James Lankford

Senate Sends Criminal Justice Bill to the House
Action comes after years of debate, bipartisan support

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.,resisted bringing the criminal justice bill to the floor initially, but he ultimately supported it. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate voted 87-12 to pass an amended criminal justice overhaul bill on Tuesday, sending a bipartisan measure that almost did not make it to the floor to what backers said was a clear and swift path to becoming law.

The bill, which was brought to the floor as an amendment to an unrelated measure, survived initial indifference from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., a series of amendments from Republican opponents, and the addition of some other amendments before ultimately earning an overwhelming bipartisan final vote.

Senate Defies Trump on Saudi Arabia, Advances Yemen Measure
Vote comes after veto threat by White House

Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is remembered at a memorial earlier this month at the Mayflower Hotel on November 2, 2018 in Washington. Khashoggi, a U.S. resident and critic of the Saudi regime, was killed after entering the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul on October 2. (Zach Gibson/Getty Images file photo)

In a rebuke to the White House, the Senate cast a procedural vote Wednesday to advance a resolution that would cut off most U.S. military aid to Saudi Arabia’s war operations in Yemen.

The Senate voted 63-37 to agree to a motion to discharge the Foreign Relations Committee from considering the measure, which authorizes the chamber to begin mulling the resolution, a debate that is likely to occur next week.

Budget Overhaul Panel Can’t Pull It Together in Time for Thanksgiving
Lowey: Reporting out final product as-is would ‘doom it to failure’

Rep. Steve Womack, says that while the joint committee package does not completely satisfy every member of the panel, “that is no reason for us not to move forward and finish this.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The special select panel charged with overhauling the congressional budget process on Thursday punted a final vote on recommendations until after Thanksgiving amid disagreement by its two leaders over when the panel should act.

The committee is scheduled to reconvene at 2 p.m. Nov. 27, three days ahead of the Nov. 30 deadline for the committee to report a bill.

Paper Is Big Again, at Least for Elections. These States Don’t Have It
Headed into the midterms, 14 states have a paper trail problem

Voters fill out their paper ballots in D.C. in 2008. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

Just days before a pivotal midterm congressional election, dozens of jurisdictions around the country go to polls without a paper backup for electronic voting systems. The shortfall comes despite nearly two years of warnings from cybersecurity experts that in the absence of a paper backup system, voters’ intentions cannot be verified in case of a cyberattack that alters election databases.

Fourteen states will conduct the midterm elections where voters will register their choices in an electronic form but will not leave behind any paper trail that could be used to audit and verify the outcome.

GOP Sen. James Lankford Equivocates on Trump Claim that China Is Interfering in US Elections
President: ‘We have evidence’

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., addressed the potential for China to interfere in U.S. elections in broad strokes. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Republican Sen. James Lankford, a member of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee, equivocated in an interview this week on the question of whether the Chinese government is seeking to influence the midterm elections as the president has claimed.

President Donald Trump said at the United Nations Security Council in September that “regrettably, we found that China has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming 2018 election coming up in November against my administration.”

New Bill Would Hold HHS Feet to Fire for Unaccompanied Minors
Whereabouts of nearly 1,500 undocumented children are reportedly unknown

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., says the Department of Health and Human Services has a responsibility to ensure the safety of unaccompanied minors even after they’re placed with a sponsor. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A bipartisan group of senators have introduced a bill designed to ensure that the Department of Health and Human Services takes full responsibility for, and keeps better track of, unaccompanied children who come to the border seeking entry to the United States and then are placed with U.S. sponsors.

The legislation follows a new report that revealed that the government could not determine the whereabouts of nearly 1,500 children that HHS had placed with sponsors this year.

Outside Kavanaugh Cacophony, Congress Faces Looming Deadline on Government Spending
Despite steady progress this year, lawmakers have little time to pass funding bills

Sen. Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., talks with reporters in the Capitol’s Senate subway before the Senate Policy luncheons on August 28, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The multiday media circus surrounding the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh notwithstanding, Congress is facing a Sept. 30 deadline to fund the government, with appropriators struggling to work out their differences on fiscal 2019 spending. 

There are only 11 legislative days this month when the House and Senate are both scheduled to be in session. That means there isn’t much floor time in either chamber to vote on what could be as many as three conference reports with spending totaling more than $1 trillion, even if the legislation is privileged in the Senate and the House limits debate.

Road Ahead: Remembering McCain, and Confirming Trump Nominations
Senate hearing agenda relatively light for last week of August

Sen. James Lankford has authored a proposal that would change debate time for nominations. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

When senators left Washington last Thursday, they didn’t expect to be in mourning when they returned.

But the death of Sen. John McCain Saturday and the period of remembrance and celebration that will consume this week could have short-term repercussions for the rest of the agenda. Some senators may well make the trip to Arizona for a memorial service Thursday.

Trump Objections to Senate Election Security Bill Stalled Measure
Scheduled Wednesday markup was delayed indefinitely

Senators want to require verifiable paper trails for ballots. President Donald Trump does not. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump is objecting to the Senate’s effort to help improve election security, citing concerns about imposing federal burdens on state and local governments.

The Rules and Administration Committee abruptly scrapped a Wednesday  markup of bipartisan election security legislation, and there were rumors that the White House might have been at least in part behind the delay.

Senate Panel Abruptly Cancels Markup of Election Security Bill
Anti-hacking measure would require paper ballots, post-election audits

Sen. Amy Klobuchar says she’s “disappointed” by the decision to postpone a markup of her election security bill, which had bipartisan support from both Republicans and Democrats like Sen. Mark Warner. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A Senate committee on Wednesday abruptly postponed the planned markup of a key election security bill that had bipartisan support and would have imposed new audit requirements on states.

The markup of the Secure Elections Act, authored by Oklahoma Republican James Lankford and Minnesota Democrat Amy Klobuchar, is “postponed until further notice,” the Senate Rules and Administration Committee said on its website.