Oklahoma’s delegation in Washington will be sparsely represented at President Joe Biden’s Joint Session Presidential Address Wednesday, with many representatives choosing not to attend.
The joint session, which would normally host every member of Congress, will only be open to about 200 in-person attendees this year due to COVID-19. One of those in attendance will be Norman’s Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla.
A spokesperson for Cole confirmed to The Transcript Tuesday that he will attend the joint session speech and will issue a post-speech statement.
Cole spent the past two days in Orlando, Florida for the House GOP Retreat.
During his Joint Session Address — a functional equivalent of a State of the Union Address — Biden is expected to try to sell his packages to swing states, and is expected to unveil his American Families Plan.
Congressman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., will not be attending the joint session speech because of the limited seating, but will be watching it remotely, a spokesperson said.
“Having had the opportunity to hear many Joint Session Presidential addresses, I felt it was important for leadership to offer my seat to an underclassmen because of the extremely limited participation,” Lucas said.
Also not attending in person will be Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., whose office also cited limited seating due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Lankford will watch the address remotely, and will offer his remarks via Facebook Live directly following Biden’s speech.
Freshman Congresswoman Stephanie Bice, R-Okla., will not be attending the Joint Session Address as she will be in her district in Oklahoma, a spokesperson for Bice said Tuesday. The spokesperson did not say whether or not Bice will be watching remotely.
Congressman Kevin Hern, R-Okla., will not be able to attend the Joint Session because he was not invited to attend in person, a spokesperson told The Transcript Tuesday.
A spokesperson for Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., said that he will not be attending the address in person because of the limited availability he wanted to give others the opportunity to go. He will be watching the address remotely, the spokesperson said.
Congressman Markwayne Mullin’s office did not immediately respond to The Transcript’s request for comment.
UPDATE: This story has been updated with Sen. Jim Inhofe's decision to not attend the address in person.