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Dear Oklahoma Friends and Neighbors,

As you spend time with your family and friends this Memorial Day weekend, please join me to remember and honor those who have died to preserve our freedom. They and their families deserve our recognition and gratitude. 


CLICK HERE to watch a special Memorial Day message.

It’s been a very busy couple of weeks in Congress. I hope this Lankford Letter helps you stay updated with what’s happening in the United States Senate.  

Obama Administration’s overreach on Oklahoma Schools

Last week, I challenged the US Department of Education after they, along with the Department of Justice, sent a "guidance letter" on May 13 to every public school district in the nation to force a national policy on the use of bathrooms, locker rooms, and dorm rooms for transgender students. This is a continuing pattern of overreach from the President to create new laws without going through the legal, transparent process. No Oklahoman wants to see any child bullied, but we deserve the right to make our own choices on how to honor and protect every child. A national bathroom, locker room, and dorm room policy is not needed and not legal.

In the letter, I asked Education Secretary John King to explain the legal justification behind the department's policy being forced on public schools. To read the full letter, CLICK HERE. A number of law professors agree that the Department of Education is guilty of a long pattern of overreach. To read their comments, CLICK HERE. 

Oklahoma universities’ Obamacare case back to lower court

Last Monday, the US Supreme Court announced they would send back to lower courts a case on religious freedom and the overreaching Obamacare mandate that involves four private Oklahoma universities and other religious organizations.

Freedom of religion is foundational to our culture. No administration can run over people of faith or demand they change their religious practice to serve the preferences of the White House. Although there is still much work to be done with this case, I am encouraged by the Supreme Court’s action and remain hopeful that the lower courts will uphold the First Amendment right of religious people and organizations to live out their convictions in their everyday lives. 

CLICK HERE to read my full remarks on the Court’s decision.

It’s time government meets the needs of Americans

For the first time in decades, the Senate has considered appropriations bills through an open, transparent process that allows the American people to participate. Over the past month, we have addressed three of the 12 appropriations bills to fund several federal agencies for next year: the US Department of Energy, US Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation (FY 2017 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill, HR 2028); and, last week, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Transportation, and Department of Housing and Urban Development (THUD and MilCon-VA, HR 2577). Last week, the Senate included an amendment to ask for emergency funding to address the US response to the Zika virus. This emergency funding would add over $1 billion to the national debt.

Zika is a disease carried by a particular type of mosquito. The most common symptoms for Zika are a fever, rash or joint pain. Although it is rare for anyone to die of Zika, the virus is especially dangerous for children and pregnant women. We must protect unborn children from Zika, but we should also protect our children's future by not adding debt that could be easily avoided. 

We should address the spread of Zika in the US, but we do not need to grow the debt to do so. I could not, in good conscience, support the THUD and Mil-ConVA Appropriations bill because it irresponsibly funds the response to Zika, and it spends outside the agreed budget caps. What is the purpose of a budget if we do not stick to it?

I tell my staff all the time: there is a right thing to do, and there is a right way to do it. The right thing to do is to address the US response to the Zika virus; the right way to do it is to use unobligated funds to address infectious diseases. The US has a $4 trillion budget. We can find $1 billion to pay for Zika responsibly.  

To read more about my solution to prioritize funding to address the Zika virus, CLICK HERE. To read an op-ed I wrote about how the administration used money set aside for Zika for climate change, CLICK HERE. To read my op-ed on emergency spending and international crises, CLICK HERE.

Federal Fumbles update

Last November, I released a report entitled “Federal Fumbles: 100 ways the government dropped the ball.” The report lists $105 billion in wasteful federal spending and $800 billion in negative regulatory impact to the economy. Since then, a few of my report’s examples of government waste have been voted on in the Senate.

For example, last week the Senate voted on an amendment to defund the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” regulation. This was listed on page 105 of my “Federal Fumbles” report. While the intent of the regulation is worthy, it would place stringent requirements on cities from DC bureaucrats and take the decision-making authority from local communities. To read more, CLICK HERE.

Here are a few links to other proposals that have passed the Senate from the “Federal Fumbles” report: CLICK HERE to read about the NDAA amendments to cut waste at the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs (pages 19 & 70); CLICK HERE to read about the proposal to disapprove the flawed Fiduciary Rule (page 95); CLICK HERE to see a solution to a Federal Fumble voted on by the Senate to direct the National Nuclear Security Administration to perform routine assessments of project performance (page 94); and, CLICK HERE to read a bill I introduced with Congressman Steve Russell to eliminate a nearly 40 year old “temporary” program (page 64).

National Defense Authorization Act

This week, the Senate began debate on the National Defense Authorization Act, which funds and directs operations for the US Department of Defense. During debate I offered four amendments to the bill. I introduced one amendment with Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois to cut foreign aid to nations who mishandle GITMO terrorists. To learn more about the amendment, CLICK HERE.

I also co-sponsored a bipartisan amendment with Senator Jim Inhofe and 29 other senators to block a program to privatize military commissaries. To read more about the amendment, CLICK HERE. 


This week, I introduced the Grant Reform and New Transparency (GRANT) Act to ensure every American has the opportunity to apply for federal grants. In 2015, federal agencies spent $617 billion to award federal grants compared to $439 billion in contracts, yet the process lacks a transparent system that includes oversight or feedback.

Individuals who need grant money are typically not the ones who can afford to hire a grant writer to deal with the current, cumbersome process. The GRANT Act will enact changes within each federal agency to apply simple, commonsense changes to their grant programs to allow everyone to participate, such as including writing samples online and providing organizations feedback if they are not awarded a grant. On Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs passed the bill out of committee. 

Eighteen of the 100 examples from the “Federal Fumbles” report deal directly with federal government grant programs. To read more about the GRANT Act, CLICK HERE

Keeping You in the Loop

  • Yesterday, I delivered a speech to recognize the 95th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Riot. To watch the speech, CLICK HERE.
  • Yesterday, I offered an amendment to the Department of Homeland Security Accountability Act during a committee markup hearing to change federal agencies' policy to shorten administrative leave. This change will save the government millions in waste. CLICK HERE to read more.
  • Last week, I objected to a fiscally irresponsible $7.5 billion spending amendment to the THUD/Milcon-VA appropriations bill. Congress needs to stop using one-time, emergency spending and find a permanent solution for our veterans. CLICK HERE to watch my speech.
  • Last Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved two Oklahomans to serve as US District Judges for the Western District of Oklahoma. We hope to consider both nominations in the full Senate in the weeks ahead.
  • Two weeks ago, the Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management, which I chair, held a hearing on the problems with the Social Security Administration Disability backlog, including 13,000 Oklahomans. To read more, CLICK HERE
  • On May 12, the US District Court ruled that the Obama Administration improperly funded the Obamacare subsidy. CLICK HERE to read more.
  • Last week, I visited with One America News Network about my bill Taxpayers’ Right to Know Act, which would require all federal government agencies to publicly list programs that spend $1 million or more. To watch the full interview, CLICK HERE.
  • It’s that time of year! I encourage all Oklahomans to stay weather aware and take precautions during a weather emergency. FEMA has put together some great information about emergency preparedness that you can find HERE. For Oklahoma-specific disaster mitigation information, CLICK HERE.
  • I will attend a breakfast and roundtable hosted by the Oklahoma Fosters Initiative on Tuesday, May 31 to discuss foster care in the state. To join us for breakfast, please CLICK HERE to RSVP. For the roundtable, please CLICK HERE to RSVP. 

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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