The Edmond Sun

March 25, 2013

Inhofe makes key budget amendments

James Coburn
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe was able to make key amendments to the Senate’s federal 2013 funding bill, a continuing resolution for the remainder of the fiscal year.

The Democrat majority Senate passed its first budget since 2009, one that Inhofe said he could not support because it proposes $975 billion a year in new taxes.

An amendment sponsored by Inhofe passed over the weekend to restore veterans’ tuition assistance. Inhofe said the White House chose tuition reimbursement to politicize sequestration.

“The tuition assistance is something we’ve had for a number of years,” Inhofe said.

In addition, Oklahoma Farmers will get some financial relief by not having to adhere to the EPA’s spill prevention countermeasures for oil, gas and propane. Inhofe said that farmers should not be regulated by the same standards as refineries with double wall containers.

“The cost is about $100,000 for a farmer,” Inhofe said. “And that is a really huge concern because there isn’t any real threat of groundwater contamination to things that are out there.”

Democrats from farm states provided the votes that the Republicans needed to pass the measure, Inhofe said.

“All the farmers really care about it and that was the No. 1 issue with the Farm Bureau,” he said.

Inhofe said he is most pleased with an amendment to prevent the United States from entering into the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty. His amendment drew praise from the National Rifle Association. In 2009, the U.S. joined 152 other countries in endorsing the treaty.

“The arms treaty says that the nations that join the arms treaty would be obligated to go to the United Nations before they establish any kind of trade having to do with the military,” Inhofe said.

Inhofe also supported a successful amendment to approve the $5.3 billion Keystone XL Pipeline project, he said. About 800,000 barrels of heavy crude oil would be transported each day from Alberta to Gulf Coast refineries.

The budget amendment was approved with a 62-37 vote. Seventeen Democrats supported Republican North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven’s amendment. Inhofe said the vote was intended to bypass President Barack Obama’s authority to approve the project.

The Senate’s budget amendment vote is considered symbolic and non-binding, according to Reconciliation will need to take place with the House of Representatives’ budget bill.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of State revised an environmental impact statement for the 875-mile Keystone XL pipeline. The pipeline crosses international boundaries, so President Barack Obama will make a final decision on the northern-half of the project. Work is already under way on the pipeline in Cushing and moving south through Texas. | 341-2121, ext. 114