Lucas: 'It's been a crazy year and a half'
U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., told a gathering of municipal, county and tribal leaders Monday afternoon, Nov. 8 in Pawhuska that he had tested negative for COVID-19 after being exposed to someone who had been diagnosed with the illness.
Wearing a mask as he made remarks and took questions, Lucas also distanced himself from his audience in the council room on the second floor of Pawhuska City Hall.
An aide to Lucas said Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 10, that the congressman remained healthy. He travels on a lot of airplanes and tests regularly for COVID-19, the aide said.
Lucas said Nov. 8 that he and his wife have been vaccinated and he recommends vaccination, but does not believe it should be mandated.
“I think it’s a good thing to do and I urge people,” Lucas said. He complained, however, that he thinks the administration of President Joe Biden has “poisoned the well” when it comes to public willingness to take COVID-19 vaccinations.
Lucas blamed the administration for turning people off by leaning in the direction of vaccination mandates.
He also welcomed the development of antiviral pills to be used in the treatment of COVID-19.
“I think that will help, and will take some of the pressure off of being vaccinated,” Lucas said.
Monday marked Lucas’s first town hall in Pawhuska since before the COVID-19 pandemic began. In that time, the nation has endured the still ongoing pandemic, which has caused more than 750,000 deaths nationwide. The nation has also weathered political upheaval in connection with the 2020 presidential election.
“It’s been a crazy year and a half and that’s the only way to describe it,” Lucas said. He repeated that sentiment during his remarks.
Osage Nation Congressman Billy Keene, a member of the audience, questioned Lucas about his views on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in McGirt v. Oklahoma, which dealt with the status of Native American reservations and native sovereignty. The state of Oklahoma, through its governor and attorney general, have asked the high court to overturn the decision.
Lucas described the situation resulting from the McGirt decision as “just the most amazing, complex situation.” He commented that he didn’t know what the proper resolution of the situation would be, but he voiced hope that people would “do the right thing.”
Lucas also commented on a possible congressional response to the legal conflict caused by state-level legalization of marijuana for medical and recreational purposes. Oklahoma has legalized medical marijuana but not recreational marijuana. The use of marijuana remains illegal under federal law.
Lucas said he thinks the U.S. House of Representatives may attempt to move legislation to declassify marijuana as a controlled substance, but he finds it hard to believe the U.S. Senate would pass such legislation.
Osage County Clerk Robin Slack quizzed Lucas regarding his thoughts about congressional Democrats going after former President Donald Trump through the investigation of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
“I find it fascinating that they’re so afraid of him in 2024 that they feel compelled to go after him,” Lucas said. He recalled watching "the mayhem" from the Rayburn House Office Building, where his Washington, D.C. office is located.
Lucas also responded to questions and comments from more than one member of his Pawhuska audience about large federal spending legislation that has been up for debate this year. He commented that he shared their concerns.
"A trillion dollars is a lot of money," Lucas said. "We have to get a grip on the spending."