The Slatest

Incoming GOP Senator Says House Leadership Violating “Pledge to America”

 U.S. Rep. James Lankford (R-OK).

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Some conservatives are charging that a defense bill—up for a vote Thursday afternoon—breaks Republicans’ 2010 “Pledge to America.”

That’s because the National Defense Authorization Act, which authorizes two years of continued support for the Syrian rebels and continued military involvement in Iraq, includes a lands exchange package that has nothing to do with national defense. Within that package is a provision for a Women’s History Museum, as well as an expansion of federal lands. In negotiations between the House and Senate, per a report in, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) also got a provision added to designate Harriet Tubman’s former homes as national parks.


Some conservatives say this violates Republicans’ 2010 “Pledge to America.” Part of that pledge reads, “We will end the practice of packaging unpopular bills with ‘must-pass’ legislation to circumvent the will of the American people. Instead, we will advance major legislation one issue at a time.”


Does adding the lands package to the NDAA violate that promise? Rep. James Lankford, Oklahoma’s next Senator-elect, said it does, and that the move is hypocritical.

“It’s just ridiculous,” he said.

When I asked if he thought it was a violation of the 2010 pledge, he said, “Yes. It is.”

Dan Holler, a spokesman for Heritage Action, agreed.

“Inserting a massive land grab into the NDAA is the type of governing Republicans pledged to avoid during their 2010 campaign,” he said. “This is the type of behavior we’d expect from Nancy Pelosi, not lawmakers who owe their majority to motivated conservatives all across the country.”

A House leadership aide spoke on background to defend the move, saying that the lands bills have bipartisan support in the House, and that the provisions added to the NDAA are not “major legislation.” Thus, he said, the move doesn’t break the pledge.