James Lankford


U.S. Sen. James Lankford last week compared the flight of the Mars probe InSight to Congress’ lack of progress on immigration and urged his colleagues to “make decisions about how we’re going to handle” the issue.

“While InSight was traveling 300 million miles, this Senate still did nothing to be able to resolve the issue of immigration,” Lankford said in a Thursday floor speech.

It was Lankford’s 10th speech on immigration, which he has taken up as both a humanitarian and national security issue.

In his speech, Lankford said lawmakers should examine the reasons more children are showing up at the U.S. border and said “this Congress has been unwilling (to take) the votes ... to make sure family units actually stay together because the drama of tearing families apart looks so much better on TV.”

Citing a Washington Post story, Lankford said some of the children coming from Central America are unrelated to the adults accompanying them because the “coyotes” leading the migrant bands offer discounts for bringing minors.

“Let’s find a way to be able to work out work visas,” Lankford said. “Let’s deal with issues like temporary protected status that need to be resolved. Let’s deal with the issues of our immigration, but let’s not continue to stall.

“If the Mars InSight probe can travel 300 million miles in five months, surely this Congress can sit down and resolve the immigration issue in a few months.

Them or us: U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe told Bloomberg News that Turkey will have to choose between the U.S. and Russia for air defense acquisitions.

“Turkey is an important NATO ally, but they need to act like it as well ... the bottom line is: Turkey must make a decision between Russia and the West,” Inhofe said.

Turkey has plans to buy as many as 100 F-35 fighter jets from the U.S., but also wants to acquire Russia’s S-400 system, which includes a complex array of missiles, radar, sensors and communications components.

The U.S. and other members of NATO — the North American Treaty Organization — say installation and operation of the S-400 will provide cover for Russian technicians to poke around the F-35 and other western weapons systems.

Thus, the Defense Department recently recommended reconsidering the F-35 transfer.

“That’s the right call,” Inhofe said.

Science guy: Third District Congressman Frank Lucas has been named the top Republican on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee.

Lucas was chairman of the House Agriculture Committee during a GOP majority. With Republicans in the minority beginning in January, Lucas will be ranking Republican on Science, meaning he’d be in line for the chairmanship should his party regain control of the House.

Lucas is currently the committee’s vice chairman.

Cole elected: Fellow party members chose 4th District Congressman Tom Cole to serve on the Republican Steering Committee during the 116th Congress. The Steering Committee assigns committee membership and picks nonelected leadership positions.

Dots and dashes: Lankford lamented Congress’ inaction on budgeting proposals put forward by the Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform, of which he was a member.

Inhofe and Rep. Mac Thornberry of Texas, chairmen of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, published a Wall Street Journal op-ed urging President Donald Trump not to cut military spending.

Randy has been with the Tulsa World since 1979. He is a native of Hinton, Okla., and graduate of Oklahoma State University. Krehbiel primarily covers government and politics. Phone: 918-581-8365