Lankford Votes Against Rushed, Progressive Wish List Cloaked As COVID Bill

WASHINGTON, DC — Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today opposed the Reconciliation Bill, which spends $1.9 trillion of borrowed money for “COVID” relief. Lankford joined Senators Rick Scott (R-FL) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) early this week to introduce a resolution asking the White House to provide a full accounting of what is unspent and what can be reallocated from the funding already approved.

“The chaotic process that took place over the last week is further proof that this bill was not ready and not right,” said Lankford. “Congress came together five times over the past year in a bipartisan way to address the needs of Americans who have been affected by this health pandemic. There was no reason we couldn’t do that again except that Democrats wanted to load up this bill with non-COVID items.  

“This $1.9 trillion bill funds several progressive projects that are not related to the COVID-19 pandemic and provides funding in many areas that won’t even be used this year.

“The best economic recovery is to get Oklahomans safely back to work using the funding still left unspent from December, not borrowing money from China and elsewhere. We should make sure we continue to respond to those who need an extra hand at this time but be careful to not create a crisis down the road that is left for our children and grandchildren.”

The Senate debated several amendments from Friday through Saturday morning over the weekend. Lankford supported amendments to eliminate the non-COVID items in the bill, use federal tax dollars to open schools, support the state Unemployment Insurance program, protect against federal taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood; balance agriculture grants, balance transportation dollars, equally distribute healthcare funding, and more. Unfortunately, all of those amendments failed, most of them by one vote.

This bill also added direct federal funding for abortion for the first time in over four decades in the name of a COVID-19 pandemic. Funding during a pandemic should save lives, not take lives. Lankford also filed an amendment to ensure the Reconciliation bill complies with the long-standing Hyde amendment, which bars the use of federal dollars to pay for abortion. 

Lankford has been consistently outspoken that Americans are hurting, but Congress should focus on targeted relief to Americans who need it most. Lankford spoke on the Senate floor last month to address that Congress recently passed COVID relief, which billions have not been allocated yet, including to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Institutes for Health (NIH).