VIDEO: Senator Lankford Delivers Maiden Speech
WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today delivered his first formal address on the floor of the Senate. This time-honored tradition, called a Maiden Floor Speech, dates back to the early 1900’s.
The speech focused on challenges that lay ahead for America and how the nation can address them. Lankford specifically talked about the role of federal government, the impact of the regulatory state on American people, our national defense and foreign threats, and the impact of families on public policy. In honor of the National Day of Prayer, Lankford ended his speech with a prayer for the nation. CLICK HERE to see the full transcript of the speech. To view Senator Lankford’s Maiden Speech, please CLICK HERE.
Below are excerpts from the speech:
It is my honor to represent my family, neighbors and the millions of people in my very diverse state of Oklahoma. I am an ordinary Oklahoman; I do not come from a prominent family or a political machine. My wife of 23 years Cindy is here in this chamber today. We have walked through life together and raised two incredible girls who love God and love our nation. Stepping into this body has a high cost for your family, but we are all called to this task together. I have tremendous staff in Oklahoma and here in DC who have sacrificed incredible time and energy for the future of our nation. Every day they work very hard to solve the issues we face. This is my first official moment to join the ranks of those to stand and speak about what I consider essential and the work ahead for all of us. It’s what I call the three “ D’s”, what I talk about all the time- Debt, Defense and Directives. Let me take those in reverse order.
On Government Efficiency and Regulations:
People ask me all the time, what do Oklahoman’s want from their federal government, the answer is simple, they want to be left alone. They do not want someone over a thousand miles away telling them how to do their business and how to run their lives. It is not that people in Oklahoma are anti-government, far from it – we have a strong patriotism that drives us to serve our nation and honor those who give their lives to public service. Twenty years ago, Oklahoma and the nation was devastated by a truck bomb at the Oklahoma City federal building, killing 168 people- most of those federal employees. We are grateful for people in government who serve faithfully every day. But, we also understand that our federal Government has a task, and it also has a territory. Federal offices should do their task efficiently with great transparency and accountability. But, they should also stay out of other people’s tasks and do theirs with great effectiveness.
On Bipartisanship in Congress:
So far this session I have co-authored or co-sponsored bills or worked on ideas with Ted Cruz, Elizabeth Warren, Gary Peters, John Cornyn, Heidi Hietkamp, Diane Fienstien, Orrin Hatch, Mike Lee, Steve Daines, Tim Scott, Rob Portman, Tom Carper, Angus King, Rand Paul, Jeanne Shaheen, John McCain, Mike Enzi, Kelly Ayotte, Mark Kirk, and Ron Johnson. Just to name a few. I did not have to sacrifice my conservative values – but I did have to admit that anyone can have a good idea and just because we disagree on one thing doesn’t mean I have to belittle people.
I finally know this feeling of what it is like to be in Congress. It’s the feeling you have at Middle School lunch. It’s that feeling of I get more popular by sitting at my table and making fun of everyone else at everyone else’s table. And if I ever say something nice, about someone else at another table, my table shakes their head and says ‘why would you do that?’ But if I ever say something unkind, everyone says ‘way to go’. Welcome to Congress. Only we can turn this around. We will strongly disagree on certain areas, but we should find the areas of common ground, where we don’t’ have to sacrifice our values, and be able to find ways to work together.
On National Defense and Foreign Threats:
Our freedom is foreign to most of the world and is a threat to them, not because the United States is an aggressor nation- far from it- but because the Liberty we export is so powerful they know well that it could depose their dictatorships and weaken their control.
Many government leaders around the world would rather keep their people poor and closely managed, than allow them to be prosperous and free. Iran is on the rise. Since the 1979 revolution, Iran has exported terrorism around the world, and I am convinced that some individuals in this Administration trust Iran’s words more than they trust history, the facts on the ground or even their own intuition. We cannot allow the largest exporter of terrorism in the world to also have nuclear weapons – We cannot do that.
On the Value of Diversity:
Every person, even people we disagree with are valuable. It’s why the issue, of just a side note, of race is so important to us in America. Because we understand in many parts of the world, if you are from the wrong family, the wrong tribe, the wrong race, the wrong faith, you cannot get a job, government services, housing, etc. that’s how other places do it. That’s not us. We have chosen not to be like that as a nation. Where injustice exists, we want to bring freedom and equality – within our own boundaries or around the world. We believe every person is created equal and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights. Every person.
Oklahoma’s Role in Nation’s Defense:
I have the privilege, and I do count it as a privilege, of serving thousands of men and women and their families who faithfully protect our nation every day – in all branches of the military, first responders on our streets, in the intelligence community, at our ports, in the air, training, equipping and protecting. Hundreds of thousands in Oklahoma. In fact without Oklahoma, our nation could not sustain our Air Force, train our pilots, re-arm our munitions, fire artillery or rockets, talk to our subs, train young soldiers, refuel our aircraft, control battlefield airspace or deliver supplies. Our guard and reserve units have fulfilled everything that has been asked of them by their nation – some of them to their last full measure.
On the National Debt:
The CBO estimates that we will spend over $800 billion in interest payments by the end of the 10-year window. That is more than we spend on all defense spending, education, transportation and energy combined. We’ll do just in interest payments in the days ahead. We need to fix two things this budget hole – efficiently managed federal spending and a growing economy.
American Values and Family:
All of this talk about security, economy and liberty still boils down to one thing – our families. Nothing is bigger in our nation than our families… we are not a nation of wealth, we are a nation of families. The rise of government is directly connected to the collapse of families. It’s not that the government is pushing down families, it’s that families are collapsing and government is trying to rise to fix that. It won’t fix it.
Government cannot fix family, but we can make sure we there is no marriage penalty in our tax law, we can make sure we do not incentivize broken families in our social welfare programs, we can use our moments and our times when we speak to state the obvious, America is strongest when American families are strong – let’s not be afraid to step out to protect what we know works.
National Day of Prayer:
Today is the national day of prayer and I thought it would be entirely appropriate to be able to end this conversation with both a reminder to call our nation to prayer. To remember Psalm 46:1-2 NIV, God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in time of trouble. Therefore I will not fear. To not only remember that but Mr. President, for me to actually call the Senate to pray.
Let’s pray together. Father, I pray for our nation. I pray that you would give us wisdom and direction. I pray for this body, the incredible men and women who have set aside their families, and their careers, and their life to come serve their nation. I pray that you would give us unity of attitude and diversity of opinion, that you give us the capacity to be able to solve issues ahead of us. I pray for President Obama, for Vice-president Biden, for the Supreme Court, for the House of Representatives, for the men and women around the world right now that are serving us quietly in ways in intelligence, publicly as first responders and leaders, and our military scattered across the earth. God would you protect them. Would you allow us as families and as leaders to represent You and the values of our nation. To a world that needs our leadership still. God use this time- use us. As broken as we are, we know that you are an ever-present help in a time of trouble, and we will not fear. Thank you Jesus. Amen.