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.

  • Majority of Oklahoma's lawmakers in Washington own $1 million or more in assets

    By Chris Casteel Washington Bureau | Published: Sun, Aug 30, 2015

    The annual financial disclosure reports required of members of Congress and top staff members show assets and liabilities only in very broad ranges of value. The reports aren't designed to show a lawmaker's net worth; instead, they allow the public to examine assets and transactions for possible conflicts of interest

  • Oklahoma City traffic congestion takes toll on commuters, study says

    By Chris Casteel Washington Bureau | Updated: Thu, Aug 27, 2015

    Traffic congestion in the Oklahoma City area last year cost commuters 49 hours of their lives, 23 gallons of gas and more than $1,100, according to the 2015 Urban Mobility Scorecard released Wednesday.

  • Federal deficit to be lowest since 2007, budget office says

    By Chris Casteel Washington Bureau ccasteel@oklahoman | Published: Wed, Aug 26, 2015

    The annual budget deficit will be the lowest since 2007, but the federal government's spending and accumulated debt are still heading to dangerous levels, the Congressional Budget Office reported Tuesday.

  • Air Force officials hope to avoid personnel cuts amid budget uncertainty

    By Chris Casteel Washington Bureau | Published: Tue, Aug 25, 2015

    Top officials expressed hopes the Air Force will be able to avoid personnel cuts with a budget not approved yet by Congress. Also, Gen. Mark Welsh, the Air Force chief of staff, said its imperative that the Air Force modernize its aging aircraft fleets.

  • Kerry says deal will keep Iran from getting weapon

    By Chris Casteel Washington Bureau | Published: Tue, Aug 11, 2015

    WASHINGTON — The deal reached with Iran is the only way to keep that country from developing nuclear weapons and avoid military action, Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday. “If you think Iran is the worst country in the world — a lot of people do — then you don’t want them to have a nuclear weapon,” Kerry told reporters. “You’re better off with the deal.” Kerry and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, who represented the United States in negotiations with Iran and other countries, are now working to persuade key members of Congress to support the deal ahead of an expected vote in mid-September. Some of the reporters at Monday’s briefing work for newspapers in states with Democratic lawmakers who are still

  • Oklahoma's Senator Lankford candidly talks Israel, abortion and Social Security

    By Chris Casteel Washington Bureau | Updated: Mon, Aug 10, 2015

    Sen. James Lankford has been vocal in the highly visible debate about Planned Parenthood, although he usually spends his time in Washington on more wonkish topics.

  • Lankford: Getting contraceptives not a problem in America

    Chris Casteel | Updated: Fri, Aug 7, 2015

    WASHINGTON _ U.S. Sen. James Lankford sat down in his Capitol Hill office this week for an interview with The Oklahoman that covered abortion, the Iran nuclear deal, his reelection plans and his work on the Social Security Disability program. The full interview will appear Sunday in The Oklahoman. In this excerpt, Lankford responds to questions about the potential impact of his efforts to defund Planned Parenthood and provide more religious exemptions from the contraception mandate. Q: You authored a bill defunding Planned Parenthood and now you’ve written legislation that would further broaden the exemptions from the contraception mandate (in the Affordable Care Act).

  • Lankford aims to link pot, tribes’ funds

    By Chris Casteel Washington Bureau | Published: Thu, Aug 6, 2015

    Sen. James Lankford proposed Thursday that Indian tribes cultivating or selling marijuana on their lands be stripped of federal funds.

  • Senate blocks Lankford's bill to defund Planned Parenthood

    By Chris Casteel Washington Bureau | Updated: Mon, Aug 3, 2015

    Oklahoma Sen. Jim Lankford's bill to defund Planned Parenthood was blocked Monday after Democrats said Republicans were trying to deny critical health care to millions of women. The bill needed at least 60 votes to advance in the U.S. Senate and received 53.

  • Carbon rule gives states leeway to meet climate change goal, EPA chief says

    Chris Casteel | Updated: Sun, Aug 2, 2015

    WASHINGTON _ The Obama administration's final rule for reducing carbon emissions at power plants across the nation will be released on Monday and will give states wide latitude to adopt an energy mix and efficiency measures, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency said Sunday. All of the state-specific standards are "reasonable and achievable," EPA administrator Gina McCarthy told reporters on a conference call. "They’re all entirely doable and (implementing them) will not affect reliability or affordability." The specific state targets are expected to be released on Monday. A White House official said Sunday that the rule represents "the single biggest step any president has made to curb carbon

  • Oklahoma's Cole talks Trump, Iran, Planned Parenthood and Confederate flag flap

    By Chris Casteel Washington Bureau | Published: Sun, Aug 2, 2015

    The longtime GOP lawmaker from Moore discusses gridlock in Congress and how efforts to unseat House Speaker Boehner are a distraction from what he sees as the real work at hand to help Oklahomans.

  • Highway bill clears Senate hurdle

    By Chris Casteel Washington Bureau | Updated: Fri, Jul 31, 2015

    A $350 billion measure that would provide Oklahoma with $4.2 billion in funding cleared the Senate on Thursday.

  • 3 Oklahoma lawmakers' legislation targets Planned Parenthood funding

    By Chris Casteel Washington Bureau | Updated: Thu, Jul 30, 2015

    Sen. Jim Inhofe of Tulsa calls for an investigation of Planned Parenthood amid a controversy over secretly taped conversations about fetal tissue.

  • Senate clears Inhofe's long-term highway bill

    Chris Casteel | Updated: Thu, Jul 30, 2015

    WASHINGTON _ The U.S. Senate easily passed a six-year highway bill on Thursday that promises a huge boost in road and bridge funding for Oklahoma. The bill, co-authored by Sen. Jim Inhofe, passed 65-34 , but it faces an uncertain future. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and other House GOP leaders have criticized the measure and left town Wednesday for a vacation that will last until Sept. 8. Inhofe, R-Tulsa, said Thursday that the bill "provides growth in highway and transit programs to each state." Over the six years of the legislation, Oklahoma would receive an estimated $4.2 billion. The state would get $657 million in the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. That compares to $612 million in fiscal year 2014.

  • Despite Inhofe's efforts, House delays vote on highway proposal

    By Chris Casteel Washington Bureau | Updated: Tue, Jul 28, 2015

    Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, tried Tuesday to pressure the House to stay in Washington and consider his six-year highway bill, but GOP leaders opted to start their vacation this week. The Senate is expected to pass Inhofe’s bill by Thursday at the latest.

  • D.C. Notes

    By Chris Casteel Washington Bureau | Published: Sun, Jul 26, 2015

    Chris Casteel: D.C. Notes for Sunday, July 26, 2015.

  • U.S. House panel advances bill to name Del City post office after former OU All-American

    By Chris Casteel Washington Bureau | Published: Thu, Jul 23, 2015

    The U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee advanced a measure to name a Del City post office after former University of Oklahoma All-American football player James Robert Kalsu. The measure now goes to the full House for a vote. Kalsu played his rookie season, 1968, for the Buffalo Bills. He fulfilled his ROTC commitment and was killed in South Vietnam in 1970.

  • Inhofe bill would allow school districts to not charge more for lunches

    By Chris Casteel Washington Bureau | Published: Wed, Jul 22, 2015

    Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe introduced legislation Wednesday to shield schools from mandatory increases in lunch prices. He says such federally mandated price increases are hurting families already under financial strain, preventing some children from getting a healthy meal.

  • Inhofe's highway bill hits Senate roadblock

    By Chris Casteel Washington Bureau | Updated: Tue, Jul 21, 2015

    Sen. Jim Inhofe's highway bill hit a roadblock Tuesday as senators balked at taking up the 1,000-page bill before studying details. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he may bring up the bill again Wednesday.

  • D.C. Notes:U.S. Rep. Steve Russell's campaign debt exceeds cash

    By Chris Casteel Washington Bureau | Published: Sun, Jul 19, 2015

    Chris Casteel: U.S. Rep. Tom Cole has words about Confederate flag wavers, and U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe sets goals on improving nation's roads.