Current Issues

This webpage serves as a resource of information for current issues being debated in the United States Senate, as well as information about where Senator James Lankford stands on the issue. This webpage will be updated on a regular basis as the Senate debates important topics.

 

Supreme Court Nomination of Brett Kavanaugh:

Timeline

  • On June 27, Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement from the Supreme Court. 
  • On July 9, President Trump announced his intent to nominate United States Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, and on July 10, President Trump officially nominated Judge Kavanaugh.
  • On July 19, Senator Lankford met with Judge Kavanaugh in his Washington, DC, office. In addition to discussing Judge Kavanaugh’s judicial philosophy, he and Senator Lankford talked about many important issues including the freedom of speech and the free exercise of religion as guaranteed by the First Amendment; the importance of the Fourth Amendment as it pertains to new and emerging technology and our privacy rights; the separation of powers; and the distinct roles of the three branches of government.
  • From September 4th-7th, the Senate Judiciary Committee held four days of hearings on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination.  Judge Kavanaugh testified for two days where Senators were able to question Judge Kavanaugh on his background, judicial philosophy, and perspective. Judge Kavanaugh also spoke to members of the Committee in a closed session where they were able to discuss sensitive and confidential information. The Committee then heard from multiple witnesses in support and in opposition to his nomination.
  • Following the hearing, nearly 1,300 questions (more than for all previous Supreme Court nominees combined) were submitted for the record, which required answers from Kavanaugh and his team.  They supplied these answers within one week of the end of the hearing.
  • On September 13, Judiciary Ranking Member Diane Feinstein released information about a then-confidential letter from a constituent regarding allegations toward Judge Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct that occurred when he was still a minor in the 1980s. The constituent later came forward as Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. The Judiciary Committee then began its formal investigative process into Dr. Ford’s allegations.
  • The Judiciary Committee released additional testimony transcripts from Judge Kavanaugh on September 17th and September 25th
  • On September 27, the Judiciary Committee held an additional, fifth day of hearings to give Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh an opportunity to be heard and questioned by Committee members and a special prosecutor. 
  • On September 28, 2018, the Judiciary Committee voted 11-10 to recommend Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation favorably to the full Senate with a contingent agreement to allow a limited (in time and scope) investigation into Dr. Ford’s and other allegations of sexual misconduct by Judge Kavanaugh. The President agreed to the Committee’s request, and a week-long investigation commenced over the weekend.
  • Following the hearings and the Judiciary Committee’s favorable vote, Senator Lankford remains supportive of Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination, and he will review the FBI”s findings prior the vote in the Senate.
  • It is important to note that the FBI does not draw conclusions; the investigators simply conduct voluntary interviews. Previous Judiciary Committee Chairman Joe Biden stated: “The next person who refers to an FBI report as being worth anything obviously doesn’t understand anything. FBI explicitly does not, in this or any other case, reach a conclusion.”
  • Senator Lankford believes Judge Kavanaugh is capable to serve on the Supreme Court.

Additional Details

  • There were 57 days between Judge Kavanaugh's nomination and the beginning of his hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is more than a week longer than the timeline for Justices Gorsuch, Kagan, and Sotomayor.
  • The Senate Judiciary Committee received more than 480,000 pages of records pertaining to Judge Kavanaugh's time as an Executive Branch lawyer, which represented more than the past five Supreme Court nominees combined. These records are available to any Senator for review, and the Committee has made more than 295,000 of these pages public
  • The Judiciary Committee received only 182,000 pages for Justice Gorsuch, 173,000 for Justice Kagan, 6,350 for Justice Sotomayor, 2,300 for Justice Alito, and 76,000 for Chief Justice Roberts. 

Migrant Family Separation at the Border:

  • This is a very complicated matter. It will not be solved quickly. Senator Lankford believes it should be U.S. policy to keep families together as much as possible.
  • A policy known as the Flores Settlement Agreement led to the Departments of Homeland Security or Justice to be unable to keep children in custody with their parents for an extended period of time IF the parents are charged with a crime for crossing the border illegally. This agreement is the result of the 1997 Flores v. Reno court case, and subsequent interpretations by federal courts, about how to handle Unaccompanied Alien Children and family units who have crossed our border illegally.
  • On June 19, Senator Lankford sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions calling for a halt of family separation while Congress works on a legislative fix.
  • On June 20, Senator Lankford co-sponsored a bill (the Keep Families Together and Enforce the Law Act) that would keep families together while ensuring the integrity and enforceability of our immigration laws. I appreciate that the President took action with an Executive Order, but I believe that legislation is still needed to withstand legal criticism, and also codify this policy into permanent law.

Tax Reform:

  • Throughout 2017, the President and the Congress made tax reform a priority. 
  • On November 9, 2017 the Senate Republican leadership also introduced a tax reform proposal (Tax Cuts & Jobs Act). The Senate passed an amended version of this bill on December 2, 2017. CLICK HERE to read Senator Lankford's statement in support of the bill. 
  • On December 15, a joint House-Senate Conference Committee merged the two bills. CLICK HERE to read a summary of the Senate-House tax conference bill. 
  • On December 19, the House passed the Senate-House tax conference bill, and the Senate passed it on December 20. CLICK HERE to read Senator Lankford's statement. CLICK HERE to view a special edition e-newsletter and video about the tax bill from Senator Lankford.