withdrawal from Syria

WASHINGTON — Members of the House of Representatives voted Wednesday to condemn President Donald Trump’s troop withdrawal from Syria, with Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK2) standing as the sole Oklahoman in the House to vote against the measure.

The bipartisan measure passed 354-60, with Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK4), Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK3), Rep. Kevin Hern (R-OK1) and Rep. Kendra Horn (D-OK5) all voting to condemn Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from Syria. Four members of the House voted present, while 14 members did not vote.

“The administration’s decision to abandon our Kurdish allies in Syria has created a humanitarian crisis and poses a threat to our national security. This irresponsible action has set in motion a resurgence of ISIS, an invasion by Turkey, and gives Russia a strong foothold in Syria,” Horn said in a statement.

Gaylord NewsThis story was reported by Gaylord News, a Washington reporting project of the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Oklahoma.

Mullin did not release a statement last week regarding Syria or the removal of U.S. troops from the region.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), however, blocked the measure to condemn the president in the Senate on Thursday. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has not said whether he will bring the measure to a vote.

Since the removal of U.S. troops, Turkey launched an incursion into Syria. While Vice President Mike Pence announced a five-day-long ceasefire agreement with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday, reports of continued fighting in Syria are being circulated.

“Erdogan’s actions risk undermining our bilateral relationship, destabilizing northeastern Syria, squandering hard-won progress against ISIS, creating a new humanitarian crisis and harming our Kurdish partners,” said Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, in a statement.

Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) took to the Senate floor on Wednesday to explain the complexity of the issue, as well as give historical context to the relationship between Turkey and the Kurds in Syria.

“Everyone wants to say good guys, bad guys, and they’re missing the point in the history of what’s happened in that region,” Lankford said.

Senate votes on Trump’s emergency declaration at border

On Thursday, Lankford and Inhofe both voted against a resolution that would terminate Trump’s national emergency declaration at the southern border, which allocates federal funds to the construction of a border wall.

The Senate voted 53-to-36 to override Trump’s veto that took place on Tuesday. The vote fell short of the two-thirds majority needed in the Senate to override a presidential veto.

Ten Republican senators voted alongside Democrats to override the veto, however, Lankford and Inhofe were not among the group. Eleven senators did not vote on the resolution.

“The case for the President’s emergency declaration is clear—we need to take action now to build the wall,” said Inhofe in a statement. “I’ve visited the border seven times and this fact is more apparent than ever. I applaud the president for his veto and look forward to continuing working with him to secure our border.”

This is the second time senators have failed to override Trump’s veto on ending the emergency declaration.

Bridenstine joins Trump on call to first all-female spacewalk

NASA administrator and former Representative for Oklahoma’s 1st Congressional District Jim Bridenstine joined Trump in calling participants of the country’s first all-female spacewalk on Friday.

Bridenstine sat next to Trump in the White House as the president spoke to Jessica Meir and Christina Koch, the two astronauts who made the historic walk to replace a power controller outside the International Space Station.

“Christina Koch is actually going to have the longest single endurance mission,” said  Bridenstine to Trump following the call. “So she’s going to be on the Space Station for, I think, it’s a about 10 months, which is the longest we’ve ever had a woman on the Space Station ever.”

Bridenstine also invited Horn, who is a member of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, to watch the spacewalk at the NASA headquarters prior to the call on Friday. Horn was joined by several other House members from across the country.

Bridenstine said the spacewalk will pave the way for NASA to send the first woman to the moon in 2024, something Trump has vowed to do as part of NASA’s Artemis program.