Oklahoma Representatives try to get their say in another COVID-19 relief package


As Congress wrestles with another possible COVID-19 relief package, some Oklahomans in Congress are pushing their projects even as President Trump took things into his own hands over the weekend when Democrat leadership in the House couldn’t reach a compromise on how much aid should be given by the government.

For instance, Rep. Frank Lucas, the ranking member on the House Science and Technology Committee is working to include a provision to reduce foreign dependence on critical minerals as part of the next relief package. Joining him in the effort is Tulsa Rep. Kevin Hern who signed a letter sent to Democratic leadership in the House requesting the provision.

“While the insecurity of many of our country’s supply chains is not new, the threat posed by America’s growing import reliance for critical minerals has become particularly apparent,” they write. Murkowski’s bill, the American Mineral Security Act, S. 1317 (116) , made it into the Republican Covid-19 measure pushed in the Senate reported POLITICO.

Bipartisan House members want to include legislation, H.R. 7483 (116), to provide financial relief to rural electric cooperatives that are suffering amid the coronavirus crisis. Missouri Republican Rep. Vicky Hartzler introduced the Flexible Financing for Rural America Act of 2020 and one of the 45 co-sponsors is Oklahoma Rep. Markwayne Mullin.

More than 30 farm-state lawmakers want negotiators to include language “explicitly” directing relief to biofuel producers, including, for example, language requiring the Agriculture secretary to provide a per-gallon payment to producers for renewable fuels produced during the pandemic.

The list of 30 who sent a letter to House leadership asking for the relief does not include any Oklahoma representatives. (click here to view the letter and list)

Senate Republicans are directly urging Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to prioritize assistance for the clean energy sector, and House Democrats have also vowed to prioritize assistance to the sector in future packages. The GOP lawmakers say they would like policies that benefit “renewables, nuclear, carbon capture, efficiency, advanced transportation, and energy storage.”


House Democrats have also drawn a line in the sand against any proposals for federal corporate immunity that would shield businesses that reopen amid the Covid-19 pandemic from lawsuits for five years, something environmental activists have said is also tied to the fossil fuel industry.

Meanwhile, House Democrats’ have already included more than $1 billion in their own coronavirus rescue plan to help low-income households cover their water bills and would institute a moratorium on utility service shutoffs for any entity receiving federal relief funds.

Democrats on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee also recently released a report warning that just 10 states have protections in place to shield their residents from having their water, gas or electric utilities shut off. The National Association of Clean Water Agencies asked for $4 billion to help cover the costs of a shutoff moratorium.