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Stephanie Bice's path reveals opportunities, perils for suburban Republicans

Stephanie Akin, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in Political News

Bice was in the House gallery as rioters overtook the Capitol on Jan. 6 and was shuffled from one location to another through basement corridors, she said. She said the events of that day represented a failure of Capitol Police leadership.

“That needs to be looked at, but it needs to be looked at in a bipartisan fashion,” she said. She was one of 35 House Republicans who split with party leadership to vote for the nonpartisan Jan. 6 commission, many of them from swing districts like her own. But she drew a distinction between that measure and a later vote — after Senate Republicans had blocked the bipartisan probe — to establish a House select committee to investigate the riot, which she said could be “nothing but political theater.”

Bice’s supporters said the nuance in her positions surrounding the events of Jan. 6 shows that she takes her job seriously.

In the state Senate, Bice was an assistant majority floor leader and chaired the Finance Committee. Upon arriving in Congress, she was elected class president by her GOP freshman peers.

Several Republican strategists who spoke on the condition of anonymity said both experiences would be good springboards for future leadership positions. Bice is also the only woman in Oklahoma’s five-member House delegation and, as the first Iranian American elected to Congress, she adds diversity to the GOP Conference.

Democrats accuse her of being an apologist for extremists.

 

At a town hall in September, Bice said she had signed a letter to the Justice Department expressing concerns that some of the people arrested in connection with the Jan. 6 riot were being held in solitary confinement and deprived of a fair trial, according to local media reports.

While most have been released from custody while awaiting trial, some remain in jail and some in solitary confinement, according to PolitiFact.

“She was more passionate about the conditions of the Jan. 6 rioters in prison than the conditions Oklahoma is facing,” Broyles said, citing the recent surge in coronavirus cases in the state.

Broyles said Bice had missed opportunities to demonstrate bipartisan leadership important to Oklahomans when she sided with Republicans on a party-line vote against advancing an infrastructure reconciliation package that included broadband expansion — a key issue for the state’s agriculture community — and legislation to promote equal pay for men and women performing the same job, which passed the House in April with only one Republican “yes” vote.

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