Lucas stresses political limits on legislation

Robert Smith
U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas prepares to brief constituents in Pawhuska about legislative possibilities in Washington, D.C.

U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas, in an Aug. 21 town hall stop in Pawhuska, told a small audience at the community center what very likely won’t be agreed upon before the next presidential election in 2020.

There will be no comprehensive healthcare legislation, and there will be no definitive immigration bill, he said. Lucas has been a member of Congress for a quarter-century, and he used modifiers like “loudest,” “shrillest” and “craziest” to describe what he thinks the 2020 presidential race will be like. He suggested his constituents take a deep breath.

“People lose their minds when they run for president,” Lucas said. He cautioned members of his audience, regardless of their views about Donald Trump, not to underestimate Trump’s chances of re-election. He expressed the view that some Democrats are so sure that “Trump is a goner” that they’ve begun to fight with each other over philosophical purity.

Lucas said he does anticipate the president and Congress will work on an infrastructure bill. He suggested that how the projects included in such legislation are to be paid for, and how far the money will spread across the nation, are the central questions to be answered.

On the subject of trade, Lucas said he thinks Congress needs to approve the revision of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that the Trump administration has negotiated with the Mexican and Canadian governments. The new agreement is called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA.

“It’s been ready for months,” Lucas said, explaining that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has told the Trump administration not to send the agreement for a vote until it renegotiates environmental and labor provisions of the document with Mexico.

“We’ve pushed the Mexican government about as hard as we can push them,” Lucas said, commenting that he thinks it’s time to ratify the agreement. Lucas said ratification of the UCMCA would put pressure on the Europeans and the Japanese to negotiate with the U.S.

Issues raised during the town hall by constituents ranged from immigration to regulations affecting independent pharmacies, to Social Security and Medicare.

“If you’re 50 and above, I think you’re going to be OK,” Lucas said regarding the future of Social Security. He indicated that those under the age of 50 might have cause to be nervous.