Dear Oklahoma Friends and Neighbors,

I hope you and your family had a blessed Thanksgiving and are able to enjoy this Christmas season. The work in Washington continues to focus on important legislation that is creating a lot of conversations. Tax reform, budgets, nominations, disaster relief, immigration, national defense, and more will dominate the calendar for the rest of 2017 and early 2018. 

Thousands of people have contacted my office in the past few weeks. As we finish out the year, I hope you will keep in touch with any concerns or suggestions you may have. You can find all my contact information HERE. It’s an honor to serve you in the US Senate.


Senate Passes Historic Tax Reform Bill

CLICK HERE to watch the video.

It’s been more than 30 years since the US tax code was last reformed. Over three decades, special tax perks and deductions have been added to help a small number of people, but most people have not received real tax relief. Last week, the Senate passed a tax reform bill that will simplify the tax code, cut taxes in every bracket, and help get the economy growing again. The hardest part for anyone watching the tax reform debate is keeping up with the constant debate, edits, and exchange of ideas over the past month. While there is a great deal of information out there about the bill, there is a great deal of misinformation as well.

On average, the American economy has steadily grown three percent or more each year over the last 70 years. But for the last 10 years, economic growth has only averaged two percent, and last year, our GDP was just 1.5 percent. When our economy slows that much, we lose our economic health, wages stagnate, companies slow their hiring, and Americans lose hope that things will ever get better. Eight years ago, Congress passed a giant government-funded stimulus package costing almost a trillion dollars in an attempt to get the economy moving after a very big recession. But, instead we have had eight years of historically slow economic growth.

We need a different path to economic growth. Before Christmas, Congress will finish merging the best elements of the House and Senate tax bills into one final bill and then send it to the President. After a year of hearings, debate, and economic scoring predictions, the tax proposal is almost done.

CLICK HERE to read my statement on the Senate passage of tax reform. To read an opinion piece I wrote about the Senate tax reform bill, CLICK HERE.

FCC Reforms Tribal Lifeline Program

Last month, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to reform the Lifeline low-income subsidy program, which is a reform I have urged for years and included in my Federal Fumbles report.

The original intent of the Lifeline program was to benefit low-income Americans who do not have access to an emergency phone because of their financial need or rural location. Unfortunately, the program became like many federal government programs: inefficient and fraudulently abused by those who do not qualify. The action recently taken by the FCC will redefine the individuals who are eligible for the additional subsidy through the Lifeline program and reduce fraud and waste in the program. If it does not fix the problem, I will once again press the FCC for additional changes until we solve the issue so that it only provides assistance to those who truly need it.

To read more about the FCC reform, CLICK HERE.

Federal Fumbles—Volume 3

CLICK HERE to watch my floor speech.

Last Monday, I released the third volume of my government waste and solutions report, Federal Fumbles: 100 ways the government dropped the ball. This year’s report lists $473.6 billion in wasteful and inefficient federal spending.

During 2017, Congress and the Administration have made some progress rolling back wasteful spending and a number of harmful and burdensome regulations from previous Federal Fumbles reports. The nation’s $20 trillion national debt will continue to increase until we implement spending cuts, government reforms and focus on creating a healthy economy.

The 100 “Fumbles” are simply examples of the larger problem of government oversight and duplication.

Here are a few examples from Federal Fumbles:

The National Science Foundation awarded a grant last year to study the services provided to refugees who relocated to Iceland. Now I'm sure the country of Iceland would like to know how it's going for refugees, and maybe even the UN would like to know, but I'm a little stunned that the National Science Foundation used American tax dollars to study refugees in Iceland.

The IRS has had multiple issues, which my office has tried to identify in Federal Fumbles. Several years ago, we noticed that the IRS was rehiring employees they had fired. The employees were fired for reasons such as they weren't paying their income taxes or the employees were using their position to spy on other Americans and pull up their tax information for their own interests. Well, these actions are—and should be—reason for termination at the IRS. The concern, however, is the IRS started rehiring those same people. I don't know many companies that fire somebody only to later change their minds and rehire them. But apparently, the IRS has become proficient at that. We identified this problem several years ago. The IRS said they would stop it, so we checked in last year. Guess what? The IRS is still rehiring employees they have fired, some whom even had their files stamped “Do not hire."

A federal grant was awarded to a local community theater in New Hampshire to help pay for their performance of “Doggie Hamlet,” an outdoor presentation that involves a group of people yelling and singing at a group of sheep and sheepdogs. For the record, the production does not include one line from Shakespeare’s, Hamlet. If the great folks in New Hampshire want to pay for a performance of “Doggie Hamlet,” I have no problem with it. But Oklahomans should not be forced, through federal tax dollars, to pay for it.

As in previous reports, Federal Fumbles includes commonsense examples of ways to limit spending and fix government inefficiency. I hope you’ll take the time to look at the report—unless you already have high blood pressure. If you see examples of waste in the federal government, please do not hesitate to share them with my office. CLICK HERE to watch the press conference. CLICK HERE to access the report.

Push to Reform Senate Rules

This has been a very slow year for Senate confirmations. For previous Presidents, their nominations were always allowed to go through a thorough, yet rapid, confirmation. But this year has been different. The Senate has confirmed 252 nominations this year, compared to 413 of President Obama’s nominations in his first year and 481 of President Bush’s nominations in his first year. There are over 4,000 positions for the President to fill. If we maintain the current pace, it will take us 11 years to confirm all of the President’s staff.

We need to change the Senate rules governing the confirmation process. For the past five months, I have talked to both Republican and Democratic members of the Senate to negotiate a rule change on nominations. My proposal to limit debate time (after nominees have been approved in committee) will be debated next week in the Senate. It is my hope that we can get the Senate working again for the American people.

CLICK HERE to watch a speech I gave on the Senate floor earlier this year on the need to reform the Senate rules. CLICK HERE to read an op-ed that I wrote for the Wall Street Journal.

Keeping You in the Loop

  • This week, my Chief of Staff Greg Slavonic was asked to serve as the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserve Affairs. Before Greg was my chief of staff, he served 34 years in the Navy, rising to the rank of Rear Admiral. He will be a tremendous asset to the Pentagon, but he will be missed by our team and our state. Greg’s new position will require Senate confirmation, so it will be more than a month before he transitions to his new role. CLICK HERE to read more.
  • On Tuesday, I, along with my colleagues Senators Grassley, Cornyn, Tillis, Cotton, and Perdue, introduced the SECURE Act. This bill will fix the issues with our nation’s border security and immigration system. This is not the final bill; it was designed to be the first step to begin discussion on commonsense solutions to DACA and the issues related to illegal immigration in America. To read more, CLICK HERE. To watch my floor speech, CLICK HERE.
  • Last week, the Senate passed the RESPECT Act, which I co-sponsored. This bill will repeal several outdated, offensive federal laws against Native Americans, including unenforced laws currently in place that subject Native Americans to forced labor or to the removal of Native American children from their homes to attend boarding schools without the consent of the parents. CLICK HERE to read more.
  • Over two decades ago, a large bipartisan majority in Congress asked the President to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Then earlier this year, the Senate unanimously voted again to encourage the President to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. For decades, the Office of the Prime Minister, the Knesset, the Supreme Court, and most other government offices in Israel have been located in Jerusalem. This week, President Trump acknowledged what is obvious: Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. CLICK HERE to read more.
  • During the past few days, I have worked with several of my Senate colleagues and the President to develop a plan for the future of ethanol. The federal ethanol mandate raises prices on gasoline for every Oklahoman. It is not too much to work toward a diversity of fuels, a clean environment, and lower prices.
  • Last month, I sent a letter to the Trump Administration about the ongoing renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). We encouraged US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to quickly finish his negotiations so America can continue to sell our products across North America. To read the letter, CLICK HERE.
  • Before Thanksgiving, the long-awaited Museum of the Bible opened its doors in Washington, DC. Along with Senators Cornyn and Coons, I introduced a bipartisan Senate resolution to recognize the grand opening. I encourage every Oklahoman to visit the museum to see some of the world’s most breathtaking treasures. CLICK HERE to read more.

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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