U.S. Sen. James Lankford and 4th District Congressman Tom Cole were among those sponsoring legislation to eliminate sections of U.S. law discriminatory to American Indians. The provisions include forced removal of Indian children from their homes and authorizing forced labor.

The laws have not been enforced in decades, but the legislation’s authors said it is important to formally remove the language from statute.

Lankford said the bill “ensures that we acknowledge and work to solve some of our nation’s previous belittling of Native Americans through our laws. As we continue to cultivate our national values based on respect and dignity for all people, we can and should address antiquated and offensive old laws put in place to specifically isolate Native Americans.”

“Though no longer enforced, these laws are a painful reminder of the past suffering and poor treatment experienced by Native Americans,” said Cole, a Chickasaw citizen.

Turkey shoot: Both of Oklahoma’s U.S. senators voiced concern about Turkey’s receipt of components for a Russian anti-aircraft system.

The system is built specifically to attack the American-made F-35, which Turkey also wants to acquire.

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, signed onto a joint statement that read, in part, “we urge President Trump to fully implement sanctions as required by law under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act. Additionally, while all F-35 material deliveries remain indefinitely suspended, we call on the Department of Defense to proceed with the termination of Turkey’s participation in the F-35 program.”

Lankford said Turkey has “solidified (its) stance with the acquisition of the Russian S-400, a surface-to-air defense system created to target and destroy the American F-35. Turkey is trying to play both sides ... Turkey cannot have both Russian and American defense equipment sitting side by side.”

Medical expenses: Lankford delivered a far-ranging floor speech on health care costs and in particular prescription medicines.

“I continue to hear from Oklahomans all over the state about how hard it is to be able to deal with the cost in prescription drugs, how rapidly the costs are increasing, and how sporadic the cost changes really are,” Lankford said.

“They’ll have a drug that costs a small amount one month and come back a month later and find a dramatic increase for the exact same drug. They can go pharmacy to pharmacy and find a different price for the exact same drug or find the pharmacy that’s closest to them, doesn’t offer that drug, a different pharmacy is the only one that’s allowed to have that drug. And the complexity is driving them crazy, rightfully so.”

Lankford put a lot of the blame on prescription benefit managers, or PBMs.

“Pharmacy Benefit Managers are supposed to negotiate between the manufacturers and the insurance plans to lower the prices,” he said. “And in many areas they have lowered prices.”

But, he said, PBMs have put some pharmacies at an unfair disadvantage and created “one of the most elaborate, complex, and opaque systems of pricing.”

Epstein case: Now that Alex Acosta has resigned as Labor Secretary, it will be interesting to see if Lankford and other Republicans were correct in their contention that the press is only interested in the Jeffrey Epstein case because it involved a member of President Trump’s cabinet.

“What I’m disappointed at is so much of the coverage ... on every network has been about President Trump and Acosta as labor secretary, and we’ve not really spent a lot of time talking about the girls that were abused in the process and trafficked and about Epstein and what the horrific acts that he really did,” Lankford told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer prior to Acosta’s resignation.

The remark was similar to one by Kellyanne Conway, an adviser to President Donald Trump, a day earlier.

Blitzer asked Lankford if the revelations about Acosta’s actions in the case weren’t more newsworthy precisely because he is a high-ranking administration official.

Lankford said Acosta’s involvement should be reported but said his “impression is a lot of the push right now is because he’s a Trump Cabinet member and not because of the case.”

Epstein, a celebrity financier with ties to both Republicans and Democrats, is accused of sex trafficking and sex trafficking conspiracy involving underage girls for more than a decade.

Acosta, as a U.S. attorney in Florida, is accused of violating federal law eight years ago by arranging a lenient plea bargain without notifying victims who had come forward against Epstein.

Similar federal sex-trafficking charges were filed in New York last week.

Dots and dashes: U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe chaired the Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing for Army Gen. Mark Milley, the administration’s nominee to chair the Joint Chiefs of Staff. ... National Aeronautics and Space Administration Administrator Jim Bridenstine, a former 1st District congressman, startled the space industry by abruptly reassigning two of the agencies top officials. Out are Bill Gerstenmaier, chief of human exploration and operations and a NASA employee since 1977, and Bill Hill, head of exploration systems development. ... Fourth District Congressman Tom Cole joined a congressional group visiting NATO allies.


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