Dear Oklahoma Friends and Neighbors,

Next week, our nation will celebrate Independence Day. We are an incredibly blessed nation made up of hard-working, strong, passionate, and diverse people.

On June 15th, I had the honor of welcoming a new group of Americans during a naturalization ceremony in Oklahoma City. They came from all over the world, after waiting for years in the legal process, with the hope of one day enjoying the freedom we have every day as Americans. This 4th of July will be the best Independence Day of their life.

There is far more that unites us than divides us, and I encourage you to enjoy this holiday week
celebrating our unity as Americans. Be the leader in your community for civility and freedom. I wish you, your family, and your friends a safe and happy 4th of July.


CLICK HERE to view a tribute video to honor the thousands of people a year who become
naturalized American citizens.

It has been another busy month for the Senate. The Appropriations Committee passed all 12 of the annual appropriations bills out of committee and the full Senate has already passed three of those 12 bills. That is the earliest that appropriations bills have passed through regular order in more than a decade. The Senate has also passed the annual National Defense Authorization Act and the Farm Bill. There is also a tremendous amount of work happening in the committees. Obviously, in the next few months, we still need to finish the other nine appropriations bills and begin work on the confirmation of a new Supreme Court Justice after the announcement of Justice Kennedy’s retirement from the bench this week.

Immigration is Still Not Done
In late February, the Senate voted on four bipartisan bills to reform our broken immigration system in a way that secures our borders and provides an opportunity for naturalization for young DACA recipients. Unfortunately, all four bipartisan bills failed to receive the 60 votes that are necessary to pass the Senate. But, with the encouragement from the White House and multiple members of the Senate, I am still involved in the ongoing negotiations to resolve the larger immigration issue. For decades, the immigration problems have continued to grow and they will continue to grow until Congress votes to fix the problem.

In the past few weeks, the conversation surrounding immigration elevated when the administration chose to start prosecuting all families that illegally cross the border instead of releasing them into the country as the previous administrations had done for years. In 1997, a federal court in California ruled on the Flores Settlement Agreement which stated that the federal government could not hold children in detention for more than 20 days if they arrived illegally with their family. That immediately created a problem since it takes at least 35 days to hold an initial hearing for anyone who has crossed the border. So there are only two terrible options: 1. Release all families into the country or, 2. Prosecute the adults and release the children to the custody of a family member already in the United States or into foster care. For months, the President has asked Congress to fix the Flores decision with legislation. In fact, one of the Senate bipartisan bills voted on in February had a “Flores fix” in it. But unfortunately, it did not pass.

While I fully support the administration’s goal to actually enforce the law and encourage those
who want to come to the US to join the millions who do so legally each year, I cannot support the separation of families at the border. Our nation's default position should always be to keep families together. Last week, I joined 12 of my colleagues to call on the Department of Justice to pause family separation at the border while Congress works on a long-term legislative fix.

To fix this problem we need to dramatically increase the number of immigration judges so we can take care of the 700,000-person backlog of immigration and asylum cases and more quickly process immigration cases. We should make families entering the country illegally the first priority in our courts so they can get a decision faster. We should add more time during the wait for a pending court hearing so we do not have to separate families before their trial. And we must finally complete efforts to secure our border to reduce the number of people illegally entering the country.

Last week, I also joined a bill called Keep Families Together and Enforce the Law Act, which keeps families together while ensuring the integrity of our nation’s laws. Specifically, the bill would require that children and parents remain together during their immigration-related legal proceedings. This is a good first step to resolve the problem of separating families, but there is much work left to be done.

Our nation is a compassionate nation, but we are also a nation that believes in following the law. Over 1 million people each year legally become citizens of the United States. Over 500,000 people a day legally cross our southern border. Thousands of people approach our legal points of entry each month and request asylum. It is right to expect people who come into the country to do so the right way, and hundreds of thousands of people do.

Thankfully, President Trump signed an Executive Order to keep families together last week, but  Congress still needs to act to fix the problems facing our immigration system.

This week, I recorded my first podcast to break down the complexity of immigration. CLICK HERE to listen. Here are several interviews I did last week where I shared the reasons why we need to reform the immigration system. CLICK HERE to watch the interview with CBS This MorningCLICK HERE to watch the interview with NBC's Meet the PressCLICK HERE to watch my interview with Fox News.

I also spoke on the Senate floor last week and this week about the topic of immigration. CLICK HERE to watch my floor speech from last week, and CLICK HERE to watch my most recent floor speech to urge my colleagues to fix the problems in the immigration system.

Reorganizing and Streamlining the Federal Government to Serve Americans

Last week, the administration announced plans to reorganize the federal government. This is a good first step for a long overdue problem. Currently, the US government provides 20th-century services for a 21st-century public. Congress needs to provide the authority to enact commonsense ideas to streamline services, consolidate programs, and to make agencies more efficient to better assist the American people. The government will never be the most efficient organization in the nation, it is designed to get as much input as possible from as many people as possible—that takes time. But, it does not have to be wasteful or redundant.

The subcommittee I chair works on government agency and government employee efficiency. This is a full-time task for our team. This week, Senator Ron Johnson and I introduced a bill that would provide the administration with the ability to explore these big solutions and start a conversation about the tough problems that face the current system of government. This authority was granted to the Obama administration in 2011 when they also did some reorganization. I look forward to working with my colleagues and the administration as we address the logical changes that need to happen to make our government work more efficiently.

CLICK HERE to read my statement on the administration’s plan to reorganize the federal government. CLICK HERE to read more about the bill I introduced with Senator Ron Johnson. CLICK HERE to read the big ideas that the administration has proposed to the Congress and the American people.

Working Through August

Typically, August is the only month of the year that Congress is not in session. This allows members to spend time back home to hear directly from people all over their state. But this time, 15 of us banded together to push for the Senate to work through August in order to complete funding for the federal government by September 30, 2018, and to confirm President Trump’s judicial and executive nominations.

I’d much rather spend August traveling Oklahoma to visit with you directly, but if the work of the Senate is not complete we should keep working until it gets done. This is just like being back in school, if you don’t finish your work on time you should stay after class until you get it done.

So far the extra motivation has been exactly what the Senate needs. On Monday, the Senate passed three of the 12 appropriations bills that need to be passed by September 30, 2018, which includes funding for the KC-46A Tanker at AFB. CLICK HERE to read my statement. I continue to encourage my colleagues to pass appropriations bills without delay.

To read the letter my colleagues and I sent to Leader McConnell urging him to expedite floor consideration of funding bills, even if the Senate must work nights, weekends, and through August, CLICK HERE. To read my statement when Leader McConnell canceled the August state work period, CLICK HERE.

Senate Passes the National Defense Authorization Act

Last Monday, the Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act, commonly known as NDAA. This is an annual defense bill aimed to support the nation’s military and ensure national security for the US. This is one of Congress’ primary responsibilities each year. It is important to help support the women and men who serve our national security and Oklahoma plays a vital role in their support. Because of Chairman John McCain’s medical absence, Senator Jim Inhofe led the writing and floor debate for the NDAA.

I spoke on the Senate floor about the importance of the NDAA. CLICK HERE to watch the full video.

Keeping You in the Loop

  • On Wednesday, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement July 31, 2018. I’m grateful to Justice Kennedy for his 43 years of service on the federal bench. The Senate will now perform its Constitutional responsibility of ‘advice and consent’ and evaluate the President’s nominee to fill this role. To read my full statement, CLICK HERE.
  • This month, the Supreme Court released two decisions that protect the freedom of speech. Earlier this month, the Supreme Court upheld the foundational principle and constitutional right to the free exercise of religion and the dignity of all persons. The decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop affirmed that the free exercise of religion is more than the freedom of worship, it’s the right to live and work according to a faith of your choosing or to choose no faith at all. CLICK HERE to read more. The Court also ruled on the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra this week. CLICK HERE to read my statement.
  • Earlier this month, Oklahoma State Supreme Court Justice Patrick Wyrick's nomination to serve as US District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma passed the Senate Judiciary Committee. His nomination will move to the full Senate for a confirmation vote in the days ahead. CLICK HERE to read more.
  • A few weeks ago, I delivered a speech on the floor to talk about some good news—Oklahoma revenues are up 20 percent higher than expected, Oklahoma unemployment is low and the state is experiencing some remarkable job growth. To watch my floor speech on Oklahoma’s recent economic progress, CLICK HERE.
  • Our nation is only as strong as our communities and our communities are only as strong as our families. When fathers are engaged our families are better for it. This Father’s Day, I took a moment to reflect on the strength of our families and the roles dads play to contribute to Oklahoma’s prosperity and stability. CLICK HERE to read the editorial.
  • Last week, I joined several of my Senate colleagues to pass a $14.8 billion recessions package. Recessions are unspent funds in unused federal accounts. Unfortunately, two Republicans and every Democrat voted against the proposal so it fell one vote short of passing. While the appropriations process has improved this year, there is still not a serious commitment to reducing our growing national debt. As I have mentioned before, there is a bipartisan group of 16 Senators and House members that have met for months to work on a proposal to fix the budget process. We hope to have a major proposal ready by November 2018. To read more about the recession bill, CLICK HERE.
  • Farmers and ranchers in the United States feed much of the world. This week, the Senate voted on the Farm Bill. It is very similar to the previous 2014 Farm Bill, but it did not include many of the necessary reforms that have been detailed over the past four years. To encourage improvement during the conference committee process, I voted against the status quo Senate Farm Bill in the hope that we can write a better bill as we work with the House of Representatives. We can and should do better. Over the next month, we will work to make the needed changes before we vote on final passage. The single biggest issue in farm and ranch country continues to be the ongoing trade/tariff war. Our team continues to find ways to push the administration to finish their trade negotiations and resolve trade issues. CLICK HERE to read my statement.
  • I met with the regional leadership of the Army Corps of Engineers last week to talk about the Tulsa levee project and our dams and lakes in Oklahoma. We have many Corps projects that need attention. 
  • Last week, I participated in a rare public Senate Intelligence Committee hearing which focused on the policy response to Russian interference in the 2016 US elections. The hearing confirms that my bill to secure US elections is necessary to fight off any international interference in future elections. CLICK HERE to learn more about my election security bill. CLICK HERE to watch my Q&A from the hearing.
  • Did you know my office has caseworkers that are able to assist you with a federal agency? If you’re struggling to find an answer in a timely fashion from a federal agency, please contact my Oklahoma City or Tulsa office. They are ready and able to help you. CLICK HERE for 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.

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.