Senator Lankford Supports State and Foreign Operations Funding Bill

WASHINGTON, DC – On Thursday, Senator James Lankford (R-OK) supported the FY2018 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill, which includes many of his proposals to provide better oversight over large foreign assistance programs and to promote international religious freedom. 

“As threats from North Korea, Iran, and violent extremism in Iraq and Syria continue to threaten US interests around the world, maintaining strong US global leadership is more important than ever,” said Lankford. “The US must continue to engage diplomatically with our partners and neighbors around the world so that bad actors do not fill the void. Leadership comes at a price—and at less than one percent of the entire federal budget, our nation receives tremendous value for our investment overseas. However, no taxpayer dollar should be spent without a link to US interests, and that is why I worked with my colleagues on the Committee to implement many commonsense oversight and transparency provisions for our foreign assistance programs. We must show value for our spending—for domestic spending programs as well as international—and we need to reevaluate those programs which are not providing a return on investment for taxpayers.

“Our engagement also means upholding the values our nation holds dear—and in the context of international leadership, the preservation and promotion of religious freedom is of paramount importance. The bill reported out of Committee today ensures we will continue to protect the fundamental human right of religious freedom for all people—to practice any faith or to choose no faith at all without fear of repercussion from their government.

“I applaud the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee State and Foreign Operations funding proposal for recognizing the importance to continue enhancing Congress’ ability to provide rigorous oversight over our foreign assistance programs while also protecting religious freedom, and I hope the Senate incorporates these provisions as we work on government funding for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2018.”

The bill includes a number of provisions offered by Lankford, including: curriculum and training for State Department personnel on religious freedom; the identification of clear goals and strategies for US foreign assistance programs; requirement that the State Department develop a strategy for how to secure the release of Americans detained abroad; and the exertion of pressure on other nations to contribute more to the United Nations peacekeeping budget, among many other important provisions.

Lankford is a member of the Senate Committee on Appropriations and serves on the following subcommittees: Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies; Financial Services and General Government; Labor, Health and Human Services, and Related Agencies; and State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, and chairs the Subcommittee on Legislative Branch.