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Dear Oklahoma Friends and Neighbors, 

In the past few days, we passed new sanctions on North Korea, blocked new taxes on the Internet, held hearings on regulatory reforms and immigration, worked on our energy policy, met with numerous Oklahomans in DC, held an Oklahoma telephone town hall and attended the National Prayer Breakfast. I even had a couple of college students from East Central University in Ada shadow me for a day this week.    

Our staff continues to work on policies that will help our Oklahoma families as we deal with our economic downturn. When regulations, federal policies and mandates hurt job growth and innovation, we all suffer.

President’s Budget

On Tuesday, President Obama unveiled the last budget proposal of his presidency, which came with a $4.1 trillion price tag, new programs and several new taxes. In the next few weeks, Congress will again lay out a public plan to balance the budget. In eight years, the President has never proposed a single balanced budget.

To break out of the vicious cycle of over-spending, our system requires the House, the Senate and the White House to all agree; if anyone disagrees, the budget basically maintains the status quo; which is over-spending. Over the past twenty years, our nation has slowly drifted deeper and deeper into debt; it is past time for a course correction. It will take years of work to get us back to balance, since we cannot get this corrected in a single year. But we can get started right now.   

Fixing the budget starts with fixing the budget process, our bad process continues to give us a bad product. To hear my proposals to fix the processCLICK HERE.

Fees and Fines

Many small business owners have told me that they worry about government inspectors because there are so many rules and the inspectors seem so eager to give them a fine for the smallest issue. We need clear safety rules, but we also need common sense when the rules are enforced. I held a hearing this week with EPA and OSHA leadership to discuss how federal agencies can get back to serving people instead of forcing people to serve them.  

To watch my opening statement and Q&A, CLICK HERE.


As I travel Oklahoma, the number one issue I hear about is education. We are all concerned about our state’s budget deficit and how it will affect education. As a parent of a child in Oklahoma public school and someone who is passionate about the future of our state, this is also a big issue for me.

I hear and share your concerns. Late last year, we repealed the "No Child Left Behind" law and returned control of education back to the states. We eliminated national curriculum, national tests and national teacher evaluation. This is the first state legislative session in 15 years that our state leaders have the freedom to make real changes to our state education, without the heavy-handed national mandates.  

I recently wrote an opinion piece for the Tulsa World that details some of the good news from Washington, DC that is an essential first step to get our schools back on track.

To read the opinion piece I wrote on education, CLICK HERE

Gaining Ground

Last week, I spoke at the annual Heritage Action Conservative Policy Summit about my vision to improve how Congress hears from the American people and how we can enact good policy.

As Americans, we like quick solutions, but we also do not like being cut out of the conversation. While we all see so many things that must be done in our nation, we also know that most changes in America are gradual, not sudden. It has always been this way. In a letter from Thomas Jefferson to Rev. Charles Clay (who was considering running for Congress) in 1790, Jefferson wrote, “…the ground of liberty is to be gained by inches, that we must be contented to secure what we can get from time to time, and eternally press forward for what is yet to get.” Yes, we have a long way to go and yes the progress is slow in Washington, but it is essential that we keep gaining the ground of Liberty, even if it is an inch at a time.  

To watch my full speech at the Heritage Action Conservative Policy Summit, CLICK HERE

A Decline in Rural Hospitals

Rural hospitals are essential for Oklahoma communities and families. The threat of closure of rural hospitals is a serious risk, and an issue I discussed at length at the National Rural Health Association’s (NRHA) 27th Annual Rural Health Policy Institute in Washington, DC last week. 

Congress needs to develop solutions that will protect rural access to health care and provide states the tools to make healthcare decisions based on their local needs. I support the Rural Emergency Acute Care Hospital Act, which would create a new Rural Emergency Hospital classification under Medicare.

To learn more about the Rural Emergency Acute Care Hospital Act, CLICK HERE.

It’s Time for Meaningful Debate

The Senate is often referred to as the world’s greatest deliberative body, but over several decades, both parties have used Senate rules to stymie debate rather than encourage it. I firmly believe the Senate should encourage more dialogue on the Senate floor, not backroom deals. It’s time to change the Senate rules to allow debate to begin with a simple majority, instead of the current system where almost every bill requires two votes of 60 senators— one vote to start debate and another vote to end debate. The Senate is the only place in our government where the voice of the minority is always protected, that should remain. But if you eliminate the first vote of 60, at least you could open debate and still protect the minority during the closing vote.  

It’s time to stop complaining about the lack of progress in Washington, DC and fix the Senate rules. We have a lot of serious issues to discuss and it's time the Senate floor be the place where ideas can be offered and solutions can be voted on.

To read my opinion piece in the Washington Post on the Senate rules, CLICK HERE.

Permanently Phase Out Renewable Energy Tax Credit

Last week, the Senate considered the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2016. During debate, I offered an amendment to completely phase out the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for renewable energy tax credits, including wind. 

The 1992 credit was originally designed to temporarily support new renewable energy sources. After 24 years of tax credits, it is time to phase out this unnecessary subsidy. Each year the subsidy is extended, it costs hard working American taxpayers up to $10 billion. The wind industry is thriving in Oklahoma, they have proven they can provide electricity for our homes and economically stand on their own.  

Oklahoma is an all-of-the-above energy state, and I support all types of energy. We are stronger as a nation when we have diverse energy sources, but we are also stronger as a nation when we confront our serious debt problems.   

To watch my speech on the Senate floor, CLICK HERE.

Cut Foreign Aid to Nations Who Mishandle GITMO Terrorists 

In December, we forced the President to sign legislation that prevents moving GITMO detainees into the United States. Last month, I sent a letter to the Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, to urge him to cut foreign aid to nations who mishandle GITMO terrorists.

In January, two detainees were transferred from Guantanamo Bay to the west African nation of Ghana. To ensure that terrorists do not return to the fight, I believe we should reduce foreign aid to any country that agrees to accept GITMO detainees who later return to terrorism. To keep our nation secure, we should move the detainees in GITMO to trial, not move them to another country.  

To read the full letter, CLICK HERE.

Keeping You In The Loop

  • Today, Sen. Inhofe and I introduced the Veterans Affairs Accountability Act, which would allow the directors of Veterans Integrated Services Network at the Department of Veterans Affairs to remove or demote any VA employee whose performance warrants such an action. To read more, CLICK HERE.
  • After months of challenges from states and Congress, the Supreme Court this week stopped one of the President's most recent executive actions on power generation in America. The Supreme Court agreed with Congress and the states that the Presidential "Clean Power Plan" could cause significant economic harm to the nation. A lower court will now rule on the issue of Presidential authority, before the issue likely returns to the Supreme Court. To read more about this dramatic decision by the Supreme Court, CLICK HERE.
  • On Tuesday, the Senate Intelligence Committee held its flagship hearing of the year—the Worldwide Threat hearing. This rare open session highlighted the vast range of threats facing our nation. I took the opportunity to ask the Directors what they plan to do to confront the epidemic of heroin and other drugs that come out of Mexico, how Iran continues its terrorist support and how quickly ISIL continues to spread into Libya and over a dozen other nations. To watch my Q&A, CLICK HERE.
  • Last week, the Army announced plans for several changes at Fort Sill. Our nation faces serious world-wide security threats, and it’s more important than ever to have an Army that is resourced and trained to defeat these global dangers. I will continue to work with Fort Sill to ensure our soldiers are properly resourced and trained. To read more, CLICK HERE.
  • Last month, I wrote a letter to the Department of Education to request clarification on their process when they create policy for colleges and universities through ‘guidance’ documents instead of regulation or legislative action. After 28 days, I still haven’t heard from the department. To read more, CLICK HERE. To read the letter I sent in January, CLICK HERE
  • Are you on social media? If so, follow me on Facebook at Senator James Lankford and Twitter and Instagram @SenatorLankford for daily updates on what I’m up to in Washington, DC to represent the interest of Oklahomans! 
  • If you plan to travel for spring break or summer vacation, make sure your passport is up to date! Your passport can take up to six weeks to process, so don’t wait until the last minute. CLICK HERE to visit the website, or call my OKC office at 405-231-4941 if you have questions.

Stay Connected! 

If you would like more information on these topics or any other legislation currently before the U.S. Senate, please do not hesitate to call my D.C. office at (202) 224-5754. My Oklahoma City office can be reached at (405) 231-4941 and my Tulsa office at (918) 581-7651. You can also follow me on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram for updates on my work in Congress.

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