Amidst laughing and greetings the crowd was interrupted.
“Let’s pray you guys. Bow your heads,” as U.S. Senator James Inhofe offered a humble benediction. “Heavenly Father we just thank you and we rejoice in unbelievable blessings that you give to us…”
Inhofe was in Woodward on Wednesday for a short visit and said he enjoys it when people from Northwestern Oklahoma visit him in Washington because it’s one of the rare groups of real people who come.
“This is God’s country,” Inhofe mused. “Long before anyone around this table was born. I was a claims adjuster. And this is my territory. I had everything in Western Oklahoma. And people fought for this territory, Honestly, because nobody wanted something you were entitled to. It's just a different bunch of people the find anyplace else.”
According to Inhofe, you don’t really get sensitive to a problem until you’re there. Flying over the area after the wildfires and visiting with the people had a lasting effect on him.
“I was out here quite often I was flying around,” Inhofe said. “You don't get a flavor for the problem until you are fighting low over an area where the fire just swept through, and you have cattle on the on the fence row burned alive.”
At the time, a list was made of things that needed to be done, should something like that ever happen again.
“I'm proud to say is that it's all done. It’s all in law now. And these are the things I personally introduced,” Inhofe informed. “The Wildfire Regulatory Relief Act, that was a bill that had several provisions in and some of them we put in the farm act later.”
One of those provisions was to make CRP land available for grazing. Inhofe explained it required a change in statutes to make that happen. Another was freeing banks from some regulations.
“Allowing banks to be freed from some of the regulations that they had to take care of the people that were caught in these tragedies,” Inhofe said. “It seems that we have more than our share.”
Inhofe said he remembered talking to some of the same Woodward area people back when 17 Republicans were running for president and the one he thought least likely to win the nomination for the Republican party was a guy named Trump.
“This is a different Washington than we've had before,” Inhofe said. “I understand that he's not a lovable guy. I have to admit, I cringe a little bit when I hear a tweet coming on.”
Inhofe did say the infamous Trump tweets have accomplished a purpose nobody had ever thought could happen, because what he had to do was take the media away from the eastern press.
“He did that by using his tweets. And so there are now more people that are listening to his tweets than there are subscribing to the New York Times the Washington Post, but together,” Inhofe reported.
Dropping regulations has been something unique during this administration that Inhofe is very proud to be a part of.
“The 15 years that I was chairman of the environment, Public Works Committee. That's where that's where we hit all the regulations coming mostly from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).” Inhofe said. “They’re going to take away the regulation of water away from the states and put it in the federal government.”
The changes in the top people in the EPA and some of the deregulating have made it a different agency now, according to Inhofe. He emphasized the importance of water resources.
Military support dropped 25 percent from 2010 to 2015 with over $200 billion in cuts. According to Inhofe, we’ve paid for it dearly because people in that part of the world see the build up and assume World War III will happen and are trying to decide which side they are going to be on. As chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, he’s hopeful that though it is difficult, the funding is in the process of being corrected now.
Gone are the days of the Cold War where there were only two superpowers, according to Inhofe.
“Many countries that are run by insane people that have the capability of knocking Woodward off the map. I mean, that's not an exaggeration,” Inhofe warned.
After the meeting, Inhofe noted the deployed soldiers express relief over the changes happening on their behalf and in their support. High Plains Technical Center Superintendent Dwight Hughes took a moment to thank the senator, stating he has a son soon to be deployed in the Marines.
Inhofe concluded saying he’s always been fond of rural areas, there are some things you won’t hear anyplace else, and it’s where you find real people. He said out of the five Oklahoma military installations, Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) has evaluated five times since 1987, they are all beneficiaries each time. He attributed that increase to community support alone.
“It’s called community support. You assume everybody does that, but they don’t. But that we do, in Oklahoma,” Inhofe challenged. “That's the most joyous part of what I do.”