During the August district work period, I’ve been staying busy in Oklahoma. I’ve been all over town meeting with the great folks of the Fifth District, addressing the concerns of our community at civic organizations, policy groups, and our chamber of commerce. I’ve also visited some of our local businesses and community banks, as well as the FBI’s office in Oklahoma City to meet some of the OKC Division agents that keep us all safe. I applaud the work of the FBI and local law enforcement for investigating and arresting a man who sought to commit an act of domestic terrorism in Oklahoma City on August 12. Our intelligence community and local law enforcement work every day to protect our neighborhoods, and they often do it without the public ever knowing.
I was glad to speak with the Oklahoma City Economic Roundtable at Oklahoma City University’s Meinders School of Business earlier this month. I took the opportunity to discuss my continued concerns with the proposed privatization of the FAA’s air traffic control system. The impact this legislation would have not only on general aviation, but on national security, cannot be overstated. If this proposal were to become law, there would be no prohibition on the hiring of foreign nationals as air traffic controllers. There would be no oaths of office for those in the control towers dealing with not just our flights that happen every day, but also all of the things that go on with our military, our intelligence services, the FBI, drug enforcement, and border security. While I am supportive of modernizing our aviation and airspace infrastructure, it is very important that we do not relinquish control of our national air space.
On a visit to Oklahoma City’s Capitol Hill, I toured a newly renovated library which will open this fall. Cindy and I raised five kids, and moved 15 times over my 21 year career in the Army. With all of the moves, we often had to homeschool our children and we were grateful for the resources that were available to us at local libraries. Libraries provide access to knowledge, and it’s good to see the southeast Oklahoma City community working together to support this important resource.
I was honored to speak to an interfaith group seeking to make a difference in the lives of young people in the foster and adoption community. As a father of three adopted children in addition to my two biological daughters, I spoke about my experiences in parenting. During my time as an Oklahoma state senator, I was a staunch advocate for adoption reform. The family unit makes a positive impact on the life of a child. In the case of my own adopted children, their lives would have been very different if they had been raised in an orphanage rather than in a family.
As an aviator myself, earlier this month I enjoyed meeting with the good folks of the FAA’s Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center, which is the largest Department of Transportation office outside of Washington, DC. I’ve also been working with state and military leaders to prevent the installation of wind turbines in western Oklahoma that would compromise vital airspace that is utilized daily by several air force bases in the region for military training maneuvers. We must keep that airspace clear of obstacles that could impact the ability of our air force servicemembers to access their training areas.
While speaking with several of these groups during the August district work period, I expressed my opposition to raising the federal debt limit. As a nation we are $20 trillion in debt, and we simply can’t continue down the path we’re on. Cutting government waste has been a core objective of mine since coming to Congress. I’ve introduced 12 cost cutting bills this Congress, which if enacted would save the taxpayer $28.5 billion. My legislation has cut $4 billion from the federal budget thus far, and I’ve published seven editions of my Waste Watch report highlighting a total of more than $300 billion in wasteful government spending.
For this last week of the August district work period, I’ll be meeting with constituents and speaking with business owners and job creators in our community. To make it easier for you to see what I’m up to, I launched my official Snapchat account earlier this month. With more than 166 million users, and 45 percent of Americans between ages 18 and 34 on Snapchat, this platform provides a modern way to engage with elected officials. Use my Snapchat code to follow me on Snapchat.
As always, it is an honor to continue to serve the country and the people of Oklahoma.
Congressman Steve Russell