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Photo: Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty Images

Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) has apologized to Black Oklahomans for challenging Joe Biden's Electoral College victory, saying he did not realize his actions would be seen as "casting doubt on the validity of votes" in predominantly Black cities like Atlanta, Philadelphia and Detroit.

The big picture: Lankford was part of a group of 11 senators, led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who planned to object to the Electoral College certification unless Congress launched a commission to audit the election results. He later withdrew his objection after the pro-Trump siege of the Capitol.

Between the lines: "Lankford has been more involved with Black Tulsans, and particularly the historic Greenwood District, than any statewide Republican officeholder in decades," Tulsa World writes.

  • However, after Lankford's comments on the Senate floor, several state Black leaders said he should be removed from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission, which is dedicated to educating communities about the massacre that killed 300 people.
  • Other Republicans involved in the election challenges, including Cruz and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) have faced massive backlash.

What they're saying: "My action of asking for more election information caused a firestorm of suspicion among many of my friends, particularly in Black communities around the state," Lankford wrote in a letter addressed to "my friends in North Tulsa."

  • "I can assure you, my intent to give a voice to Oklahomans who had questions was never also an intent to diminish the voice of any Black American," he continued.
  • "I should have recognized how what I said and what I did could be interpreted by many of you. I deeply regret my blindness to that perception, and for that I am sorry."

Go deeper: GOP Sen. Josh Hawley under fire after Electoral College challenge

Go deeper

Senate Mischief Makers

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

In a closely divided Congress, the Senate’s Mischief Makers could thwart their leaders' best-laid plans with their own agendas.

Why it matters: On Wednesday night, we shared a list of House members who our leadership sources on the Hill consider some of the top troublemakers. But their Senate counterparts may be even more impactful in a 50-50 chamber, where Vice President Kamala Harris holds the tiebreaking vote.

Home confinees face imminent return to prison

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Thousands of prisoners who've been in home confinement for as long as a year because of the pandemic face returning to prison when it's over — unless President Biden rescinds a last-minute Trump Justice Department memo.

Why it matters: Most prisoners were told they would not have to come back as they were released early with ankle bracelets. Now, their lives are on hold while they wait to see whether or when they may be forced back behind bars. Advocates say about 4,500 people are affected.

The "essential" committee that still doesn't exist

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

Nearly five months after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced the creation of the bipartisan Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth, it's not been formed much less met.

Why it matters: Select committees are designed to address urgent matters, but the 117th Congress is now nearly one-quarter complete without this panel assembling. When she announced this committee, Pelosi described it as an "essential force" to "combat the crisis of income and wealth disparity in America."