James Paul Lankford (born March 4, 1968) is an American politician who is the junior United States Senator from Oklahoma. A member of the Republican Party, he served as the U.S. Representative for Oklahoma's 5th congressional district from 2011 to 2015.
From 1996 to 2009, Lankford was the student ministries and evangelism specialist for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, and he was director of the Falls Creek youth programming at the Falls Creek Baptist Conference Center in Davis, Oklahoma. He stepped down on September 1, 2009, to run for Congress.
In January 2014, Lankford announced he would run in the 2014 special Senate election to succeed Tom Coburn. He subsequently won the June 2014 primary with 57% of the vote, becoming the Republican nominee for the November election, which he would win in the heavily-Republican state with nearly 68% of the vote.
Early life and education
Lankford was born March 4, 1968 in Dallas, Texas, the son of Linda Joyce (née House) and James Wesley Lankford. His mother was an elementary school librarian. His maternal grandparents owned a small dry cleaning business, his father and paternal grandparents a dairy farm. His stepfather was a career employee of AC Delco, the parts division of General Motors.
His parents divorced when he was four; his mother and older brother and he lived for a time in his grandparents' garage apartment. He became a Christian at eight. She remarried when he was twelve, and the family moved to Garland with his stepfather. Lankford attended Lakeview Centennial High School in Garland. While at Lakeview Lankford participated in the Close Up Washington civic education program. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Education (specializing in Speech and History) at University of Texas at Austin in 1990, and master's degree in Divinity at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1994.
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Camp program director
After graduating, he moved to Edmond, a suburb of Oklahoma City, where he still lives today. He served with the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. He became the program director of Falls Creek, the largest Christian camp in the U.S.
U.S. House of Representatives
After two-term incumbent Republican Mary Fallin announced she was giving up her seat to make what would be a successful run for Governor of Oklahoma, Lankford entered the race to succeed her. He finished first in a seven-way Republican primary--the real contest in this heavily Republican district--and defeated former State Representative Kevin Calvey in the run off. He then routed Democrat Billy Coyle in the general election, winning with 62.53% of the popular vote.
Lankford defeated Democrat Tom Guild with 59 percent of the vote. Following the election, he was named chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee, the fifth-ranking position in the House Republican caucus. This is a very senior position for a second-term House member.
Lankford supports simple budget austerity through lowering taxes and reducing government spending. He took the taxpayer protection pledge promising to support no new taxes. He supports the repeal of the income and estate taxes and supports a sales tax to tax consumption and not savings or earnings.
Lankford is a supporter of budget austerity and thus supports prioritizing spending if the debt limit is reached and the Cut-Cap-and-Balance Pledge. He also supports a balanced budget amendment and voted to terminate the Home Affordable mortgage Program.
He supports compensatory time-off for overtime workers and received a 100% rating by the CEI, indicating a pro-workplace choice stance.
Lankford supports loosening restrictions on interstate gun purchases. He opposes firearm microstamping, a controversial method of imprinting casings with a unique marking to match it with a specific firearm, and would allow veterans to register unlicensed firearms.
Lankford supports extending the Patriot Act and expanding roving wiretaps occurring in the US. Lankford supports the prioritization of security, starting with military bases.
He supports expanding exploration of gas and oil both domestically and on the outer continental shelf. He opposes the EPA regulating emission standards as he believes it hinders economic growth.
In addition to barring the EPA from regulating emission standards, Lankford believes manure and other fertilizers should not be classified as pollutants or hazardous.
Lankford has stated his belief that federally funded healthcare is unconstitutional and has made a statement that he will oppose any and all moves for a federal healthcare system. He supported an initiative to allow Medicare choice and also institute budget cuts.
Lankford opposes abortion. He supports banning all federally funded abortions and believes Congress should recognize life at the moment of fertilization. He opposes any federally funded healthcare or coverage programs that allow for abortion, as well as Planned Parenthood and other similar groups. He also opposes forced abortions by the UN Population Fund.
Lankford believes marriage is a union between a man and woman. He has also stated that being gay is a choice and should not be protected from workplace discrimination. He said he believes the distinction lies in a person's choice to act on their sexual orientation.
As a Representative, Lankford sponsored 20 bills, including:
112th Congress (2011-2012)
- H.R. 569, a bill to exclude millionaires from receiving unemployment benefits, introduced February 9, 2011, reintroduced in the 113th Congress as H.R. 2448
- H.R. 1585, a bill to allow states not to participate in the Federal-aid highway program, introduced April 15, 2011
- H.R. 2414, a bill to exempt certain farm vehicles from certain federal motor vehicle regulations, introduced July 6, 2011
- H.R. 3609, a bill to require government agencies to identify and describe each program they administer, the cost to administer those programs, expenditures for services, the number of program beneficiaries, and the number of employees involved, introduced December 8, 2011, reintroduced in the 113th Congress as H.R. 1423. H.R. 1423 passed the House but has not become law.
- H.R. 4259, a bill to expand federal authority over taking action against contractors, grant recipients, and cooperatives that engage in human trafficking, introduced March 26, 2012
- H.R. 4307, a bill to prohibit the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation from spending funds for cultural preservation outside of the United States, introduced March 29, 2012, reintroduced in the 113th Congress as H.R. 2245
113th Congress (2013-2014)
- H.R. 3787, a bill to repeal a provision of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 that reduces the cost-of-living-adjustment for the retirement pay of veterans under the age of 62, to prohibit increases in pension payments for retired members of Congress under the age of 62, and to require the Secretaries of Defense and Veteran Affairs to jointly purchased brand-name prescription drugs, introduced December 19, 2013
- H.R. 4849, a bill to require advanced biofuel, biomass-based diesel, and cellulosic biofuel included in the renewable fuel program to be produced in the United States, introduced June 12, 2014
- H.R. 5786, a bill to reduce and exempt from certain regulations financial institutions with less than $10 billion in assets, and to require that at least one member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors have experience with such financial institutions, introduced December 3, 2014
- Committee on the Budget
- Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
- Subcommittee on Energy Policy, Health Care and Entitlements (Chairman)
- Republican Policy Committee (Chair)
In January 2014, Lankford announced he would run in the 2014 special Senate election to succeed retiring Republican Senator Tom Coburn. Lankford won the June 2014 Republican primary, defeating former state House speaker T.W. Shannon and former state senator Randy Brogdon. Lankford won the election for the unexpired portion of Coburn's Oklahoma U.S. Senate seat defeating retiring state senator Constance N. Johnson by a margin of 557,002, 67.9%, to Johnson's 237,923, 29.0%, with independent candidate Mark Beard collecting 25,965 votes, 3.2% of the total.
Lankford was sworn into office on January 6, 2015 by Vice President Joe Biden.
- Committee on Appropriations
- Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies
- Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development
- Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government
- Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies
- Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs
- Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
- Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management (Chairman)
- Committee on Indian Affairs
- Select Committee on Intelligence
Lankford has been married to his wife, Cindy, for 20 years. They have two daughters: Hannah and Jordan. He attends Quail Springs Baptist Church, a Southern Baptist church in Oklahoma City.
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