Dear Oklahoma Friends and Neighbors, 

Due to the intensity of this year’s Senate schedule, I’m not home nearly enough right now. Since January 2, I have only been in Oklahoma one full week. As Congress continues to deal with multiple policy issues, including health care reform, confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court nominee, national security, and regulatory reform, I look forward to hearing your thoughts and insights on the needs we face as Oklahomans. I hope this e-newsletter is helpful in keeping you up-to-date on what is happening in the nation’s capital.

While in DC, I’m continually looking for new ways to connect with Oklahomans. This week, I hosted my first Facebook Live Conversation with thousands of Oklahomans. If you weren’t able to join us, there are still a number of ways to reach me: by phone, mail, or email, or you may request a meeting with my staff in the state or DC. Of course, if you are in DC any time soon, join us on Wednesday mornings for “Java with James.” I look forward to connecting with you in the days ahead.

Obamacare Repeal & Replace

In the last Lankford Letter, I walked through the process Congress needs to take to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Last week, I visited the White House to discuss with the Vice President and White House legislative staff a path to a bill that provides a smooth transition to lower costs and better coverage options for all Americans. Everyone on our team continues to work very hard to stay focused on the priorities to protect the most vulnerable, keep health costs down, and return regulatory authority to each state.

Over the past six years, healthcare costs have skyrocketed, many physicians have left their medical practices, and every Oklahoman has fewer choices for health insurance. While there is tremendous debate on what the answer to healthcare will be in the future, it is clear we cannot continue on the current path.

When the House of Representatives passes its version of healthcare reform, the Senate will then take up the bill and make its changes. If you have specific ideas for healthcare reform, please send me your ideas at

CLICK HERE to read more.

Confirming Neil Gorsuch for US Supreme Court

This week, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a full week of hearings on the nomination of Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court. He has received very high marks in his testimony, including from Oklahomans from both parties. The committee vote is scheduled for next week, which will allow the full Senate to vote on his nomination in two weeks. A quick history lesson: No justice of the Supreme Court has ever been filibustered by either party in the history of the nation. Every justice has had an up or down vote after they passed out of the Judiciary Committee, even when the Judiciary Committee voted not to recommend.

CLICK HERE to read more. 

Russia and Our Election

I serve on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. We work year-round on oversight of our intelligence operations around the world. Several months ago, we began investigating Russian interference in the 2016 US elections. This is a bipartisan committee that consistently works on difficult issues of national significance. While there has been quite a bit of drama around the House Intelligence Committee, the members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence have quietly pressed to find the facts and answers. Our commitment to each other, and to the nation, has been to follow the facts wherever they lead, without jumping to conclusions or making assumptions. We will keep you informed as the investigation continues, and we will release an extensive bipartisan report when we conclude the investigation.

Border Security

Earlier this week, the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, on which I serve, held a hearing with field officers from Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). They spoke openly about the challenges they face enforcing immigration law, the physical threats they deal with, the long hours they work at the border, the low morale among agents, and the need for greater support. They have a very difficult law enforcement task. Our staff has already started working on ways to help them. If you are interested in working for ICE or CBP, these agencies are looking for great officers to join them in reinvigorating their important work. Get more information by CLICKING HERE.

NW Oklahoma Wildfires

Two weeks ago, I was able to visit Harper, Woodward, and Beaver Counties to see the damage caused by the wildfires. It was devastating to witness first-hand, but very encouraging to see communities coming together to support those directly affected. Since then, additional wildfires have burned through the northeastern part of the state. Last week, I spoke on the Senate floor to bring awareness to the Oklahoma wildfires. I want the Senate and the nation to know there was a fire as big as the state of Rhode Island burning in NW Oklahoma, and many people haven’t heard of it. We will walk through this together.

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

Regulatory Reform 

Earlier this month, I introduced five bills that will improve the federal rulemaking process so it works better for all Americans. My goal is to improve the process for how regulations are made by instituting greater transparency and accountability, no matter who the president is. These bills focus on improving current issues with the regulatory process by providing clear, concise regulations, allowing public engagement sooner, curbing the abuse of agency guidance documents, and forcing agencies to analyze the total impact regulations have on small businesses.

Congress needs to update the way regulatory process works in order to protect Americans from burdensome regulations that stifle job growth and raise prices on consumers. The bills I introduced are: Early Participation in Regulations Act of 2017, Better Evaluation of Science and Technology Act, Truth in Regulations Act of 2017, Providing Accountability Through Transparency Act of 2017, and the Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act.

To read more about each bill, CLICK HERE.

Taxpayers Right to Know Act

Last week, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, of which I’m a member, discussed my bill, the Taxpayers Right to Know Act. As you’ll recall, the bill will require federal agencies to make public the details, costs, and performance metrics of every federal program that has a budget greater than one million dollars. Currently, Americans do not have access to this information. We are one step closer to passing the bill since the committee unanimously approved it.

In January, the House passed the bill unanimously and the next step will be for the full Senate to vote on it.

To read more, CLICK HERE.

Intelligence Committee Trip to Middle East

Last weekend, I traveled to Israel, Lebanon, and Jordan with several other members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. The purpose of the trip was to evaluate regional anti-terrorism efforts, conduct oversight of intelligence programs, and visit key allies in the fight against terrorism.

Most Americans will never meet our men and women serving around the globe, who monitor international terror cells and activity to ensure America remains safe. It is important that terrorists are identified and defeated in the Middle East before they bring the fight to our homeland.

CLICK HERE to read more. 

Keeping You in the Loop

  • On Wednesday, I hosted my first Facebook Live Conversation. If you missed it, CLICK HERE for a recap. Right before we started, votes were called, which caused the beginning of the conversation to be unpredictable, mobile, and live. 
  • I wrote an opinion piece for The Hill on the anniversary of the date on which the US declared ISIS atrocities as genocide. To read the full piece, CLICK HERE
  • Last week, President Trump released his budget. This is the start of a conversation about the federal budget and the best way Americans hard-earned taxpayer money should be spent. They even used a few of the recommendations I made in my Federal Fumbles report. CLICK HERE to read more. 
  • Last week, I spoke with Fox News about the imprisonment of American Pastor Andrew Brunson, who is currently being held without cause in Turkey. CLICK HERE to watch the full interview.
  • On Thursday, I met with leadership from the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) about the status of the American burying beetle and the lesser prairie chicken. Although their populations have increased, both of these species are on the FSW Endangered Species List, which has caused a significant economic impact to Oklahoma ranchers and developers. I want to make sure the listing/delisting process is transparent, the data is verifiable, and the Fish and Wildlife Service takes into account the population temporarily affected by the wildfires in Oklahoma. 
  • Special thanks to the state’s emergency management planners, who develop and coordinate emergency plans in Oklahoma and across state lines. Their work saves lives and lessens the physical and financial impact of disasters. As we prepare for spring weather, we are grateful to have their support, but pray that we don’t need it. 

Stay Connected! 

If you would like more information on these topics or any other legislation currently before the US 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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