Lankford: The tragedy 21 years ago suddenly became paraded out here as a political prop
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) Tuesday delivered a speech on the Senate floor about the Anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, and the politicization of the Anniversary by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) in the debate over the Supreme Court Justice nomination process.
…since February, Republicans have been very consistent, myself included, to say this is not the time to have a Supreme Court Justice go through the nomination process. In the hours after Justice Scalia passed away, we made it very clear that any nominee that went through the process, regardless of who they were, would know in advance, you will not move to a hearing, because it is not the right time.
But we hit a new low today, on this floor Mr. President. And I had to come and address it. Because today, this moved from a conversation about is this the right time and is this the right person to drawing in the memory of 168 lives that were lost in Oklahoma City 21 years ago today. April the 19th, 1995, the worst act of terrorism at that time on American soil, carried out by another American, killing 168 people at the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.
Our state and our city was overwhelmed with the compassion of people around the country as we saw what happened and Merrick Garland was one of those. We are grateful as a community for what he did in the prosecution of Timothy McVeigh and what he did against Terry Nichols and what did against Michael Fortier. We are grateful for his work there.
Today, on this floor of this Senate, the implication was laid out two-fold. One is, since Judge Garland served the country and did that, he deserves something else. I have never met Judge Garland. I’ll meet him next week and, quite frankly, look him in the face and say, thank you for your service to Oklahoma, and to make it clear again, the same position we’ve been in before he ever started the process, there will be no nomination this year. He does deserve our gratitude, but he doesn’t deserve a lifetime appointment onto the bench because of his faithful service to our country and community, as is being alluded to.
The politics of it really, really deeply struck me as an Oklahoman that for some reason today, of all days, the tragedy that happened of 168 people and their death 21 years ago suddenly became paraded out here as a political prop. One of the senators even standing with a picture of a dead child behind him, like she is a prop. This child is not a prop for politics. She has a name. She was identified as a toddler. She was one year and one day old. She was killed in the Murrah Building a day after her one-year birthday. She’s not some random toddler, her name is Baylee. And she is not to be used as a prop for politics in the Supreme Court nomination process.
It is absolutely fair game to talk about the record of Judge Garland and what he has done. We are grateful, as Oklahomans, for his service to our state and to our nation to put away those awful terrorists. But to use a child that was killed in the Murrah Building bombing as a prop so far exceeds the line that I had to come and speak about it and say, I’m absolutely offended, and I should be.
Twenty-one years ago today we remember. It is the statement that comes up to Oklahomans over and over again. We remember. We remember the victims. We remember the survivors. We remember the first responders. We remember the thousands of people who came from across the country to help us. We remember, and we will continue to remember, but don’t do politics with the life and death of children and adults in Oklahoma City. Let’s keep this where it should be. We can have the debate about process. Do not draw this in. With that Mr. President, I yield back.