Sen. Lankford focuses on federal appropriations bills

The U.S. Senate is in session … in August … as lawmakers try to create a budget for the U.S. government, Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford said Friday.

Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, was in Yukon during a brief respite from work in Washington. He returned Monday to continue work on the federal appropriations bill.

Lankford said he was among the senators who told leadership this year that another omnibus bill instead of a true budget was not acceptable.

“Mitch (McConnell) took us seriously,” Lankford told about 35 people attending a Chamber of Commerce luncheon at 10 West Main.

So far, nine appropriations bills have been approved. There are three pending, Lankford said. Getting those bills approved will be his focus over the next few weeks.

The new fiscal year begins Oct. 1. Lankford said he is hopeful that all 12 bills will be approved before then.

Lankford also is focused on trying to get federal nominations pushed through the Senate. He said there are 155 nominations being held up by Democrats. He said that while they can’t stop the nominations from being approved, Democrats can slow down the process.

That is what is happening now, he said.

Those nominations include some in Oklahoma such as judges and attorneys general.

There also is an upcoming hearing for a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Senate is scheduled to begin hearings on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on Sept. 4.

“I’ve already met with him,” Lankford said. “We hope to have him on the court when the session begins in October.”

Meanwhile, Lankford said other issues facing the Senate include the ongoing debate over opioids.

The senator said he believes there is a need for additional research money to look at ways to produce pain medication that isn’t addictive.

“Opioids are effective, but for some people they are highly addictive,” he said.

Lankford also discussed issues ranging from executive orders, health savings accounts and election security during his stop.

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