Dear Oklahoma friends and neighbors:

Spring is finally here, which means green grass, thunderstorms, and the beginning of the federal budget season. The President released his budget ideas earlier this month, and both the House and Senate have started hearings on their budget. All of the appropriations bills must be complete by October 1 to avoid another government shutdown. 

A few weeks ago, I worked with Senator Maggie Hassan from New Hampshire to draft a bipartisan solution to end government shutdowns, protect federal workers and the American people, and put pressure on Congress and the White House. The bill automatically allows temporary funding at last year’s spending levels when Congress has not passed new appropriations bills by October 1, but it also prevents Cabinet members, the budget staff of the White House, and Members of Congress and congressional staff from traveling until the appropriations bills are complete. 

Simply put, we cannot leave until the work is done. Requiring Congress and the White House to keep working until there is a solution is a better way to work out our real differences, instead of shutting down the government, which impacts millions of families and costs taxpayers even more money. 

CLICK HERE for more details on the bill.

Mueller Report

After two years, $25 million, 500 interviews, 2,800 subpoenas, 500 search warrants, with a team of 19 lawyers and 40 FBI agents, and endless national media speculation, Mr. Mueller finished his comprehensive report, which concluded that no one in the Trump campaign or in the Trump family conspired with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election. Now that it is over, I believe the American people should be able to read as much as possible of the final report and that Congress and the White House should get back to work. This has been a long and expensive distraction to our nation.  

During my time on the Senate Intelligence Committee, we worked on a bipartisan investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. We also did not find that anyone with the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to interfere, but it was clear that Russia started working in 2014 to disrupt the 2016 election. Russia has now attacked the free elections of every NATO country. The US should remain vigilant to address the weaknesses in our voting systems to stop any foreign adversaries from meddling in our election system in the future. In the days ahead, I will release an updated version of the Secure Elections Act that addresses the lessons we should learn from the 2016 elections and how we can assure our free elections remain secure.  

Senate Rules 

A few weeks ago, the Senate Rules Committee passed out of committee my resolution to update the Senate rules for floor debate on nominees. In the past every President has been allowed to hire their staff and get to work. Each President has more than 1,200 nominees that require Senate confirmation, usually those nominees receive a Senate hearing, background checks and extensive questions before they are quickly voted on by the full Senate. Most nominees have to quit their jobs or leave their businesses to go through the nomination process, so it is important for them and for the agencies to have a quick resolution of their nomination. But in the first two years of President Trump’s Administration, his nominees have been forced to go through additional time requirements 128 times. While the rules of the Senate allow anyone to ask for more time for debate (a full day of delay plus an additional 30 hours of debate on the floor), it has only been requested 24 times for the past five presidents combined.  

While I understand that some people in the Senate do not agree with President Trump, the nomination delays have created a serious problem. The Senate cannot debate legislation while the floor is held for nominations, so we cannot finish our required work when there are so many requested delays. The delays also create a “new normal” in the Senate, which will continue during the next president’s term, which will slow the work even more. We need a change in the rules to fix this problem. 

Nominees need debate time and serious consideration in the Senate, but most nominees are not controversial. In fact many of President Trump’s lower-level nominees have had less than 15 minutes of actual floor debate and have passed with more than 70 votes. 

My proposal will still require extensive background checks, committee hearings, follow-up questions, and a vote out of committee, but once there is a majority in the Senate, a lower-level nominee can only be delayed for a full day plus two hours, not a full day plus 30 hours. Circuit court, Supreme Court, and Cabinet-level positions would still have 30 hours of debate. This is a reasonable rule change to get the Senate back to work, regardless of who is in the White House.   

CLICK HERE to watch my quick video on my rules change proposal.

CLICK HERE to watch my remarks on the Senate floor about the resolution. 

CLICK HERE to read more about the resolution itself.

National Prayer Breakfast

As you may have heard, on February 5th I had the opportunity to serve along with my friend, Senator Chris Coons from Delaware as an honorary co-chair of the 67th annual National Prayer Breakfast. For more than two years, Senator Coons and I have led the weekly Senate prayer breakfast and prepared for the National Prayer Breakfast at which our nation welcomes people of all faiths from all over the world to come and pray for our nation, its leaders, and our international partners. For the National Prayer Breakfast, we asked Gary Haugen from International Justice Mission to speak and Chris Tomlin to lead the worship.  

Senator Coons and I recently penned an op-ed with Fox News, which said in part: “In a Congress that often seems more divided than the country we serve, we have learned how to put partisan politics aside. We both participate in the weekly Senate Prayer Breakfast, where every Wednesday morning, two dozen senators – Republicans and Democrats – from a wide range of ideologies and faith backgrounds gather to pray. For at least one hour each week, we talk about personal stories, sing songs of faith, and pray for our nation and our families. Praying together doesn’t solve everything, but as we’ve often said, it is much harder to throw a rhetorical punch at someone on the Senate floor when you’ve held hands in prayer that morning.”

CLICK HERE to read my op-ed with Senator Coons.

UPDATE: Finance Committee Hearings on Prescription Drug Prices 

Prescription drug prices affect nearly every Oklahoma family at some point, and for most families their costs seem to continue to increase without an end in sight. Rising drug prices are caused by a number of inter-related issues, but there are ways we can protect patients from ever-increasing prices while ensuring the research and development process for new, innovative, life-saving drugs. Already this year, the Senate Finance Committee, on which I serve, has begun a multi-part hearing process to determine some of the issues contributing to rising drug prices and ways we can actually solve them. 

CLICK HERE to watch my questions in the first Senate Finance drug pricing hearing with drug company CEOs earlier this year.

Additionally, late last year, Congress passed and President Trump signed the Patient Right to Know Drug Prices Act into law. This bill was a big win for patients because it eliminated a previous practice called gag clauses, which were restrictions created by insurers and pharmacy middlemen (known as Pharmacy Benefit Managers or PBMs) that banned pharmacies from discussing drug pricing options. For example, if pharmacists knew patients could find a better price on medicines without going through their insurance drug plan, pharmacists could not share that information. We have now banned gag clauses so pharmacists can share information about drug prices that could benefit patients and ultimately reduce out-of-pockets costs.


Senator Chris Coons and I recently re-introduced the bicameral Lessening Impediments from Taxes (LIFT) for Charities Act, which protects churches, charities, and other nonprofit organizations from a provision in the tax law that would tax some employee benefits for the first time. Our bill would repeal a section of the tax code that requires some tax-exempt organizations to pay federal taxes on employee benefits, like parking, meals, or transportation benefits. There is no reason nonprofits should have to hire an accountant to figure the value of their parking lot. CLICK HERE for more information on the LIFT for Charities Act.


There is no question that China has historically manipulated trade, stolen intellectual property and blocked many American goods from the Chinese market. President Trump has actively confronted China on their trade practices and has pushed them to the negotiating table by raising tariffs on Chinese goods. But Oklahoma businesses continue to express their concerns to me about the impact certain Chinese tariffs will have on their ability to hire employees, give back to their communities, and expand their business operations. American importers have paid the US government more than $12 billion in import taxes due to last year’s tariff action on Chinese imports, which has a direct impact on our economy since those costs are passed down to consumers. 

A few weeks ago, I spent two hours at the White House with President Trump and his entire trade and economic team to discuss international trade and how we can open up new long-term trade opportunities while preventing short damage to American workers and consumers during the negotiations. I introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to help provide necessary relief for families and businesses across the US as the Administration continues to negotiate a better trade agreement with China. CLICK HERE to learn more about the Import Tax Relief Act.

USS Tulsa Commissioning

On February 16 it was my great honor to join Oklahomans in San Francisco over the weekend to officially commission the USS Tulsa into the Navy’s LCS fleet, the future of naval vessels. It is a high honor and a testament to the innovative spirit of the people of Tulsa that the Navy selected this world-class vessel to bear the name of Tulsa as she sails to defend our nation. The good people of Tulsa are an example for the young sailors on the USS Tulsa because they have maintained our heartland values of hard work, integrity, and honesty as they forge forward in business, education, and anti-poverty measures. Please join me in wishing the sailors who will crew the USS Tulsa, “Good luck and Godspeed!” CLICK HERE to watch my keynote address at the commissioning ceremony.

Official Visit to Israel, Lebanon, and the UK

In February I took a congressional delegation trip to Israel, Lebanon, and the UK to discuss economic development and the important regional partnerships we have in the Middle East and Europe to boost trade and economic stability. In Israel I was the only US elected official to speak at the first-ever Israeli-Palestinian Economic Forum. The unique gathering included Palestinian and Israeli business leaders and government leaders discussing ways to cooperate together for their communities. I challenged the attendees to plant trees of peace that would allow their children to climb their branches in the coming years. In Lebanon I had an opportunity to meet with senior Lebanese leaders and walk through Syrian refugee camps to meet the Syrian population and work on options for their return and long-term stability in the region. In London I met with Members of Parliament to discuss a future US trade agreement and the status of Brexit. 

Keeping You in the Loop
  • On March 21 President Trump issued an Executive Order to help enhance First Amendment Rights on college campuses. First Freedoms should be protected everywhere in our nation, and colleges and universities are no exception. I also appreciate the Department of Education for recently ensuring faith-based contractors can participate with their own government. CLICK HERE to read more. 
  • In case you missed the release of this year’s Federal Fumbles, CLICK HERE to read it. This is the fourth volume of our guide to federal inefficiency and ways the waste can be solved. There are real solutions to the growing deficit problems, but we have to focus our attention on the problem.  
  • I met this week with Secretary of Homeland Security Nielsen to discuss progress on border security and the rapidly growing problem of illegal immigration. This fiscal year (FY19) more than 100 large caravans have crossed the border between the ports of entry which has caused serious humanitarian problems. So far in 2019 more people have been arrested at the border than all of last year combined.  
  • There is a growing concern—after several states have voted to expand abortion until the day of delivery—that we must protect the life of children who are fully delivered during a abortion, instead of being destroyed in the womb. As most Oklahomans know, I believe life begins at conception and every child should be welcomed into life. When an abortion accidentally induces labor and a fully viable child is delivered, I also believe that the child should be given medical care the same as any other child that has been born. Unfortunately, the Senate was not able to get the 60 votes required to protect the life of fully born children when the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act came to the Senate for a vote on February, 25, 2019.
  • Oklahoma’s electric cooperatives and the Oklahoma Energy Trails Foundation recently announced the selection of 10 linemen to bring first-time access to electricity to the village of Sillab in rural Guatemala along with volunteers from Colorado’s electric cooperatives. Congratulations and thank you to those selected! You make Oklahoma proud by helping turn on the lights for others around the world.
  • I was honored to be the keynote speaker for the annual Second Chance banquet to recognize leaders and organizations around the country who work to help people in prison gain life skills, faith development, family connection, and vocational skills to prepare them for life after prison. Last year, I worked with other members of the Senate to pass the First Step Act to bring reform to how we help prisoners prepare for life outside the walls and give them an opportunity to not repeat a life of crime.
  • In early February I was honored to join Senator Inhofe, Congressman Lucas, and Governor Stitt to attend the delivery ceremony of the first KC-46 to Altus Air Force Base (AFB). Altus AFB is home to the training mission for the KC-46 tanker, and the next generation of aerial refueling, and maintenance on the aircraft will be done at Tinker AFB near Oklahoma City. Please join me in congratulating Altus AFB and the Airmen and women who serve there on this important addition to their mission!


In God We Trust,
James Lankford
United States Senator for Oklahoma

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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