still climbing?

Senator Jim Inhofe: “Yeah, Oklahoma is leading the way. Now, I used the editorial that’s in the Charlotte Observer, that’s a newspaper in North Carolina, and they say that the model for state-level COVID-19 data is Oklahoma. It goes on to say what we’re doing in Oklahoma that other people aren’t doing. In addition to that, we have OU who, right now, is probably the leader, the one most talked about in terms of progress of vaccines. They have two vaccines right now they’re working on that seem to be leading the nation. We are doing it with our manufacturers, we are doing things that other people don’t do. We’re starting to do it now with our banking community to allow individuals who are entitled to funds that come out of the COVID program, they’re gonna actually get ahead of the game so that they get the funds earlier. Otherwise, some of the money that would go into these families, you hear about $3,400 per family, it takes them a long time to get it. But if they have a bank who’s willing to do it, we’re setting the example here in Oklahoma that they will go ahead and get it done so long as they are within the range of the amount of money that they’ll get. So instead of $3,400 three weeks from now, they’ll get it tomorrow. And these are things we’re doing in Oklahoma and I think that the governor is pretty much taking what the president had down and people generally agree with the way he’s been handling this. There’s no easy way to handle this but to go in these 14-day increments where if you accomplish so much during this period of time, and a lot of it are things that you are doing in terms of people being together, proximity and all that, then you get to go to the next range. Now, we’re already up to where the churches can be opened, the restaurants can be opened, and all these things are happening. So we’re kind of ahead of that and so the other part of your question is what do I think about it. The risk is there. The risk is what happens if we are doing very well, a 14-day period goes by, we’re recovering, our trend lines are good, then all of a sudden it goes sour. Then everyone’s gonna point to everybody like me and like the governor and like the president who said, ‘This is the best thing we could do right now in trying to dig out from under this thing.’ We’re doing a good job in Oklahoma and we’re being recognized as doing a good job in Oklahoma. “

Question: Many Oklahoma communities are losing out on vital revenue right now. The state as a whole faces a revenue failure. Mitch McConnell floated the idea of allowing states to follow the bankruptcy route. What do you think of that idea?

Senator Jim Inhofe: “Well, he’s just been talking about that since yesterday and it didn’t sound like it’s gonna be the best idea. I think what we’re gonna have to do is recognize, and maybe we can learn something from this. You know, anytime we’ve all jumped in there, and you gotta keep in mind, there are a lot of people in America through no fault of their own just have gone under. This has never happened in our country in history and so we have to do things we have not done before and the way that we’ve elected to do it is spending money in areas we otherwise would not be spending. Now, we’d be spending that money but not accelerating. So what I have proposed is we go in and accelerate, we take the areas where we have accelerated our spending and decelerate those areas. Because I think the quicker you can get down to where it’s operating as we’ve been operating before, a lot of people don’t like the way we’ve been operating before but it’s sure better than the way we’re operating now. And there’s no way to avoid this from happening. So I have voiced my support for decelerating something that otherwise is, would take a longer period of time.”

Question: After President Donald Trump touted the drug Hydroxychloroquine as a possible treatment for COVID-19, Oklahoma spent $2 million buying the drug. What do you think of the state’s decision to spend such a large sum of money on the medicine before it was a proven treatment?

Senator Jim Inhofe: “I’ve been praising the governor for what he’s done. I think he acted a little bit hastily on that one. No, I was not involved in that. But now, it’s awful hard to say though how you can be perfect on everything because if there had been a supply problem that was exhausted as a result of not acting quickly enough, then you’d have a lot of criticism. I think there’s justice in the criticism that maybe he was a little hasty. “

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