Chris Casteel
Local News 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 The Oklahoman has had a full-time bureau for more than 70 years. While there, Casteel has covered Oklahoma people and issues in Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court and federal agencies and courts in the Washington area. He reported on the Anita Hill hearings, the impeachment and trial of former President Bill Clinton, the federal investigation of former state Sen. Gene Stipe and numerous elections. He has been to 11 national political conventions and five presidential inaugurations.


  • Is the prairie chicken a national security threat?

    By Chris Casteel Washington Bureau ccasteel@oklahoman.com | Published: Sun, May 1, 2016

    The U.S. House Armed Services Committee this week approved an amendment by Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Tulsa, that would prevent listing the bird as threatened or endangered for the next five years. The provision is now part of the annual defense bill, expected to be considered soon by the full House of Representatives.

  • Coburn on Trump versus Clinton: I'll just be quiet

    Chris Casteel Washington Bureau ccasteel@oklahoman.com | Published: Sun, May 1, 2016

    Former Sen. Tom Coburn, asked last week whether he thought Trump could make America great again — the slogan of the New York businessman — Coburn said, "I’d love for him to. I’d love for him to count to ten before he spoke.

  • Coburn encourages former colleagues to work harder cutting waste

    By Chris Casteel Washington Bureau ccasteel@oklahoman.com | Updated: Wed, Apr 27, 2016

    Former U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn urged a Senate committee he formerly served on to work harder at cutting government waste to regain the public's trust.

  • Coburn presses for vote on nominee

    By Chris Casteel Washington Bureau ccasteel@oklahoman.com | Updated: Wed, Apr 27, 2016

    U.S. Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland met Wednesday with both Oklahoma senators, who afterward stuck to their position that he should not receive public hearings or a vote this year. Former Sen. Tom Coburn, who was in Washington on Wednesday, said that stance is a mistake.

  • Coburn says Senate should do its job and vote on Garland

    Chris Casteel | Updated: Wed, Apr 27, 2016

    WASHINGTON _ Former U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn said Wednesday that the Senate should hold a vote, at least in the Judiciary Committee, on the nomination of federal judge Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court. Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican who was on Capitol Hill to testify about government waste, said public hearings on Supreme Court nominees had become a charade and weren't necessary for Garland. He said members of the Senate Judiciary Committee should meet with Garland privately about legal issues and then the full committee should vote on whether to send his nomination to the full Senate. "I think the Senate ought to do its duty,'' he said in an interview. "And the committee ought to vote him up or down.

  • Oklahoma senators to meet with Supreme Court nominee

    By Chris Casteel Washington Bureau ccasteel@oklahoman.com | Published: Wed, Apr 27, 2016

    Oklahoma’s senators will meet with U.S. Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland together Wednesday, fulfilling a promise they made to show a courtesy to the man who played a key role in the Oklahoma City bombing investigation.

  • U.S. Rep. Cole wants funding cut off to health center group over abortion claims

    By Chris Casteel Washington Bureau ccasteel@oklahoman | Updated: Tue, Apr 26, 2016

    Rep. Tom Cole said Tuesday that federal grant money should be shut off to a national organization of community health centers for allowing members of an associated group to assist with abortions.

  • Inhofe to join Lankford meeting with Garland

    Chris Casteel | Updated: Tue, Apr 26, 2016

    WASHINGTON _ Both of Oklahoma's senators plan to meet on Wednesday with U.S. Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, though neither wants the confirmation process to move forward this year. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, agreed Tuesday morning to share the appointment time set last week for a meeting between Garland and Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City. Garland has a strong connection to Oklahoma: As a top Justice Department official in 1995, he coordinated the investigation of the Oklahoma City bombing and the prosecution of those involved, winning widespread praise in the community. Garland, now a federal appeals court judge in Washington, DC,  has said his work on the Oklahoma City case was the most important

  • Oklahoma, state's delegation urge high court to rule for church preschool

    By Chris Casteel Washington Bureau ccasteel@oklahoman.com | Published: Sat, Apr 23, 2016

    Oklahoma and three members of the state's congressional delegation are urging the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that Missouri wrongly denied taxpayer funding to a church-run preschool.

  • Software licensing costs draw lawmakers' scrutiny

    By Chris Casteel Washington Bureau ccasteel@oklahoman.com | Published: Thu, Apr 21, 2016

    Rep. Steve Russell is teaming up with Democrats in the House and Senate to force federal agencies to stop wasting money on software licenses — a seemingly minor thing that actually adds up to hundreds of millions of dollars.

  • Federal judicial nominees sail through committee hearing

    By Chris Casteel Washington Bureau ccasteel@oklahoman.com | Published: Thu, Apr 21, 2016

    WASHINGTON — Backed by both Oklahoma senators, Suzanne Mitchell and Scott Palk sailed through a hearing Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee on their nominations to be federal judges for the western half of the state. Mitchell, now a U.S. magistrate judge in Oklahoma City, and Palk, an assistant dean at the University of Oklahoma law school, answered questions about legal issues and their professional experience. The two, who were nominated by President Barack Obama in December to fill two vacancies in Oklahoma's western district, were part of a panel of five U.S. district court nominees — all of whom are noncontroversial and would likely be confirmed quickly in a nonpresidential election year. Sen.

  • Supreme Court nominee fight ramps up

    By Chris Casteel Washington Bureau ccasteel@oklahoman.com | Published: Tue, Apr 19, 2016

    The Oklahoma City bombing anniversary was invoked to push for consideration of Merrick Garland, who coordinated the federal investigation.

  • Oklahoma City bombing anniversary invoked in fight over court nominee

    Chris Casteel | Updated: Tue, Apr 19, 2016

    WASHINGTON _ Senate Democrats used the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing on Tuesday to push for consideration of Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, prompting an angry response from Sen. James Lankford. In speeches on the Senate floor, four Democrats talked about the bombing and then praised the work of Garland, who coordinated the investigation of the 1995 bombing and the prosecution of Timothy McVeigh. Garland, who worked then for the Justice Department, is a federal appeals court judge now and President Barack Obama's selection to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Sen.

  • Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford plans meeting with Supreme Court nominee

    By Chris Casteel Washington Bureau ccasteel@oklahoman.com | Published: Tue, Apr 19, 2016

    Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, has agreed to meet April 27 with Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland. Lankford opposes holding hearings or a confirmation vote this year and feels the next president should make the selection.

  • Steve Russell's campaign debt exceeds cash

    By Chris Casteel Washington Bureau ccasteel@oklahoman.com | Published: Mon, Apr 18, 2016

    U.S. Rep. Steve Russell, R-Choctaw, had $127,118 left in debt from his 2014 race and $114,161 in his campaign account at the end of March, according to his latest Federal Election Commission campaign finance report.

  • Lankford to meet with Supreme Court nominee Garland next week

    Chris Casteel | Updated: Mon, Apr 18, 2016

    WASHINGTON _ Sen. James Lankford, who has been adamant that the Senate should not vote to confirm a U.S. Supreme Court justice until the next president is in office, has agreed to meet next week with court nominee Merrick Garland. Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, and the White House agreed Monday morning for an April 27 meeting after weeks of trying to find a mutually convenient time. A Lankford aide said there was a slight chance the meeting could be rescheduled. Many Republicans have refused even to meet with Garland, who was nominated by President Barack Obama in March to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the court. However, Lankford and Sen.

  • U.S. Supreme Court to hear arguments in immigration case

    By Chris Casteel Washington Bureau ccasteel@oklahoman.com | Published: Sun, Apr 17, 2016

    The case, originally filed by Texas, Oklahoma and 24 other states, stems from action taken by President Barack Obama in 2014 to defer the deportation of an estimated four million illegal immigrants.

  • The Anita Hill hearings: links and a look back

    Chris Casteel | Updated: Thu, Apr 14, 2016

    For many years, when people asked me to name the most interesting story I have covered since coming to Washington (in early 1990), I answered without hesitation that it was the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings of 1991. I spent almost every minute in the Senate Caucus Room on that extraordinary long weekend. In the photo below, that's me,  behind the witness, with my head down, writing. Unlike most scripted hearings on Capitol Hill, you never knew what was going to happen next. There was no precedent.

  • U.S. House committee approves funding for military bases in Oklahoma

    By Chris Casteel Washington Bureau ccasteel@oklahoman.com | Published: Thu, Apr 14, 2016

    A House committee approved almost $77 million for construction at military facilities in Oklahoma under a spending bill passed Wednesday.

  • Two Oklahoma lawmakers call for end to subsidized rural flights

    By Chris Casteel Washington Bureau ccasteel@oklahoman.com | Published: Thu, Apr 14, 2016

    Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, and Rep. Steve Russell, R-Choctaw, called Wednesday for an end to a federal program they say wastes $275 million a year. The Essential Air Service subsidizes air travel to small rural communities.





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