Dear Oklahoma Friends and Neighbors, 

July was another very busy month in the Senate and August will be just as busy. Typically, the Senate is not in session in August, but several of us encouraged Senate Leadership to keep us in session so we could work on passing the budget and presidential nominations. I’d much rather spend time traveling Oklahoma to visit with you face-to-face, but the work is not done yet in Washington, DC.

Thankfully, we have made progress by passing seven of the twelve funding bills that must be completed by September 30, including the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee bill, which I authored as Subcommittee Chairman. However, more work remains and the Senate will continue this important work over the next few weeks. If you need to get in touch with me, please contact my office or visit my website, I update the website regularly to help keep you informed.

Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh
At the end of June, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement from the bench after 43 years of service. In the following days, President Trump announced Judge Brett Kavanaugh as his pick to serve as Justice Kennedy’s replacement. Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to sit down with Judge Kavanaugh in my office to walk through his experience serving as a US Circuit Judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Our conversation focused on the separation of powers and the role of each branch of government, First and Fourth Amendment judicial precedent, and constitutional interpretation. It was a pleasure to meet with him one-on-one, and I look forward to his confirmation hearings in early September and a vote on the Senate floor in the days ahead.

If you would like to read more about Judge Kavanaugh, visit the "Current Issues" page on my website to access his 600-page biographical background, which includes links to additional pages of speeches, court opinions, and articles. Judge Kavanaugh has already turned over more than a million pages of background information, which is more than any other judicial candidate. CLICK HERE to access the "Current Issues" page.

To read my statement on Justice Kennedy’s retirement, CLICK HERE. To read my statement on meeting with Judge Kavanaugh, CLICK HERE.

Meeting with the President on Trade

Last week, I sat down with President Trump and his staff to discuss the ongoing trade negotiations.  Prior to our meeting, President Trump and the Commission President of the European Union announced they have agreed to work toward zero tariffs, buy more American natural gas, purchase America soybeans, and to wrap up trade disputes on cars, steel, and aluminum quickly. This is a significant step forward in our trade negotiations with Europe. During my meeting with President Trump, he laid out their plan to conclude all ongoing trade negotiations as soon as possible with Mexico, Canada, South Korea, and China.

I’ve continued to share with my colleagues and the Administration the direct impact the tariffs have made on Oklahoma families. For example, steel tariffs negatively impact manufacturing; the softwood tariffs are increasing the cost of new homes; the price of commodities has dropped over the past several months as farmers have lost markets or faced foreign tariffs. Newspapers are feeling the pressure since the cost of papers has increased dramatically. The list goes on. The United States is 25 percent of the world's economy, which means we can, and should, be able to see to the other 75 percent of the world. 

Free trade is good for our nation, good for our families, and good for our economy. I’m committed to ensuring that the Administration sees the negotiations through to bring stability back to the marketplace. CLICK HERE to read my statement following my meeting with President Trump and his staff.

Last Thursday, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer testified in front of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies. I asked him about the Administration’s goals to resolve trade negotiations and their plans to open new markets. CLICK HERE to watch my Q&A with him. The day before the Appropriations Subcommittee hearing, I spent a long time with Ambassador Lighthizer to talk one-on-one through trade policy and the direction of the global negotiations.

Secure Elections Act

The Secure Election Act is a bipartisan bill I introduced with my colleague Amy Klobuchar from Minnesota to strengthen election cybersecurity in America for the next election and future elections. The bill currently has 12 bipartisan cosponsors, including the Chair and Vice Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee. We should learn from the 2016 election and make the changes that are necessary to protect state's voting systems from hostile nations like Russia.

Earlier this month, the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration held two hearing on my bill. I testified in front of the Committee to urge them to pass this bill so states can streamline cybersecurity information-sharing with federal intelligence entities and to ensure support for state election cybersecurity infrastructure. On Wednesday, the Senate Rules Committee announced they will make technical changes to the bill during a committee hearing on August 15. This is one step closer to the bill being considered on the Senate floor. 

CLICK HERE to watch my testimony in front of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration.

I also spoke on the Senate floor to lay out the story of how Oklahoma’s voting system was targeted by the Russians. CLICK HERE to watch the speech.

Russia continues to interfere in many countries' elections to create instability and doubt in government. We must work to ensure our elections and nation is secure from future attempts of hacking. CLICK HERE to watch my interview with ABC’s This Week last Sunday.

The Breakdown with James Lankford

I recently started a podcast entitled, The Breakdown with James Lankford. This is an opportunity to break down the difficult issues that in the news and dig deeper into all the moving parts of an issue. The first episode covered immigration and the separation of families. This week, I released the second episode which covers trade and tariffs.

CLICK HERE to listen to the immigration podcast. CLICK HERE to listen to the podcast on trade.

Religious Freedom Summit

Two weeks ago, the State Department held a Ministerial to Advance International Religious Freedom. Senator Coons and I hosted a bipartisan event on Capitol Hill in conjunction with the summit. Earlier this week, I also had the honor to participate in the US Department of Justice Religious Liberty Summit in front of religious leaders of many faiths, legal scholars, and Administration staff. CLICK HERE to view my remarks at the summit. 

Keeping You in the Loop

  •  Some good news to report, after two years of unjust imprisonment by the Turkish government, American pastor Dr.  Andrew Brunson has been released from prison on house arrest. This is a step in the right direction, and my colleagues and I, along with the President and Vice President, continue to push Turkey to bring Dr. Brunson home to the United States. CLICK HERE to read my statement after Dr. Brunson was released. CLICK HERE to read about my meeting with Dr. Brunson’s daughter last week.
  • Earlier this month, I introduced Tulsa attorney, John O’Connor at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee to serve as District Judge for the US District Court for the Eastern, Northern, and Western Districts of Oklahoma. He is a very respected attorney in our state, and I know he will continue to serve Oklahoma and the nation well in this role. To watch the full introduction, CLICK HERE.
  • Although it is not the current headline in the news, my colleagues and I continue to work to resolve the immigration issues in our country. Two weeks ago, my colleagues and I sent a bipartisan letter to President Trump to urge the Administration to work with the faith community on efforts to reunify families that have been separated at the border. It is important we continue to stress that the default position of the United States should be to keep families together at the border. CLICK HERE to read the letter. But, uniting families does not negate the bigger problem we have with illegal immigration. Each year, over a million people from all over the world legally become citizens of the United States. Each day, over 500,000 people legally cross the southern border for business and tourism. We have hundreds of thousands of people who follow our immigration laws each day; we should not ignore them and their effort to do what is right.
  • Last Monday, the Senate confirmed the new Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Robert L. Wilkie. I supported Secretary Wilkie’s nomination because there are important issues facing our veterans, especially with health care and VA medical facilities. I look forward to working with Secretary Wilkie to resolve these issues. Our veterans have served our nation; they deserve to have a VA that provides the same level of service and commitment. CLICK HERE to read my full statement.
  • On Friday, the quarterly GDP economic report was released. It showed that our economy is thriving and that the tax and regulatory reform passed last year is working. Here are the facts: America’s economy continues to grow, unemployment is the lowest it’s been in 18 years, more than 1.2 million jobs have been created this year, businesses are investing and expanding, and 4.1 percent GDP is the largest single-quarter growth the nation has seen in several years. Our economy is finally growing and expanding as a traditional American economy grows and expands.
  • 2018 has been full of achievements and work, but there is more to be done. We continue to work on the issues that are important to Oklahoma like trade, immigration, and support for our growing economy. Here is a short video highlighting the first six months of 2018. CLICK HERE to watch.
  • The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed the House and Senate this week. The President will sign the bill into law in the days ahead. The NDAA is incredibly important for Oklahoma and our nation. This is the main policy document for our military for the next year and it dictates the support and plan for the country's national defense. 

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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