WASHINGTON — Rep. James Lankford is among the four U.S. House members being targeted by an ad campaign sponsored by a coalition of construction and labor groups that want Congress to approve funding for highways.
Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, is among the House negotiators on a two-year highway bill that has been stalled in a House-Senate conference committee for weeks.
Congress is facing a June 30 deadline to pass the bill; otherwise, another temporary extension of current law would be required, likely prompting more frustration from state highway officials seeking some certainty for their long-term projects.
A radio ad, paid for by the Transportation Construction Coalition, says Lankford has a key voice in the debate and urges listeners to call the lawmaker's office.
“Will Congressman James Lankford be part of the problem or part of Oklahoma's transportation solution?'' the ad says.
Lankford said on Wednesday he was working with the rest of the negotiators to find a “fiscally responsible decision that ensures the future of our nation's transportation system.”
He said, “Any implication that I am not trying to accomplish a long-term transportation bill is absurd. The federal construction process is so complicated and expensive that our first step should be to simplify it, but we also cannot continue to add more and more debt. An out-of-state special interest group is welcome to express its opinion, but my responsibility is to the people of the 5th District of Oklahoma.”
Inhofe favors bill
Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, is the lead Republican negotiator for the Senate and has been pushing for passage of the two-year bill approved by a wide margin in the Senate. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., the Senate's lead negotiator, held a rally in Washington featuring a convoy of cement trucks urging House members to agree to the bill.