James Lankford

New Bill Would Hold HHS Feet to Fire for Unaccompanied Minors
Whereabouts of nearly 1,500 undocumented children are reportedly unknown

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., says the Department of Health and Human Services has a responsibility to ensure the safety of unaccompanied minors even after they’re placed with a sponsor. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A bipartisan group of senators have introduced a bill designed to ensure that the Department of Health and Human Services takes full responsibility for, and keeps better track of, unaccompanied children who come to the border seeking entry to the United States and then are placed with U.S. sponsors.

The legislation follows a new report that revealed that the government could not determine the whereabouts of nearly 1,500 children that HHS had placed with sponsors this year.

Outside Kavanaugh Cacophony, Congress Faces Looming Deadline on Government Spending
Despite steady progress this year, lawmakers have little time to pass funding bills

Sen. Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., talks with reporters in the Capitol’s Senate subway before the Senate Policy luncheons on August 28, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The multiday media circus surrounding the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh notwithstanding, Congress is facing a Sept. 30 deadline to fund the government, with appropriators struggling to work out their differences on fiscal 2019 spending. 

There are only 11 legislative days this month when the House and Senate are both scheduled to be in session. That means there isn’t much floor time in either chamber to vote on what could be as many as three conference reports with spending totaling more than $1 trillion, even if the legislation is privileged in the Senate and the House limits debate.

Road Ahead: Remembering McCain, and Confirming Trump Nominations
Senate hearing agenda relatively light for last week of August

Sen. James Lankford has authored a proposal that would change debate time for nominations. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

When senators left Washington last Thursday, they didn’t expect to be in mourning when they returned.

But the death of Sen. John McCain Saturday and the period of remembrance and celebration that will consume this week could have short-term repercussions for the rest of the agenda. Some senators may well make the trip to Arizona for a memorial service Thursday.

Trump Objections to Senate Election Security Bill Stalled Measure
Scheduled Wednesday markup was delayed indefinitely

Senators want to require verifiable paper trails for ballots. President Donald Trump does not. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump is objecting to the Senate’s effort to help improve election security, citing concerns about imposing federal burdens on state and local governments.

The Rules and Administration Committee abruptly scrapped a Wednesday  markup of bipartisan election security legislation, and there were rumors that the White House might have been at least in part behind the delay.

Senate Panel Abruptly Cancels Markup of Election Security Bill
Anti-hacking measure would require paper ballots, post-election audits

Sen. Amy Klobuchar says she’s “disappointed” by the decision to postpone a markup of her election security bill, which had bipartisan support from both Republicans and Democrats like Sen. Mark Warner. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A Senate committee on Wednesday abruptly postponed the planned markup of a key election security bill that had bipartisan support and would have imposed new audit requirements on states.

The markup of the Secure Elections Act, authored by Oklahoma Republican James Lankford and Minnesota Democrat Amy Klobuchar, is “postponed until further notice,” the Senate Rules and Administration Committee said on its website. 

Cost Isn’t Everything. Pentagon Should Judge Contractors on Cybersecurity, Report Says
Security would be ‘fourth pillar’ in weapons purchase decisions

Aerial view of the Pentagon building photographed on Sept. 24, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Pentagon should take into account the cybersecurity capabilities of defense contractors in addition to cost and performance measures when awarding contracts, a U.S. government-funded think tank recommended in a report published Monday.

Through its buying process, the Pentagon “can influence and shape the conduct of its suppliers,” the Mitre Corp. said in a report titled “Deliver Uncompromised: A Strategy for Supply Chain Security and Resilience in Response to the Changing Character of War.”

Senate Passes Spending Package, Rejects Trump’s Proposed Cuts
Chamber has now passed seven of the 12 annual spending bills

Sen. Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., has shepherded a largely bipartisan appropriations process, pushing forward a four-package spending measure on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate approved a $154.2 billion, four-bill fiscal 2019 spending package Wednesday as a continuing bipartisan effort in the chamber pushed it ahead of the House in the appropriations process.

The vote was 92-6. Republicans cast the opposing votes: Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Mike Lee of Utah, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania.

Senators Working to Reinstate Mandatory Cyber Training
House mandated all staff training in 2015, while Senate lapsed in requirements

Senate Rules and Administration Chairman Roy Blunt and his colleagues on the panel are working to reinstate mandatory cybersecurity training for the Senate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate staffers are not required to undergo information security or cybersecurity training, even as hackers target Congress.

“The cybersecurity threat is very real, and frankly we haven’t stepped up and done what I think we should do to deal with it — which should be an all government response,” Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas said when asked Tuesday about attempted hacks of Senate networks.

Partisan Clash Over Election System Security Looming in Senate
Democrats want $250 million to help states

Senate Democrats want a floor vote on an amendment to provide $250 million in grant aid to help states beef up election system security. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A partisan clash over Russian hacking of state elections systems appears to be coming to a head in the Senate, where a provision to add $250 million to a four-bill spending package for states to beef up election system security may be headed for a floor vote.

Democrats are using an announcement from the Election Assistance Commission and President Donald Trump’s comments in Helsinki on July 16 to pressure Republicans to allow a floor vote on Sen. Patrick J. Leahy’s amendment to provide $250 million in grant aid to states to secure election systems.

Officials Silent on Trump’s Turkey Sanctions Over Detained Pastor
President often announces policy moves before notifying aides and agencies

President Donald Trump welcomes President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey to the West Wing of the White House on May 16, 2017. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

White House and Treasury Department officials are so far unable to provide details about which entities and individuals will be targeted by sanctions on Turkey that President Donald Trump announced Thursday, another sign how he often announces policies while his aides scramble to craft them. 

Trump tweeted Thursday morning that his administration will slap “large sanctions” on Turkey in retaliation to its imprisonment of U.S. evangelical pastor Andrew Brunson, answering cries from lawmakers over charges they have called unfounded.