Dear Oklahoma friends and neighbors,

2016 has been full of many ups and downs, historic events, and major elections. We have experienced some legislative victories, like passage of the National Defense Authorization Act, a comprehensive bill to combat the tragic opioid drug epidemic in America, and reforms to the Food and Drug Administration. But there are countless issues that still need major reforms. 

As we approach Christmas and come to the end of a year, we should remember that even with all of our country’s challenges, we are still blessed to live in the greatest country on earth. We also have many Oklahomans serving our nation around the world this Christmas who need our encouragement, prayer, and support.  

I look forward to what’s in store for 2017, but I want to take a minute to update you on a flurry of activity in Washington, DC that occurred in the last few weeks.

Federal Fumbles

A few weeks ago, I released my second-annual government waste and solutions report called, Federal Fumbles: 100 ways the government dropped the ball. The report identifies $247 billion in wasteful and inefficient federal spending and regulations but also includes solutions to each of the examples of government waste. CLICK HERE to read more about the report and learn about the areas of legislative improvements made after last year’s report. CLICK HERE to view a TV interview that I did about the report.

CLICK HERE to view a video compilation of highlights from the release.

Continuing Resolution

Although the federal debt wasn’t a major focus during the presidential campaign, it remains a serious impending crisis that must be addressed. In Fiscal Year 2016 alone, we had $587 billion in overspending, and our federal debt is now an outrageous $19.5 trillion. I voted against a Continuing Resolution (CR) bill to fund the government until April because it continues the long pattern of irresponsible spending. We desperately need to change the budget process so we can get a better budget product. I am part of a small group of Senators who are pushing for serious budget reform to finally get on top of our debt.  CLICK HERE to learn more about why I opposed the short-term funding resolution. Before the vote, I explained my position further on C-SPAN. CLICK HERE to view the interview.

21st Century Cures

Over the last decade, the gap between biomedical innovation and our regulatory process has become intolerable. Of the 10,000 known diseases in the world, there are treatments for only about 500. Last week, Congress passed a law called the 21st Century Cures Act that will improve research and innovation and ensure our health system can keep pace with advances in science and technology. The bill has a special emphasis on research for cancer, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's and on major reforms to the way our nation treats mental illness. The bill breaks down regulatory barriers and expedites approvals for safe drugs and devices. It also provides additional funding and research capabilities for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and regulatory reforms for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). President Obama signed the bill into law this week. 

I look forward to seeing how this legislation will positively impact patients and families in the years to come. To learn more about this innovative legislation, CLICK HERE.

Protecting our homeland, supporting our troops

I’m pleased to announce that Congress authorized another year of funding for our troops through the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The NDAA has been signed into law for 54 consecutive years, and it is one of the most important pieces of legislation that Congress does. 

With international instability and conflict on the rise, it is important to ensure that our men and women in uniform have what they need to keep us safe and protect our freedom. Specifically, I’m pleased that the bill supports the Air Force's KC-46A Tanker program in Oklahoma, increases depot maintenance, supports facility modernization, and prevents the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.

To read more about the passage of NDAA, CLICK HERE.

Keeping You in the Loop

  • Over 3,000 Oklahomans have contacted my office to request tickets for the presidential inauguration. It’s great to see such a large number of Okies who want to be in Washington DC, on January 20, 2017. My office was allotted only 400 "up-close" tickets, which will be issued through a lottery process, but we are glad to say that EVERYONE can attend the inauguration. It just may be farther out on the National Mall. Huge screens and quality sound will give every spectator a great view of the presidential oath and speeches. CLICK HERE for more information.
  • At noon on January 3, 2017, the Senate will swear in newly-elected Senators and convene the 115th Congress. I am honored to be one of the Senators who will be sworn in that day. If you are in Washington, DC on January 3, please let my office know so we can provide details on the events surrounding the new session of Congress.
  • I congratulate Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt on his nomination for Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). With his proven record in Oklahoma, I know he will follow the law, fight for consumers who face higher prices for energy, and assure each state retains its constitutionally-guaranteed powers. To read more CLICK HERE
  • In early January, the Senate will begin confirmation hearings for all of the president's nominees for cabinet officials and other Senate-confirmed posts. Not all of the White House staff are required to have Senate confirmation, but each one  to be confirmed will undergo extensive background checks and hearings. You may express your thoughts on any nominee to my office.  
  • Over a year ago, I asked the non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study the federal ethanol mandate and its effect on prices, consumer options, and EPA alternatives. The GAO reports were completed a few weeks ago, which allowed me to chair a hearing for my Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs to examine the EPA’s management of the Renewable Fuel Standard. After the hearing, it was clear that the ethanol mandate is unworkable and must be repealed. CLICK HERE to read more.
  • Iran remains a major state sponsor of terrorism and threat to international security. A few days ago, the House and Senate passed a bill to extend existing sanctions on Iran until December 31, 2026, because of its continued terrorist ambitions. These sanctions aim to deny Iran the resources to support terrorism or develop weapons of mass destruction. CLICK HERE to read more.
  • The national debt remains one of the greatest long-term threats to our nation, and we must find a way to rein in federal spending. Last month, I wrote an opinion piece on why the focus needs to shift to address the national debt. The clock is ticking louder on the most predictable debt crisis in history. Let’s get to work. CLICK HERE to view the full article.
  • Offices of Inspectors General are on the front lines in conducting government oversight, and I am pleased that Congress passed the IG Empowerment Act that provides these watchdogs the tools they need to protect your tax dollars by rooting out waste, fraud, and abuse.
  • Some estimates show that we spend $1.7 billion in federal funds to maintain more than 75,000 empty and underutilized buildings. Last week, Congress made an important advance in tackling waste in federal real property management by passing two bills that require the identification and disposal of expensive and underutilized federal properties that cost Americans millions and make necessary changes to the way federal agencies manage their property by streamlining and incentivizing the sale of unneeded properties.
  • We are very grateful this Christmas season to the members of the Oklahoma National Guard as they prepare to deploy to Ukraine in the new year. As we celebrate the holiday season and the new year, please remember the brave Oklahomans who are proudly protecting our homeland.

Stay Connected! 

If you would like more information on these topics or any other legislation currently before the United States Senate, please do not hesitate to call my DC 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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