James Lankford

Cost Isn’t Everything. Pentagon Should Judge Contractors on Cybersecurity, Report Says
Security would be ‘fourth pillar’ in weapons purchase decisions

Aerial view of the Pentagon building photographed on Sept. 24, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Pentagon should take into account the cybersecurity capabilities of defense contractors in addition to cost and performance measures when awarding contracts, a U.S. government-funded think tank recommended in a report published Monday.

Through its buying process, the Pentagon “can influence and shape the conduct of its suppliers,” the Mitre Corp. said in a report titled “Deliver Uncompromised: A Strategy for Supply Chain Security and Resilience in Response to the Changing Character of War.”

Senate Passes Spending Package, Rejects Trump’s Proposed Cuts
Chamber has now passed seven of the 12 annual spending bills

Sen. Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., has shepherded a largely bipartisan appropriations process, pushing forward a four-package spending measure on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate approved a $154.2 billion, four-bill fiscal 2019 spending package Wednesday as a continuing bipartisan effort in the chamber pushed it ahead of the House in the appropriations process.

The vote was 92-6. Republicans cast the opposing votes: Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Mike Lee of Utah, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania.

Senators Working to Reinstate Mandatory Cyber Training
House mandated all staff training in 2015, while Senate lapsed in requirements

Senate Rules and Administration Chairman Roy Blunt and his colleagues on the panel are working to reinstate mandatory cybersecurity training for the Senate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate staffers are not required to undergo information security or cybersecurity training, even as hackers target Congress.

“The cybersecurity threat is very real, and frankly we haven’t stepped up and done what I think we should do to deal with it — which should be an all government response,” Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas said when asked Tuesday about attempted hacks of Senate networks.

Partisan Clash Over Election System Security Looming in Senate
Democrats want $250 million to help states

Senate Democrats want a floor vote on an amendment to provide $250 million in grant aid to help states beef up election system security. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A partisan clash over Russian hacking of state elections systems appears to be coming to a head in the Senate, where a provision to add $250 million to a four-bill spending package for states to beef up election system security may be headed for a floor vote.

Democrats are using an announcement from the Election Assistance Commission and President Donald Trump’s comments in Helsinki on July 16 to pressure Republicans to allow a floor vote on Sen. Patrick J. Leahy’s amendment to provide $250 million in grant aid to states to secure election systems.

Officials Silent on Trump’s Turkey Sanctions Over Detained Pastor
President often announces policy moves before notifying aides and agencies

President Donald Trump welcomes President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey to the West Wing of the White House on May 16, 2017. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

White House and Treasury Department officials are so far unable to provide details about which entities and individuals will be targeted by sanctions on Turkey that President Donald Trump announced Thursday, another sign how he often announces policies while his aides scramble to craft them. 

Trump tweeted Thursday morning that his administration will slap “large sanctions” on Turkey in retaliation to its imprisonment of U.S. evangelical pastor Andrew Brunson, answering cries from lawmakers over charges they have called unfounded.

Stealth Fighter Sale to Turkey Risks Russian Interference
Senators turn to spending bill, NDAA in bid to block purchase

President Donald Trump stands in front of an F-35 fighter jet at the White House on July 23, alongside CEO Marillyn Hewson and test pilot Alan Norman of Lockheed Martin. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The United States’ plans to sell the stealthy F-35 jet to a key NATO ally could allow Russia to study the most expensive weapons program in Pentagon history like a lab sample — a threat that has drawn the attention of several senators intent on protecting the pricey plane.

Turkey is just one of many NATO members that plans to buy the American-made F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, but it is the only country in the alliance that has also inked a deal to purchase the Russian-made S-400 missile defense system.

Is Trump Building a Nixonian Enemies List?
A Republican chuckled at notion. A Democrat sees ‘authoritarian behavior’

Sens. Tim Kaine, D-Va., left, and James Lankford, R-Okla., right, have very different views of a White House proposal to strip several former Obama administration officials of their security clearances. All have criticized President Donald Trump. Also pictured, Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A Republican lawmaker chuckled. A Democratic senator nodded in emphatic agreement. And a possible 2020 GOP presidential candidate offered nuanced criticism.

How some lawmakers feel about President Donald Trump’s threat to punish political foes who have criticized him — and whether it reminds them of Richard Nixon — depends on how they feel about the president and his unconventional tactics. It makes the issue a microcosm of the Trump presidency.

Senate Democrats Likely to Oppose Push to Block Health Insurance Mandate
Desire to keep contentious amendments off spending bills might prevail

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., chairs the Appropriations subcommittee where any amendment on the D.C. health insurance mandate might come up first in the Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A Republican amendment to a House-passed spending package that would ban the District of Columbia from implementing an individual health insurance coverage requirement is unlikely to gain steam as the Senate prepares to take up a similar measure.

It’s not clear yet if any Senate Republicans will introduce a similar amendment when the Financial Services and Interior-Environment package reaches the Senate floor, but it would likely face fierce minority opposition in the chamber, where Democrats are defending the 2010 health care law at every opportunity.

Trump’s Trade Policies Get a Senate Slapdown
Lawmakers support congressional authority over tariff decisions

President Donald Trump trade policies aren’t feeling the love from Congress. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senators delivered a bipartisan, if nonbinding, rebuke to President Donald Trump’s trade policies on the floor Wednesday, voting 88-11 to express support for congressional authority over presidential decisions to impose tariffs for national security reasons.

The motion, offered by GOP Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee and Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania, would instruct conferees on an unrelated $147 billion spending bill covering the Departments of Energy, Veterans Affairs, Army Corps of Engineers and other agencies to “include language providing a role for Congress in making a determination” under a law enabling presidents to impose trade restrictions on security grounds.

Lankford: Reuniting Immigrant Families Is Complicated
Human traffickers and parents who aren’t ready to reunite with their children has made process more difficult

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., said there are a number of complications for reuniting immigrant families. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

As a California court deadline came and went Tuesday for the Trump administration to reunite 102 undocumented immigrant children under the age of 5 with their parents, Sen. James Lankford came to the administration’s defense after it did not fully meet the court’s demands.

Dozens of the children are still at temporary housing facilities as the Justice and Health and Human Services Departments vet those who have claimed to be the children’s parents through DNA tests, criminal background checks, and other means.