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Oklahoma Rep. James Lankford wins spot in House Republican leadership team

The Oklahoma City freshman secures fifth-ranking spot without a race and will help develop Republican policy on issues ranging from spending to immigration reform
by Chris Casteel Modified: November 14, 2012 at 7:43 pm •  Published: November 14, 2012

Rep. James Lankford, reaching another stage in his fast rise in politics, secured a spot Wednesday on the House Republican leadership team.

The Oklahoma City freshman, who has been meeting face-to-face with his Republican colleagues for weeks to win support, ran unopposed for chairman of the House Policy Committee, the fifth-ranking position in the House GOP hierarchy.

The policy committee has no responsibility to pass legislation or hold hearings; it functions more like a think tank, developing positions on issues and distributing information to other members.

“It's working with individuals and committee leadership and the speaker's office and trying to move this piece of legislation and this idea,” Lankford said in an interview after he won the post.

“It's hearing all the voices in our conference, bringing information to them. … Helping individual members who are weak on a policy idea get up on that area of policy. Also making sure that as we approach the actual writing of the bill that we're comfortable with where we're headed on it.”

On the agenda

When he takes over the spot for the Congress that begins in January, the policy committee will be working on tax reform, immigration, entitlement reform and “obviously spending, the big animal we have to deal with, the $16 trillion debt,” he said.

Some other Republican members were interested in the post when it became clear that the current chairman, Georgia Rep. Tom Price, would run for another leadership spot, but Lankford nailed down the position without a race.

Asked how he was able, as a freshman, to round up the support, Lankford said, “I really couldn't even tell you.”

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by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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