Oklahoma U.S. Senators weigh in on massive infrastructure bill

OKLAHOMA, Okla. (KOKI) — Oklahoma’s two U.S. Senators are still waiting to see the details of a massive infrastructure bill considered to be a bipartisan compromise with a high chance of becoming law.

Last week, a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators stood next to President Joe Biden outside of the White House as a $1.2 Trillion deal was announced. The spending package includes things for roads, bridges, airports, mass transit, rail transit, and broadband infrastructure.

FOX23 reached out to both U.S. Senators Jim Inhofe (R) and James Lankford (R) to see if they knew what could be in store for Oklahoma, but FOX23 was told that no one outside of the group that met with the President knows of any specifics at this point.

Inhofe told FOX23 last month that he was working on a bipartisan transportation infrastructure bill, but his spokesman told FOX23 she wasn’t sure if that bill was included in what was being talked about at the White House.

Lankford said on The Brian Kilmeade Show last week on 102.3 KRMG Tulsa’s News and Talk that he too had not seen what was in it yet, and so he has not taken a position on how he will vote yet.

“I do think we need to do infrastructure, and I do think that needs to be bipartisan,” Lankford said. “It’s just hard to tell what’s in the proposal right now.”

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the bill is not just to benefit states that voted for President Biden, but she emphasized there were things for all states in the package meant to benefit all Americans.

“It would rebuild roads and bridges in people’s communities, including Republicans,” Psaki said. “We fully expect the American people to be for this, and yes, we expect to have the votes to get it forward.”

Some things FOX23 News is keeping its eyes on in particular that the State of Oklahoma and the City of Tulsa either cannot financially do on their own or have no authority to build include possible passenger rail service linking Tulsa to Oklahoma City and Kansas City and a replacement for Tulsa International Airport’s control tower that is more than 60 years old.

TIA’s tower is so old that if wind speeds get high enough, the tower has been evacuated in the past because of swaying.

Locally, Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum said Oklahoma City-Tulsa passenger rail service did not seem like something that the travelling public wanted, and he suggested more improvements to roads and highways to prepare for autonomous, driverless vehicles that are coming into production.

But with Amtrak receiving its biggest investment since the quasi-public company began passenger service in the 1950s, it’s possible the Federal government could be looking to fill a gap up the nation’s mid-section between Oklahoma City and Kansas City where Tulsa just happens to sit at an unofficial halfway point on a rail line.

“It is the largest investment in public transit in history. It is the largest since the founding of Amtrak,” Psaki said.