Click here to open this e-mail in its own browser window   Click here to open a plain text version of this email


Dear Oklahoma Friends and Neighbors, 

It has been another busy and frustrating week in our nation's capital. Things move very slowly, but at least things are actually moving. This week on the Senate floor, we debated the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Bill; the Appropriations Committee started hearings on the 12 annual appropriations bills; I held a hearing on federal hiring practices; spoke on the Senate floor about the rise of terrorism; and I met with a large number of Oklahomans in town. 

Iran Nuclear Accountability 

Last week, I introduced a Senate resolution to ensure President Obama holds Iran accountable if they violate the nuclear deal. The agreement, which was signed by President Obama on July 14, 2015, requires Iran to constrain their nuclear activity in exchange for a relaxation of nuclear-related sanctions. Much of the deal’s language is ambiguous and open to misinterpretation, which is why I opposed the nuclear deal and voted to disapprove it last year. My resolution is an important step to clarify our expectations and set in stone the Senate’s view of US actions if the terms of the deal are breached.

If Iran violates the nuclear deal in any way, the US should immediately reimpose strong sanctions, restrict Iran’s military build-up and reapply UN Security Council sanctions on Iran. Until Iran proves it is a peaceful, responsible nation, we must remain vigilant and steadfast.

CLICK HERE, to watch my speech on the Senate floor about the rise of global terrorism and the current threats we face, including Iran. CLICK HERE to read an opinion piece I wrote on the steps we need to take to hold Iran accountable. 

Detainee Transfer Transparency Act 

On Wednesday, Senator Jim Inhofe and I introduced the Detainee Transfer Transparency Act, which would prohibit any terrorist from being transferred to the United States, prohibit the closure of the Guantanamo Naval Base (which only uses a small portion of the base for detainees) and require the Obama Administration to be transparent and provide public notice of any release of a terrorist to another country. Almost one in three terrorists released from Guantanamo Bay are confirmed or suspected of returning to the fight.

My trip to Guantanamo Bay last year deepened my understanding of the need for this detention facility and the role it plays in our national security. Maintaining our facilities at Guantanamo Bay and the ability to detain international terrorists is extremely important for our national security. We must not weaken our resolve to confront terrorism and protect American citizens.

Anniversary of #CutRedTape Initiative

Last month, the Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management, which I chair, recognized the one-year anniversary of the #CutRedTape Initiative launch. The #CutRedTape Initiative was established as an online tool for American families and businesses to share their stories about how federal regulations impact them daily.

The stories submitted through the online portal have led to legislation to address some of the main issues seen in the submissions. In October 2015, I joined the ranking minority leader for the subcommittee, Senator Heidi Heitkamp, to introduce the Smarter Regulations Through Advance Planning and Review Act, which would require agencies to plan for and conduct regular mandatory retrospective reviews on the most expansive rules; the Early Participation in Regulations Act of 2015, which would allow Americans to participate in the regulatory process earlier; and the Principled Rulemaking Act of 2015, which would ensure that agencies propose rules that address verifiable problems. All three bills have passed out of committee and await action by the full Senate.

I am very proud of the work we have done on behalf of the nation to address the burdens federal regulations can have on our economy, families and businesses. I encourage you to continue to provide us feedback through the #CutRedTape Initiative online portal.  

To read more about the anniversary and the accomplishments of the subcommittee, CLICK HERE.

DHS Announces Change to Naturalization Test 

Last year, I raised several concerns with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services naturalization test issued by the US Department of Homeland Security because the test only reflected that the US practices ‘freedom of worship’ instead of ‘freedom of religion’. 

While it may seem like a small issue, when new American citizens learn their protected rights, they should understand the important distinction within the Constitution and the First Amendment. We have the ‘free exercise of religion’ in our Constitution, which protects our right to live a life of faith at all times and in all places. ‘Freedom of worship’ only reflects the right to live your faith at a particular time and location. We live in a great nation that allows individuals to live out their faith, or have no faith at all. To protect freedom and diversity, we must carefully articulate our rights correctly, especially to new citizens.

The lackluster and delayed response to my question about the incorrect language from the Department of Homeland Security was initially disappointing. However, after several conversations, the Administration has agreed to change the study materials and citizenship test to read ‘freedom of religion’ to fully express America’s First Amendment right of the free exercise of religion. 

Some weeks have small victories and some have large, but I am always grateful when we can move our nation back to our Constitutional values.   

To read the letter from the US Department of Homeland Security, CLICK HERE.

Amicus Brief on Immigration

Last week, I, along with 43 other Senate Republicans, filed an amicus (friend of the court) brief with the United States Supreme Court in the case of the United States v. Texas, to oppose executive actions from President Obama on immigration. Our founding documents undoubtedly separate the powers of government between the three branches. The President’s executive action on immigration is an obvious violation of this basic constitutional principal. Five lower court decisions have supported the rule of law and the legal restraint on the Executive Branch. Our brief clearly and simply asserts that Congress retains the sole authority to write our nation’s laws and the President has the responsibility to enforce the law.

To read the full brief, CLICK HERE.  

Keeping You In The Loop

  • On Tuesday, the Senate Committee I chair held a roundtable to discuss much needed improvements to the USAJOBS website and the federal hiring process. While there is a need to reduce the number of federal positions, when we do hire the American people should expect great service and careful attention to the needs of our country. Thank you to all the federal workers in our state who sacrifice every week to help their neighbors and our nation. CLICK HERE to read more.
  • UPDATE: On Wednesday, March 23, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the Little Sisters of the Poor case (Zubik v. Burwell). Following the arguments, on March 29, the Supreme Court asked for additional information from both parties. This case includes four Oklahoma universities. For more information, CLICK HERE
  • On Wednesday of this week, the Senate Judiciary Committee announced they would hold a hearing on April 20 for two vacancies for the US District Court for Western District of Oklahoma. The two federal judicial nominees are Judge Suzanne Mitchell and Scott Palk. To watch and follow the hearing, CLICK HERE
  • As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I voted for a bill this week which includes four military construction projects for Oklahoma. The first project is a simulator facility for the KC-46As at Altus AFB. The second project is a system integration laboratory at Tinker AFB, and the third project would consolidate facilities at the Ardmore National Guard Readiness Center. Finally, the Committee approved a new E-3 simulator facility at Tinker AFB. These four national priority projects are an example of how important Oklahoma is to the readiness of our military and our country’s national security.
  • Last November, I released a federal government waste report entitled, “Federal Fumbles: 100 ways the government dropped the ball,” which listed $105 billion in wasteful federal spending. On Tuesday, I introduced an amendment to follow through on one of the proposals – the elimination of the Essential Air Service. This program started 40 years ago as a “temporary” program, but, as always, federal programs keep spending until they are shut off. 
  • April is Month of the Military Child. As we support those who serve our country, let us not forget about the children who are also in our Armed Forces Community. Please help me celebrate by recognizing military children and the sacrifices they make. If you have a classmate or a military child who is new to your school, be the first to welcome them. To you and your family, thank you for all you do to support our state and our Armed Services communities.  

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.

Notice: If you wish to stop ALL electronic communications from my office, visit this link to opt out permanently from this list. If you have any questions about this Notice or your right to decline future electronic mail from this office, please contact us at United States Senate, 316 Hart Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510.