WASHINGTON — If Oklahomans had strong opinions Wednesday, the second day of the government shutdown, they didn't feel compelled to call their lawmakers about them.
“Eerily enough, it's extremely quiet,” said Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Westville.
Many of the ones that have called, he said, “are saying ‘Stay strong, we're praying for you.'”
“There's people that say open it up and there's people that say keep it down, but overall it's quiet.”
Rep. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, who has taken some of the calls, said Wednesday that the number was down considerably from Tuesday. His theory, he said, was that activists and outside groups that help coordinate calls were waiting for the next big development.
According to The Washington Post, the Oklahoma City metro area ranks 12th in the nation for the percentage of the workforce made up of federal employees; the area has 40,000 military and civilian workers out of a 610,000-person workforce — nearly 7 percent.
Tinker Air Force Base and the Federal Aviation Administration's aeronautical center are the biggest, but other federal agencies have field offices in the area as well.
Lankford's district includes the FAA center and many field offices, while Tinker is in the district of Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore.
Cole's office on Wednesday received calls from “both sides of the spectrum,” though there has been an uptick in the last two days of callers who want the government to reopen.
Sen. Tom Coburn's offices received a normal rate of calls, according to an aide, with the majority expressing opposition to the Affordable Care Act.
Coburn, R-Muskogee, who never backed the strategy of trying to defund Obamacare through a must-pass spending bill, said Wednesday that he didn't think House Republicans should relent now. Both sides, he said, need some way to save face.
“My hope would be that common sense and leadership and compromise solves the problem,” Coburn said.
Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Tulsa, held a telephone town hall meeting Tuesday night with residents of his district. Out of more than a dozen calls, only one challenged his position that changes should be made to the health care law as a condition for reopening the government.
Many of the rest praised him and expressed concern that Republicans would back down.
“It's really not hard to stay strong,” Bridenstine responded. “It would be surprising to see the Republicans cave on something so simple” — asking Democrats to negotiate.
Heading back to his office Wednesday after a round of votes on a Republican effort to fund some agencies, Mullin said both sides bear some of the blame and that he didn't know which would blink first.
“Both sides can't give anymore because their whole objective is to make the other side look bad,” he said.