U.S. Sen. James Inhofe (R-Tulsa) made a visit to southern Oklahoma on Friday, bringing some good news to the local aviation community.
The “Pilots Bill of Rights” was just one of many issues Inhofe discussed with the Durant Democrat in an exclusive interview. He also discussed a new highway bill, President Obama’s defense cuts, gun control issues, energy and the “Law of the Sea” Treaty.
There were several positive points, such as the $1 million in roadway improvements secured for Durant by Inhofe since 2005. But the majority of the items were political footballs pitting the Obama administration against legislative efforts by Republicans such as Inhofe in a Democrat-controlled Senate.
Up first: The pilots. Friday’s quick fly-in by Inhofe to Durant’s Eaker Field seems to make this appropriate. He has been a pilot for 60 years, and arrived Friday in a twin-engine Cessna. He is the Senate’s only active commercial pilot, following the retirement of John Glenn.
The Pilots Bill of Rights, which passed the Senate on June 29, would protect the rights of pilots from “an ever-encroaching FAA enforcement process by providing access to evidence, fairness in the appellate process (and) a review of FAA procedures with aviation community input,” according to Inhofe.
“The goal is to have it considered quickly by the House. I believe they will take it up very soon,” he said. “I will be going to Oshkosh (Wis.) next week, where I plan to unveil the Pilot’s Bill of Rights as newly enacted law.”
Other issues on the senator’s plate likely have far-reaching implications, for the nation as well as Oklahoma residents. Inhofe is against defense “sequestration,” a ten-year budget cut proposal by Obama to downsize the military. “This president will go down as the most anti-defense president in history,” Inhofe said. “Even his own secretary of defense says it would absolutely devastate (the military).” Without congressional intervention, the sequestration will be in place by Jan. 2, 2013. Inhofe says Oklahoma could lose 16,000 to 20,000 jobs, on top of losses already felt at two air force bases and Boeing in Oklahoma City. The senator – a former National Rifle Association “man of the year” is “taking up leadership” against a United Nations treaty regulating the trade of firearms. “The treaty has the potential to undermine our foreign policy and national security strategy, and infringe on American citizens’ Second Amendment rights,” Inhofe stated. “This treaty could restrict the export of arms to our allies… However, this treaty would have no impact on bad actors such as Russia, which would continue to arm countries like Syria. I am fighting this treaty with 57 other senators.” He also wants to combat Obama’s “attack on fossil fuels.” He said the president “has done everything he can to stop coal, oil and gas. When the day comes when we have the technology to do it, that’s fine.” Inhofe reiterated his support to opening energy exploration on public lands, and our nation could be independent of Middle Eastern oil sources in “weeks, not years,” if those were explored. Inhofe opposes the Law of the Sea (LOST) Treaty because it would “destroy U.S. sovereignty” with the potential to give taxation authority to the United Nations.