With GOP boom, Oklahoma power grows
By Chris Casteel, Oklahoman Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON — Rep. Frank Lucas spent several years working his way to the top spot on the House Agriculture Committee. Once he became chairman, in 2011, he fought for three years to get a sweeping farm bill passed; it was arguably the most significant legislation in the past two years that made it through both houses and got signed into law.
The western Oklahoma rancher will lose his chairmanship in the next Congress, which begins in January, because of the term limits House Republicans impose on those positions. But he isn’t bemoaning the loss of power and prestige. He said his blood pressure has improved considerably.
“I’m actually kind of a citizen-congressman again,” he said in an interview. “I can have some fun.”
Lucas’ profile may be somewhat lower in the next Congress, but others in Oklahoma’s seven- person — and all Republican — delegation will gain influence.
Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore, will become one of the most powerful members of the House Appropriations Committee — the one that decides where the money is spent — when he takes over as chairman of the subcomittee that oversees the Departments of Health and Human Services, Education and Labor.