We Know We Belong to the Land - A Hundred Years of Oklahoma and the Congress
America in Turmoil (part 7)
The stability and seniority of Oklahoma representatives, the cross-party co-operation where Oklahoma was concerned, and Carl Albert's tenure as Majority Leader and then Speaker of the House combined to continue the Oklahoma delegation as a powerful force in Washington.
Tom Steed

Kerr's dream of the Arkansas River Navigation System was realized though not so completely as envisioned. The continuation and expansion of defense facilities around the state also displayed the delegation's strength. Tom Steed operated from a power base on the House Appropriations Committee. As Majority Leader and Speaker Carl Albert supported Presidents Johnson and Nixon in their Southeast Asian policy. Senator Bellmon influenced the nation's agricultural policies and advanced to ranking minority member of the Budget Committee. The Oklahoma delegation had reached a historic zenith of power on Capitol Hill.

Left: Tom Steed served thirty-two years in the House–the longest tenure for an Oklahoman. After he retired, Steed remarked, “A Congressman is four things. He’s a lawyer, an errand boy, an employment agent, and a Chamber of Commerce. Being a good errand boy is what will get you re-elected.”
Henry Bellmon
Above: Oklahoma’s first Republican governor, Henry L. Bellmon (R-OK, 1969-1980) exercised his own mind despite pressure from his party and Oklahoma constituency.  He opposed a Republican-supported amendment which would have banned school busing ; the measure failed by one vote.  In his second Senate term, he voted for ratification of the Panama Canal Treaties–again a move which disappointed the GOP.  (Courtesy Special Collections and University Archives, Oklahoma State University Libraries)
Dewey Bartlett
Above: Oklahoma’s second Republican governor, Dewey F. Bartlett (R-OK, 1973-1978) was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1972 but served only one term due to poor health. One of the most conservative members of Congress, he was a staunch opponent of abortion and busing.  He also championed oil and gas interests during the energy-short 1970s. In this photo, Bartlett speaks at an anti-abortion rally.
Del Smith, Ted Risenhoover, and Carl Albert
Above: Speaker of the House Carl Albert (right) stands with Del Smith (left)  and Representative Theodore M. “Ted” Risenhoover (D-OK, 1975-1978)  during the presentation of Bedrock, a book by Michael Cauthron and Del Smith in 1976. Often criticized for his “shoot-from-the-hip” statements, Risenhoover paid them little heed as he was a fighter of federal bureaucracy and a proponent of small business.

Copyright © 2007 Carl Albert Center at the University of Oklahoma
Last Modified 04/05
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