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Tuesday, October 16, 2018
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Stigler Act Passes Committee; Could Help Native American Land Owning Familes

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Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after H.R. 2606, the Stigler Act Amendment of 2017, was passed by the House Natural Resources Committee. This legislation amends the Stigler Act of 1947, which restricts Native American allotted land to only persons of ½ degree of Native American blood.

The Dawes Act of 1887 authorized the federal government to survey tribal lands and divide them into allotted parcels for individual Native Americans. Title to these allotment parcels was set forth in the “Stigler Act of 1947.” The Stigler Act provides that, upon probate, if the heirs and devisees of an original allottee from the Five Tribes (Chickasaw, Choctaw, Seminole, Creek and Cherokee) have passed out of ½ degree Native American blood, the allotment loses its “restricted free” status. Restricted land is not subject to state taxation. Federal law does not dictate a minimum Native American blood degree requirement for any other tribe.

The Stigler Act Amendment of 2017 seeks to amend the original Stigler Act, and remove the ½ degree requirement of Native American blood. In doing so, it would provide the opportunity for heirs and devisees to take title to the land, and allow the parcel to maintain its “restricted” status. This legislation will also create parity in federal law in the treatment of Native American-allotted land by removing minimum blood degree requirement for solely the Five Tribes.

“I am pleased that the Stigler Act was agreed to and passed through the House Natural Resources Committee,” said Cole. “Amending the Stigler Act will allow for past precedent to be current with the realities of Native-owned land. By expanding the blood lineage degree, the amendment will support the preservation of the rights and legacies that Native Americans are entitled to, as well as their inheritance. I look forward to supporting the Stigler Act Amendment of 2017 on the House Floor for passage.”

Senators Lankford, Shaheen, and Tillis Introduce Bill To Stop Transfer of Fighter Aircraft To Turkey

Bill Comes As Turkish President Erdogan Continues To Imprison Dr. Andrew Brunson

WASHINGTON, DC – Senators James Lankford (R-OK), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Thom Tillis (R-NC) today introduced a bill to prevent the transfer of F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft to Turkey. The bill would also block Turkey’s role as a maintenance depot for the aircraft. Under the US-led, multinational Joint Strike Fighter program, Turkey was expected to purchase more than 100 aircraft.

“Senators Shaheen and Tillis have worked diligently with me and others in Congress to address America’s rapidly deteriorating relationship with Turkey,” said Lankford. “I applaud our State Department for their ceaseless work to improve the US-Turkey relationship, but President Erdogan has continued down a path of reckless governance and disregard for the rule of law. Individual freedoms have been increasingly diminished as Erdogan consolidates power for himself, and Turkey’s strategic decisions regrettably fall more and more out of line with, and at times in contrast to, US interests. These factors make the transfer of sensitive F-35 technology and cutting-edge capabilities to Erdogan’s regime increasingly risky. Furthermore, the Turkish government continues to move closer and closer to Russia, as they hold an innocent American pastor, Andrew Brunson, in prison to use him as a pawn in political negotiations. The United States does not reward hostage-taking of American citizens; such action instead will be met with the kind of punitive measures this bill would enact.”

 “Given my steadfast commitment to NATO and the transatlantic alliance, it is with regret that our relationship with Turkey has reached a point where we must consider severing defense and business ties in order to free American hostages held in Turkey,” said Shaheen. “Turkish President Erdogan’s choice to take hostages and imprison innocent Americans, to try to gain leverage over the United States, is egregious and unlawful. Erdogan and his government must abide by the rule of law within his own country and abroad, and release Pastor Andrew Brunson and other Americans unlawfully held in Turkey. There must also be an immediate end to the harassment and detainment of locally-employed staff at the U.S. mission. Until that occurs, I’ll continue to join with Senators Lankford and Tillis to call for punitive action, including blocking the transfer of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.”

 “America is not going to forget about Andrew Brunson and the other Americans who are being wrongfully imprisoned by the Turkish government,” said Tillis. “Turkey has long been a vital NATO ally and America understands the unique national security threats it faces; however, denying the rights of law-abiding Americans undermines the relationship between our two countries. The Erdogan government should understand that Congress will pursue measures to protect the interests of American citizens, including stopping the transfer of F-35 aircraft to Turkey.”

On April 19, Lankford and Shaheen announced their decision to pursue targeted sanctions against Turkish officials in this year’s Fiscal Year 2019 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs spending bill. On April 20, Tillis and Shaheen led a 66 Member letter to the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, demanding the release of Andrew Brunson.

Senator Lankford Statement on US Embassy Opening in Jerusalem

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WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today made the following statement on the US Embassy dedication ceremony and recognition of Jerusalem as Israeli capital on the 70th anniversary of Israel’s founding:

“After more than two decades of bipartisan declarations from Congress, the US Embassy has been relocated to Jerusalem, the capital of the State of Israel. While we must continue working to secure a lasting peace agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians, today’s embassy move helps lay a better foundation for the peace process by signaling to the world that United States foreign policy will not be deterred by threats of violence and terrorism. Furthermore, as I said when the move was first announced in December, nothing about the relocation of our embassy to Jerusalem will impact America’s commitment to honor any solution which brings about peace resulting from direct talks between the Israelis and Palestinians. I pray that God would continue to bless the people of Israel and all people who strive to build harmony in the Middle East, as we celebrate today’s historic occasion.”

In 1995, Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 with broad bipartisan support in the Senate by a 93-5 vote and in the House by a 374–37 vote. This law states that it is US policy that Jerusalem should remain an undivided city, that Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of Israel, and that the US Embassy in Israel should be located in Jerusalem. The Foreign Relations Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2003, which also passed with bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate, urged the President to immediately begin relocating the Embassy to Jerusalem pursuant to the 1995 law. Most recently, on June 5 of 2017, the Senate passed by a vote of 90-0 a resolution reaffirming the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 and called upon the President to abide by its provisions.

Lankford visited Israel in March and August of 2017 to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other diplomats.

Cole Mourns the Passing of Senator John McCain

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Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement on the passing of Senator John McCain.

“John McCain was a patriot, a genuine war hero, a dedicated public servant in and out of uniform and an American original,” said Cole. “While Senator McCain and I did not always agree, I never doubted his personal and political integrity and his deep love for America and the American people.”

“I was proud to work with Senator McCain on many important matters, including defense and Native American issues. His knowledge of and commitment to Native American people and issues surpassed that of almost every other member of the Senate.”

“It was an honor for me to speak at the 2008 Republican Convention in support of Senator McCain’s presidential candidacy,” continued Cole. “He was a happy warrior waging a hard campaign in a difficult year. He lost to Barack Obama, of course, but he did so with class and grace.”

“I will always remember how in the midst of that hard fought campaign Senator McCain put aside partisanship to work across the aisle and help pass the legislation that prevented ‘the Great Recession’ from becoming the second ‘Great Depression.’ It was an act of bipartisanship and statesmanship in the midst of a presidential campaign that has seldom been matched in American history.”

“John McCain was a lion of the Senate and a giant in contemporary American politics. America will miss his leadership, his bipartisanship, his patriotism and his sheer decency. My thoughts and prayers are with his loving family and his many friends and admirers at this difficult time.”

Cole Statement on the Passage of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018

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Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after the passage of H.R. 4, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018. The bill was passed in the House by a vote of 393-13 with Cole’s support.

The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 reauthorizes the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) through 2023.

“The Federal Aviation Administration plays a critical role in the safety and transparency of our air travel, and I am pleased that it was passed today with broad support,” said Cole. “The FAA also has a significant impact on Oklahoma’s economy and workforce as one of the largest employers in the state.”

“Furthermore, I am pleased that the proposal to privatize Air Traffic Control (ATC) was not included in the final bill. A privatized ATC would be unfair and would endanger the transparency and standards of the aviation industry. Privatization would also pose harm to the federal workforce, especially to facilities like the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center in Oklahoma, which employs 6,200 federal workers.”

“Congress has always provided key oversight of the FAA and ATC to keep our skies safe and efficient. Because of its balanced approach to regulation and operational standards, the FAA has made our skies the safest and most reliable airspace in the world.”

Senator Lankford Subcommittee Approves FY2019 Financial Services & General Government Appropriations Bill

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WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today chaired the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government and advanced a $23.688 billion funding measure that prioritizes national programs to combat terrorism financing, spur small business growth, maintain a fair and efficient judicial system, and target heroin and prescription drug abuse.

 

“This is a responsible bill that boosts our national economy, financial security, and government accountability, and I urge the Senate to pass it without delay,” Lankford “I’m pleased that we are moving forward on the appropriations process. Orderly and transparent appropriations is a core responsibility of Congress, and a place where significant government reforms can be implemented.”

 

The FY2019 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act provides $16 million above the FY2018 enacted level to fund the US Treasury Department, the Judiciary, Small Business Administration, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), and several other independent agencies.

 

The measure includes targeted funding increases for the Treasury Department to combat money laundering and terrorism financing; for the SEC and CFTC to oversee our nation’s securities, swaps, and futures markets; for the Federal courts to support the administration of justice; and for the General Services Administration’s (GSA) Federal Buildings Fund. The bill will be considered by the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday.

 

Bill Highlights:

 

Treasury Departmental Offices – $208.751 million for Departmental Offices, an increase of $8 million above the FY2018 enacted level. Additional funds will allow the Department to manage a growing caseload associated with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, invest in information technology improvements, and hire additional staff to conduct economic analysis of tax regulatory actions.

 

Treasury Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence (TFI) – $159 million for TFI, which combats terrorism financing and administers economic and trade sanctions through its Office of Foreign Assets Control. The FY2019 amount is $17.2 million above the enacted level and is equal to the President’s budget request.

 

Internal Revenue Service (IRS) – $11.263 billion for the IRS. Of this amount, $77 million is dedicated to implementation of tax reform.

 

In addition, to ensure accountability and transparency, the bill includes:

  • A prohibition on funds for bonuses or to rehire former employees unless employee conduct and tax compliance is given consideration;
  • A prohibition on funds for the IRS to target groups for regulatory scrutiny based on their ideological beliefs;
  • A prohibition on funds for the IRS to target individuals for exercising their First Amendment rights;
  • A prohibition on funds for the production of inappropriate videos and conferences.

 

Executive Office of the President (EOP) – $728 million for EOP, which is $2.6 million above the FY2018 enacted level.  The bill maintains the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) and Drug-Free Communities (DFC) programs within the Office of National Drug Control Policy.  The bill provides $280 million for the HIDTA program to combat heroin and prescription opioid abuse and $99 million for the DFC program.

 

Judiciary – $7.251 billion in discretionary funding for the federal judiciary, which is $140 million above the FY2018 enacted level.  This will provide sufficient funding for federal court activities, including timely and efficient processing of federal cases, court security, and defender services.

 

Small Business Administration (SBA) – $699.3 million for the SBA to provide assistance to small businesses, expand the economy, and increase job growth for unemployed and underemployed Americans.  The bill fully funds business loans at $159.2 million.  The bill also funds several valuable programs, including $130 million for Small Business Development Centers, $31 million for microloan technical assistance, $12.3 million for veteran’s outreach programs, and $11.5 million for SCORE, formerly the Service Corps of Retired Executives.

 

General Services Administration (GSA) – The bill allows GSA to spend $9.63 billion out of the Federal Buildings Fund.  This level will provide funding for rent payments for privately-owned office space leased by the government, and operations and maintenance costs for buildings owned by federal government agencies across the nation. Of this amount, the bill provides $1.08 billion for construction, and the measure fully funds the requested levels for Major Repairs and Alterations ($424.7 million) and Basic Repairs ($373.6 million) to continue addressing the backlog of repairs and renovations needs across the federal government.

 

Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) – $1.695 billion for the SEC, which is equal to the FY2018 budget request and includes $37 million for the potential relocation of the SEC’s New York Regional Office.  The bill provides targeted funding for economic analysis within the Division of Economic and Risk Analysis.

 

Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) – $281.5 million for the CFTC, which is equal to the FY2019 budget request. The bill includes increased funding to boost the CFTC’s analytical expertise, cybersecurity capabilities, and financial technology to maximize the Commission’s ability to oversee the nation’s swaps, futures, and options markets.

 

Federal Trade Commission (FTC) – $309.7 million for the FTC, which is equal to the FY2019 budget request.

 

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) – $333.1 million for the FCC, which is equal to the FY2019 budget request.

 

Other Oversight, Accountability, and Noteworthy Provisions:

  • A prohibition on funds for an increase in pay for the Vice President and other senior political appointees;
  • A prohibition on funding for grants or contracts to tax cheats and companies with felony criminal convictions;
  • A requirement that all departments and agencies link contracts that provide award fees to successful acquisition outcomes, and prohibit the use of funds to pay for award or incentive fees for contractors with below satisfactory performance; and
  • A pay increase for civilian federal employees of 1.9 percent in calendar year 2019, equal to the 2018 increase.
  • A prohibition against the use of funds to paint portraits of federal employees, including the President, Vice President, Cabinet Members and Members of Congress;
  • A requirement that agency inspectors general have timely access to agency documents and records;

Putting More Pressure on North Korea

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After the recent closing of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, its neighbor, North Korea, continues to pose one of the most persistent U.S. foreign policy challenges which has spanned the past four U.S. administrations. It is the only country to have tested nuclear weapons this century and remains the greatest and most immediate threat in the Indo-Asia-Pacific area. The hope that North Korea will resume and continue talks with South Korea after the Olympics remains a question. Whatever the outcome, confronting the North Korean threat is critical, and the U.S. must be guided by a strong sense of resolve.

While North Korea’s weapons program has been the main focus of concern, illicit activities such as narcotics trafficking, counterfeiting, and human rights violations still abound. In a recent round of new sanctions, the Trump Administration announced that it will target the illicit shipping practices of at least 56 shipping and trading companies (including vessels) that have been complicit in supporting the development of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal. In addition to already imposed economic sanctions, these maritime sanctions are some of the strongest put in place to hinder North Korea’s ability to work globally and expand its nuclear capability. Robust coordination between our allies and other countries in the region is essential to applying pressure to North Korea, and China plays a key role as well.

China has provided food, crude oil, and other essential lifelines to North Korea as its largest trading partner; however, North Korean exports to China have declined by nearly 30% in 2017. China still continues to control trade between the two countries as a way to put pressure on the Kim regime and prevent “chaos and war.” If open conflict was to occur, there would be catastrophic and significant refugee flow over the borders from the Korean peninsula into China, which would have destabilizing effects throughout the region. Some Chinese leaders see strategic value in preserving North Korea as a “buffer” between China and South Korea. For this reason, China has not been a reliable partner in exerting and implementing U.N. sanctions, although it remains essential to diplomatic engagement and economic sanctions. The United States continues to emphasize cooperation with Japan and South Korea, and U.S. diplomats continue to rally the international community to loudly condemn North Korea’s unacceptable behavior. With U.S. and international sanctions, China’s ability and willingness to pressure North Korea could not be more critical.

North Korea’s emphasis on strategic and military capabilities comes at the expense of its own people, who continue to struggle with a lifeless economy and international isolation. Reports by the U.S. government and private organizations portray extreme human rights abuses by the North Korean government over many years. These reports describe a system of prison camps that house approximately 100,000 political prisoners. However, one hopeful note is that North Korea appears to be losing its ability to control information coming into North Korea from the outside world. Defectors have revealed that growing numbers of North Koreans are wary of government propaganda and have ways to access outside sources of news.

The ongoing progress of North Korea’s nuclear and missile program, provocative and destabilizing behavior, and a burgeoning biological weapons program are all reasons why engagement and the pressure of sanctions are essential. Peace will not be achievable without the complete cooperation and elimination of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal and the end of its radical regime.

The Mission for Better Care for Our Veterans

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Sen Lankford’s Statement on North Korea

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WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) made the following statement on today’s South Korean announcement regarding the possibility of North Korea denuclearization:

“The US wants a world safe for all families, including the people of North and South Korea. Currently the people of North Korea live under the oppressive reign of a dictator that has been determined to threaten the world with a nuclear weapon. I welcome any conversations that could lead to a path to denuclearization, but I am also acutely aware that North Korea has deceived the international community about its nuclear program in the past. We should maintain sanctions and tenaciously verify any ‘promise,’ but remain open to potential paths to denuclearization.”

Senator Lankford visited South Korea and the Korean Demilitarized Zone last winter. Lankford serves on the Senate Intelligence Committee and Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Funding Strategic Readiness

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With global threats from our near competitors and great-state adversaries, improving our military’s readiness could not come at a more critical time.  Congress is committed to funding improved maintenance, readiness, and personnel accounts while providing key oversight on near and long-term procurement programs to build a modern force.  After years of budgetary dysfunction, we must recapitalize our military and ensure it remains a superior and effective fighting force across all domains anywhere in the world.

This year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2019 was passed last week by the House by a vote of 351-66, and will be the 57th consecutive year the legislation is signed by the President. It includes $708.1 billion in funding and adds to the end strength and fighting capabilities for all the services. The size of the Air Force will increase by 4,700 military personnel to include active duty, Guard and Reserve Airmen. The Army active force will increase by 4,000 soldiers to 487,000 troops. To compliment growth, increased funds will also be directed toward increased training and readiness as the military focuses on increased tensions with Iran, changing dynamics on the Korean Peninsula and Chinese encroachment in the South China Sea.

Congress supports additional funding above the President’s request to replace equipment that is too broken or too expensive to repair.  Additionally, funding is included to procure of new aircraft, ships and to invest in rebuilding key infrastructure. The bill also supports reducing the back-log of aircraft maintenance and improves sustainment and logistics, which is a key mission at Tinker Air Force Base. Furthermore, the legislation provides for Long-Range Precision Fires and Air and Missile Defense efforts, which incidentally are Future Command Cross-Functional Teams Headquarters that will be located at Fort Sill.

This year’s NDAA also provides for investments in new technology and includes accelerated funding for Artificial Intelligence, machine learning programs, as well as directed energy, and hypersonics programs.

Most importantly, the legislation provides for our troops and their families. The bill fully funds a 2.6% pay raise for our troops which is the highest increase in nine years.  It also extends special pay and bonuses for Servicemembers in high-demand fields.

This bipartisan bill includes threat-specific initiatives designed to maximize defense resources and keep America safe. It builds on the National Defense Strategy and provides the framework to restore American power in the new era of competition. I am proud to support this bill each year, and I look forward to its enactment into law.

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