Lankford Letter by Sen. James Lankford
Mike Seals - June 27, 2021 11:37 pm
Dear Oklahoma friends and neighbors:
As we approach this year’s Independence Day celebrations, we’re reminded what our Founding Fathers wrote in the Declaration of Independence. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
This is also a moment for each of us to remember the price so many have paid for our freedom, independence, and our way of life. We should remember the words of Thomas Paine in 1776, “What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly.”
I will continue to strive toward a more perfect Union, and I am confident we can maintain our nation’s values and keep working together toward freedom here and for oppressed peoples abroad.
As you enjoy time with family and friends and some fireworks, I hope you will join me in praying for our nation, our people, and our leaders that we may continue to do the work to pursue our Founders’ lofty and worthy goals for this and future generations of free Americans.
CLICK HERE to watch my speech on the Senate floor to call on our nation to continue to build on our foundation of freedom.
UPDATE: S.1, For the People Act
The Senate rejected Senate Bill 1, the For the People Act. I strongly opposed the bill because although it had a feel-good name, it actually makes it easier to cheat in any election and impossible to verify final election results. This was not a voting rights bill. It was a radical shift in every state’s voting system, even if there have been no voting issues in that state.
CLICK HERE to read more on my vote to oppose this bill.
If you’re unfamiliar with the specifics of the bill, S.1:
- Requires taxpayers to fund all campaigns by creating a 6:1 taxpayer-funded match, which requires Americans to pay for the majority of all political races for all parties, even for candidates they do not support.
- Prohibits voter ID laws in every state.
- Allows same-day registration on Election Day with no voter ID, no address verification, and no way to verify a person has not already voted.
- Requires the acceptance of mail-in ballots up to 10 days after Election Day if postmarked by Election Day and sets no ID requirements to obtain a mail-in absentee ballot.
- Legalizes ballot harvesting, which would allow anyone to return any ballot, without limitations on how many ballots a person can mail in or put into a drop box. Currently the Postman or you can personally carry your ballot. This would open up ballot-harvesting to anyone, which also opens us up to the potential for fraud and intimidation because people could come to your house, “help” you fill out your ballot, and turn it in for you.
- Makes the currently nonpartisan Federal Election Commission follow the party of the sitting president, allowing any president to use the Election Commission for their benefit.
- Allows automatic voter registration based on other government benefits, which could potentially register almost every person who is not legally present in the country.
- Violates privacy rights by requiring nonprofits that spend more than $10,000 in an election reporting cycle to disclose donors who give $10,000 or more during an election cycle and the organization must be identified. If the organization is a corporation, it must disclose its owners by name and address, which invites people who oppose their stance to intimidate people into not giving.
Oklahoma does a good job of safe and secure elections. Oklahoma’s election results are usually available in the early evening hours of Election Day—not days or weeks later, as S.1 would require. We can also easily recount when needed. We require verified identification to vote or a notarized signature for absentee ballots.
Oklahoma continues to improve our already nationally recognized safe and secure election processes, including adding more in-person, early voting days to our regular days for elections. We should continue to lead the nation in demonstrating that we can make it easy for Oklahomans to vote, hard to cheat, and easy to verify any election. I encourage every person to register to vote, learn the issues, and then vote.
CLICK HERE to read my recent column on why I opposed S.1 and why I oppose any federal takeover of our elections.
UPDATE: Border Security
The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee recently held a hearing on border management. My questions focused on improving federal law enforcement operations at our ports of entry, ensuring we can continue to recruit quality agents at Customs and Border Protection, stop the flow of drugs across our border, and improve technology at ports of entry to protect national security but keep people and goods moving efficiently. I traveled to the Arizona border earlier this year to see first-hand the unfinished border wall system on the southern border that was halted by the Biden Administration. I was also the first to expose the crisis at the border through Facebook so Oklahomans could see firsthand the crisis at the southern border in Texas. And today, VP Harris is making her first trip to the border as we continue to have record-high numbers of illegal encounters at the border and low deportations by ICE. The real crisis is in the Rio Grande Valley, which is 790 miles from El Paso. For months, I have been sounding the alarm with my Senate Republican colleagues that this Administration’s handling of the border crisis needs immediate attention.
CLICK HERE to learn more about my opposition to the Biden Administration halting border fence funding.
I was extremely disappointed in the results of a Government Accountability Office (GAO) review of President Biden’s executive action to withhold funding to complete construction of the fencing system at the US southern border. While GAO found a technicality to clear President Biden, the fact still remains that President Biden has allowed a record-high number of illegal border crossers to enter the country. In fact, in one month this year, ICE only deported 3,000 individuals despite thousands of illegal individuals—some of them criminals and sex offenders—already in our nation that need to be deported.
To make matters worse, this week President Biden fired the chief of the US Border Patrol after 29 years of service to our nation.
CLICK HERE to read more about my concerns with GAO’s review.
UPDATE: Pro-life work and calling moms “moms”
Just when I think Washington, DC, can’t possibly come up with wilder, more politically correct terms for simple ideas, I give you: the Department of Health and Human Services.
On the Friday before Memorial Day, President Biden quietly dropped his massive and costly budget request for fiscal year 2022. President Biden’s budget is larger than any budget proposed by any president ever. The epic deficit overspending is almost $2 trillion, not including everything else this Administration has spent this year already. But the giant price tag isn’t the only thing that caught my attention.
I pressed Department of Health and Human Services Secretary, Xavier Becerra, about a term I’ve never seen before. The term in the President’s budget used to describe a mom is not “mom,” it’s a “birthing person.” When I asked Secretary Becerra what that means, he responded that the term “describes itself” and “describes the function.” What is wrong with the word “mom” or “mother”?
This is yet another attempt to minimalize families and the lives of the unborn by the most pro-abortion Administration we’ve ever seen. I will continue to stand up against this Administration’s pro-abortion agenda and prevent them from quietly trying to bring “woke” political correctness to motherhood.
To all the moms reading this: thank you. Our team will never call you by your “function.” We will always respect your gifts, your affection for your kids, and your example as a mom.
CLICK HERE to watch my Q&A with Secretary Becerra about the use of the term “birthing person” instead of “mom.”
CLICK HERE to watch my remarks on the Senate floor about my surprise at this attempt by the Biden Administration to push political correctness about the word “mom.”
Keeping You in the Loop
- Rural Health Care – After months of calls, emails, and letters from my office, it was great news for me to call Harmon Memorial Hospital to tell them that they received an extension to continue to serve the community as a Critical Access Hospital. Without this designation, the city of Hollis and Harmon County would be dangerously far from emergency health services and nearly 100 people would lose their jobs. CLICK HERE to read more on this great news for southwest Oklahoma.
- Religious liberty – Last week, in the case before the Supreme Court, Fulton V. City of Philadelphia, the Court, in a vote of 9-0, held that Philadelphia was wrong to require Catholic Social Services to shed their faith in order to serve children and families and reaffirmed that no one should be discriminated against or compelled by the government to violate their sincerely held religious beliefs. Living their faith under the First Amendment does not mean they are working against individuals, and the Court’s unanimous decision helps uphold our First Amendment right. CLICK HERE to read more about this important victory for religious liberty.
- IRS Leaks – This month, the news outlet ProPublica published a story that appears to contain leaked personal IRS tax information. It is against the law to release tax documents and against the law to publish them. But somehow—mysteriously—tax documents were released, which reminds me of a few years ago when the IRS was weaponized for political purposes and former IRS official Lois Lerner shut down conservative organizations from gaining nonprofit status while left-leaning nonprofits were expedited. CLICK HERE to read more about my push to get to the bottom of this recent data breach at IRS for political purposes.
- Veteran Health Care – If you or someone you love is a veteran, you know that being able to submit electronic forms and documentation is not consistent across the health care system for veterans. I sent a letter to the Director of the Defense Health Agency, Lieutenant General Ronald Place, after calls to my office by Oklahoma veterans shared that TRICARE rules do not allow veterans to submit electronic forms and documentation, particularly for Express Scripts, despite being able to submit them electronically in other areas of health care. I look forward to LTG Place’s response. I am working to make health care access easier for our veterans. CLICK HERE to read more about my work to get this access to e-forms for Oklahoma veterans.
- Second Amendment – I recently joined Idaho Senator Mike Crapo to introduce the Hearing Protection Act (HPA), which reclassifies firearm sound suppressors to regulate them like a regular firearm. I firmly support the Second Amendment’s guarantee of the right to bear arms for all law-abiding citizens. We should not burden law-abiding gun owners by overregulating the purchase of sound suppressors for firearms. CLICK HERE to read more about the simple changes this bill would make in law. I also strongly oppose David Chipman for the leadership of ATF, and I oppose the new regulations the Biden White House is proposing on legal pistol braces for the disability community or any other legal gun owner.
- China – The Senate took up a bill this month that was intended to address US competitiveness with China, whose communist government remains the greatest economic and security threat we and our allies face. But the “China bill” was not focused, strategic, or affordable, so I did not support it. The bill was supposed to limit China’s rising influence around the world but would require borrowing money from China before we can work to limit China. We should have a serious and intentional debate on trade, national security, energy, supply chains, environmental damage, and human rights in China, instead of this random collection of policy ideas. CLICK HERE to learn more about my views on the bill.
- Antisemitism – Antisemitism remains a significant threat to our Jewish friends and neighbors. Nevada Senator Jacky Rosen and I recently took action against antisemitism by re-launching our Task Force to Combat Antisemitism. We cannot allow antisemitism to continue to escalate, as we’ve seen in recent months and years both here and abroad. I hope to welcome even more of our colleagues into the Task Force, which already boasts an equally bipartisan membership of more than 54 in the Senate, to call out instances of antisemitism where we see them and call for action from our leaders and other world leaders. CLICK HERE to learn more about the Task Force.
- Pipeline Security – The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee took a look at the recent cyber ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline. My questions to Colonial Pipeline’s President and CEO focused on the cyber-security and physical security measures in place before the attack. The spike in gas prices that came after this one pipeline went down shows the need to have more redundant pipeline access to move energy products through our nation, despite the Biden Administration’s recent halting of the Keystone Pipeline from Canada and decision not to push back on the Russian Nord Stream 2 Pipeline. I have an issue with the US supporting a Russian pipeline to Germany but not a pipeline from Canada to the US. CLICK HERE to learn more about the cyber-attack on the Colonial Pipeline and to read more about my work to call out the Biden Administration’s assault on essential energy in our nation.
- Retirement Savings – I recently introduced the Enhancing Emergency and Retirement Savings Act because I’ve heard from Oklahomans who experience unexpected emergencies and need flexibility to quickly access their own retirement money without a penalty. I’ve also heard from Oklahoma employers who offer retirement plans and have employees who don’t participate because they fear they don’t have enough money to save for retirement and build up their savings. This bill provides Americans the flexibility to save for retirement now, knowing they have access to some of their money for an emergency, and can pay that money back into their retirement plan. CLICK HERE to learn more about the bill.
- Podcast – Be sure to subscribe to my podcast, The Breakdown with James Lankford, to get more details on the big issues in Washington, DC, so you can be the smartest person at the water cooler or at your Fourth of July get-together. You can subscribe to The Breakdown with James Lankford on SoundCloud, iTunes, and Spotify.
In God We Trust,
United States Senator for Oklahoma