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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.”

The Need To Reform The Drivers Of Our Debt

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There is no question Congress must put our fiscal house in order. The debate surrounding spending cuts and increases, fundamental budgetary reform, and raising revenue will only intensify in the face of an exploding debt.

Each February, the President submits a budget to Congress outlining spending proposals for the upcoming fiscal year. The President has just submitted the budget for fiscal year 2019 to Congress and the document includes some shared goals with the Administration, such as fortifying our borders, investing in infrastructure and combating the opioid epidemic just to name a few. Republicans have also supported the President’s goal for increased defense spending and improving our national security. The budget caps agreement recently passed by Congress allows for $700 billion and $716 billion respectively for defense in the next two years. This provides the necessary funding to restore readiness and improve war-fighting capabilities. President Trump’s recently submitted budget advocates for $686 billion for the Department of Defense, which is in line with the recently agreed-upon budget deal.

However, in light of our country’s mandatory spending and massive interest payments on the debt, I do have concerns long-standing on the budget. The White House budget proposal, sent to Congress last Monday, is projected to have $3.1 trillion in outlays in mandatory spending, including interest, out of the $4.4 trillion budget for fiscal year 2019. The Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney says erasing the budget shortfall in a decade isn’t realistic, and our national debt continues to grow, eating into other budget areas.

We can all agree that we should make necessary cuts to programs that contribute to wasteful spending, but the only solution is to recognize and address the real drivers of our debt – major entitlement spending. Without reforms, areas like the Social Security Trust Fund will be depleted by 2034 according to the latest Social Security Trustees’ Report.

My colleague Congressman John Delaney of Maryland and I have introduced bipartisan legislation to create a national, bi-partisan commission composed of 13 members from both the Executive and Legislative branches with the goal to reform Social Security. The commission’s purpose would be to develop solutions that could achieve 75-year solvency within 1 year of enactment and force Congress to consider it under expedited procedures. Appointed by leaders in both parties, any recommendation by the commission must reach a 9 out of 13 vote threshold. The, Congress would vote up or down, without amendment the commission’s recommendations. Every year that we delay addressing the issue, the solutions become more expensive and more painful, and continue to put our children and grandchildren even deeper in debt.

Last week, the House Budget Committee held a hearing to discuss the President’s budget with Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney. In his testimony, Director Mulvaney stated that the federal budget was just a ‘messaging tool.’ Indeed, the President’s budget requests have some good intentions, but Congress will have the final say with its own budget release in the coming months. It is in our hands to take the first step and finally do something about spending reforms and tackle the debate on debt. The long-term sustainability of mandatory spending programs like Social Security and Medicare is in danger if we do not make necessary reforms. Furthermore, it is imperative that any budget moving forward addresses the realities of mandatory spending and balances itself in the long term.

Cole Applauds Passage of 2018 Farm Bill

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Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after the House passed H.R. 2, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act, also known as the 2018 Farm Bill, with Cole’s support.

“Protecting our farmers and ranchers is essential to the agriculture community and our nation’s economy,” said Cole. “To maintain healthy crops and produce, farmers and ranchers need protection and stability. This year’s farm bill provides those securities.”

“I am pleased that this year’s farm bill includes provisions to preserve and strengthen crop insurance, which is crucial to protecting Oklahoma’s farmers and their harvests. Additionally, the Farm Bill will continue to maintain the Conservation Reserve Program, which promotes soil conservation and has been beneficial to Oklahoma’s farmers for decades.”

“Farmers and ranchers are the foundation for the vitality of our nation. I’d like to thank House Leadership and Chairman Conaway for bringing forward this comprehensive legislation that will preserve and protect our nation’s farmers and ranchers. I look forward to its passage in the Senate and enactment into law.”

Senator Lankford Selected to Serve on Senate Finance Committee

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WASHINGTON, DC – In an announcement by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today was selected to join the Senate Finance Committee for the 116th Congress. He will retain his current assignments to the Senate Committee on Appropriations, the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, and the Committee on Indian Affairs.  

“It is an honor to be selected to serve on the esteemed Senate Finance Committee,” said Lankford. “This Committee is front and center on tax policy, healthcare, and trade, all of which are some of the top priorities for Oklahomans. As the new Congress convenes, we must create commonsense solutions that allow the American people to live their lives without fear of unnecessary government intervention. I look forward to adding Oklahoma’s voice to these important issues in the days ahead.”

Lankford has been a leading voice on a number of issues that fall under the jurisdiction of the Finance Committee, including international trade, for which he secured one of the only Senate amendments on trade policyhealthcare; and solvency of federal support programs like Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). He most recently introduced the Lessening Impediments from Taxes (LIFT) for Charities Act, which would repeal a new section of the tax code that requires some tax-exempt organizations, like churches, to pay federal taxes on employee benefits, like parking, meals, or transportation.

The Committee on Finance was established as a standing committee of the Senate in 1816 and is one of the oldest and most powerful committees in the Senate. It has the largest jurisdiction among both the House and Senate and oversees more than 50 percent of the federal budget. Its primary areas of jurisdiction include taxation and other revenue measures; bonded debt of the United States; customs; reciprocal trade agreements; tariffs; general revenue sharing; Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, TANF, and other Health and Human Services programs financed by a specific tax or trust fund; and social security.

Senator Lankford Urges Trump Administration To Resolve Trade Deals Soon, Warns Against Retaliatory Trade Action

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WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today delivered a floor speech on free and fair trade and the importance that international trade plays in supporting Oklahoma jobs. Lankford also reiterated the urgency needed for trade negotiations, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the US-Korea (KORUS) deal, to conclude expeditiously to provide stability to American workers and businesses.

 

During the speech, Lankford gave several examples regarding how free trade benefits Oklahoma farmers, manufacturers, and the oil and gas industry. While applauding President Trump’s willingness to confront China’s unfair trade practices, Lankford also cautioned the Administration about tariff and trade policies which would result in harmful retaliatory trade measures against the US economy.

Watch the video Here https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=3&v=rDQiv-EBex8

Excerpts:

 

(:06-1:04) Let me do a quick history lesson with this body. 1773, as colonies, we were getting more and more frustrated with King George, and we had a lot of issues that we had to raise with him, like a lot of taxes, things that were happening in the judiciary, things that were arbitrary that were coming down. Then it boiled to a head. In December of 1773, a group of American colonists went out to Boston infuriated with the tariff policy over tea. The British East India company had special access that no one else had. They had no taxes and everyone else had a tax – a tariff. And it pushed out all of the other companies except for the British East India company. And a group of American colonists went out to one of the ships, grabbed all the tea in the harbor, threw it overboard, creating the legendary Boston Tea Party.

 

(1:07-2:35) It was an argument about tariffs. It was an argument about international trade. It was an argument about can American companies trade fairly? And we still talk about it today. It’s interesting to note that in our letter that Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1776, which we now call the Declaration of Independence, in the long list of grievances that we wrote out to King George, we included in it this line, “cutting off our trade with all parts of the world” as one of our big grievances. By the way, that grievance happened to be in between the British government allowing British soldiers to murder inhabitants in America and doing our taxes without consent. Right in between those was cutting off our international trade. We’ve been free traders as a nation since before we were even a nation, and we’ve been passionate about keeping it fair but keeping it free and keeping it open. Free trade is a big issue for us, and for some reason, it has become this big, national conversation again. Should we have free trade and fair trade? Should we continue to engage? What does it mean to have a deficit in our trade? Does it have to be equal with every country that they buy as much from us that we buy from them? Suddenly this has become a brand-new dialogue again.

 

(3:34-4:51) So let me walk through just a practical view of what it looks like. Charlie and Mary Swanson, they’re Oklahomans. They’re third-generation farmers and ranchers who live in Roosevelt, Oklahoma, a population of a whopping 241 in Roosevelt, by the way, if you want to know, but the agricultural products that they produce help feed the world. They raise wheat, cotton, cattle, and milo. Every year their crops are coming in and they use John Deere equipment. We look at that John Deere tractor and its beautiful green and we think that’s a great American company. Except for part of that equipment also comes in their tractor in its original form from Mexico. Part comes from India. Parts come from Germany and most of it is from the United States. They employ about 60,000 people in the United States. It is a great American company, John Deere is, but their calves are made in Germany, their hydraulic cylinders are made in Mexico. The castings are from Iowa, but the guidance products are from California. Some of the transmission electronic parts they actually come from India. Other parts are from Missouri. But we see that as a great American tractor.

 

(11:20-13:11) We had unfair trade in 1773 that we protested in the Boston Harbor. We still want fair trade agreements right now. But those trade agreements need to be resolved as fast as possible. Farmers and ranchers in Oklahoma cannot wait a year to find out what’s going to happen in our trade policy. Some of them are on the edge of the knife right now on bankruptcy. They can’t get anything on the future’s market to try to figure out what’s happening in the now to be able to do the basic investment they need to do for this year’s crop. Predictability helps you just like fair and free trade does. So while I understand full well the administration is engaging in trade negotiations around the world, I encourage them to move from talking about these trade agreements to settling them. Getting them resolved with Mexico and Canada, getting the best deal that we can have, resetting this agreement with NAFTA for another generation, as it’s being reset right now, to prepare us for the future. Let’s get that resolved. We need to get resolved our trade agreement with Korea, locking that one in and then finishing out all the area around Asia as well. Twelve of those nations have already resolved a trade agreement that they’re into putting us behind. Those nations are forming contracts now that we need to engage in as soon as we possibly can. There are big issues were China in trade. They have not been fair in all of their trade agreements. We need to resolve our trade agreements with China. And I’m pleased that this administration is leaning in to resolve a long-term issue with China trade. It is about time someone does it. But we also need to get it resolved. We don’t need retaliatory tariffs moving across every industry in our nation destabilizing what we’re doing in the economy. Let’s get these issue resolved. 

Senator Lankford, Intel Committee Unveil Recommendations To Secure Election Infrastructure

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WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today participated in a Senate Intelligence Committee press conference to unveil Committee recommendations to secure America’s election infrastructure.

“It is vitally important that we secure our elections systems in America,” said Lankford. “This isn’t just about Russia – they were the ones to pursue these efforts in 2016, but it is just as likely that another state actor like North Korea or Iran or a hacktivist group will attempt these same things in 2018, 2020, and beyond. We must secure our infrastructure so that no nation-state or other actor has the ability to sow distrust or uncertainty to the very foundations of our democracy.”

In December, Lankford introduced the Secure Elections Act, a bipartisan bill that mirrors many of the Committee recommendations to strengthen election cybersecurity in America and protect against foreign interference in future elections. The original co-sponsors of the Secure Elections Act are Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

During the 2016 election, intelligence reports have established that Russia hacked presidential campaign accounts, launched cyber-attacks against at least 21 state election systems, and attacked a US voting systems software company. While there is no evidence that a single vote outcome was tampered with, this dangerous precedent should be a wake-up call going into the 2018 election cycle. To protect against these threats, the bipartisan Secure Elections Act seeks to fix the existing problems and aims to bolster election systems against future threats while protecting states’ primacy in running elections.

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;

Lankford Commemorates Black History Month

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WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today praised the important work in the US Senate to honor Black History Month and to continue to address improving race relations in the US. This week, Lankford cosponsored a Senate resolution to formally commemorate Black History Month. Lankford also joined Senators Kamala Harris (D-CA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Tim Scott (R-SC) to finally address the crime of lynching through theJustice for Victims of Lynching Act.

“In February, our nation pauses to reflect on the achievements of so many black Americans who have courageously, inspiringly, and often in the face of great adversity paved the future for our nation and helped heal the wounds of racism we still sadly face,” said Lankford. “As Americans, I believe we can and should highlight members of our communities who lead and serve others. In Oklahoma, leaders in the black community from businessmen and women to government leaders to teachers help improve our communities and work to inspire young Americans.

“Our work is ongoing even today to address the stain of racism on our nation’s history. Most of the issues associated with racism in our nation cannot be solved by legislation; they are heart issues. However, there are some areas in which government can and should step forward and provide a solution. I cosponsored the Justice for Victims of Lynching Act because I believe we should once and for all condemn and criminalize lynching as ‘a pernicious and pervasive tool’ that ‘succeeded slavery as the ultimate expression of racism in the United States.’ This bill seeks to right a wrong and provide a tool that DOJ needs to fully prosecute this type of crime. I am grateful for the work of Senators Scott, Harris, and Booker to bring this bill to the floor.”

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.”

Senator Lankford, Senator Inhofe, and Congressman Cole Commemorate 150th Anniversary of Fort Sill

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WASHINGTON, DC – Senators James Lankford (R-OK), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), and Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK) recognized the 150th anniversary of Fort Sill. Lankford and Inhofe introduced S. Res. 11 today to recognize Fort Sill’s milestone. Cole introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

“I am very proud of Fort Sill’s 150 years of important work to further our military’s mission and also train and equip thousands of our soldiers and Marines,” said Lankford. “Fort Sill and the Fires Center of Excellence are pivotal to our military and the surrounding communities, including and especially Lawton. I am grateful for our many Oklahoma communities who continue to serve the families who serve our nation. I would like to personally thank Fort Sill’s leadership for continuing to provide my office with important updates on activities at Fort Sill and for remaining engaged with me and my staff to help answer any questions and work through specific military legislative issues. I offer my congratulations and thanks to everyone at Fort Sill on this important milestone.” 

“I am proud to recognize Fort Sill as they celebrate their 150th anniversary,” said Inhofe. “Fort Sill and the Fires Center of Excellence play a critical role in achieving the Army’s top priorities in military readiness and modernization by ensuring our soldiers are trained and equipped to fight and defend this country. The importance of Fort Sill’s mission, coupled with unparalleled community and state support, has resulted in continued growth for the installation and I look forward to their bright future. Congratulations to the men and women of Fort Sill and the community of Lawton on this significant milestone.”

“As the home of field artillery, Fort Sill’s contributions over the last 150 years have been numerous and long lasting,” said Cole. “The Army’s Fires Center of Excellence has greatly prepared service members and indeed increased the overall strength and readiness of our nation’s total defense. During my many visits while serving the Fourth District of Oklahoma, I have had the great privilege of observing firsthand the incredible role Fort Sill plays in the development and implementation of Air Defense and Field Artillery training for the Army of the future. In celebrating 150 years of excellence, I am confident Fort Sill and the Fires Center of Excellence will remain a driving and pioneering force that prepares our military to successfully complete every mission.”

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