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Lankford Supports Annual Defense Bill Prioritizing Service Members and National Security

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today supported the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference report. Lankford worked to secure a number of provisions to continue or enhance the missions of our Oklahoma military installations and a number of important policy provisions that benefit our nation and our national defense in the long-term. This year’s defense bill includes a provision on which Lankford has worked for almost a decade, the Taxpayers Right-to-Know Act, which requires the federal government to publicize the details, costs, and performance metrics of government all programs. This legislation, which would increase transparency and curb wasteful spending, unanimously passed the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee last year.

“Our nation’s service members and national security are well-supported by this vital legislation. Our military personnel and military communities serve our nation and Senator Inhofe has done an excellent job to serve them by prioritizing their needs this year, “said Lankford. “With this critical legislation, Oklahoma’s military installations will have what they need to continue defending our nation.”

The NDAA included a number of important provisions that help Oklahoma military installations and the federal workforce, including:

  • A three percent raise for all service members.
  • Tinker Air Force Base:
    • Provides full funding for the B-21 Raider program as well as the first year of procurement dollars. It also funds procurement of 15 KC-46s. 
    • Encourages the use of additive manufacturing capabilities to repair aircraft more quickly.
  • Altus Air Force Base:
    • Funds procurement of 15 KC-46s. Altus AFB is set to receive eight aircraft. It currently has six of the eight aircrafts.
    • Prohibits the Air Force from divesting older KC-10 and KC-135 tankers until technical issues with the new KC-46 are fixed
  • Vance Air Force Base:
    • Fully funds research and development of the Air Force’s next generation of advanced pilot training aircraft, the T-7 Red Hawk. The T-7 will replace the aging T-38 Talon training aircraft at Vance Air Force Base
    • Authorizes funding for T-38 upgrades to ensure the safety of T-38 pilots until the T-7 is fully fielded
  • McAlester Army Ammunition Plant:
    • Authorizes full military construction funding ($35 million) for the Ammunition Demolition Shop
  • Lawton and Ft. Sill:
    • Fully funds the Paladin Integrated Management (PIM) program. This will serve as the platform for future Army modernization projects that will allow the US to maintain an advantage over our strategic competitors like China and Russia
  • Will Rogers—Oklahoma National Guard:
    • Protects the 137th Special Operations Wing by prohibiting divestiture of manned intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance aircraft operated by US Special Operations Command, which includes the MC-12 at Will Rogers. 
    • Authorizes military construction funding for a maintenance facility at the Ardmore Readiness Center

Additional provisions secured in today’s defense bill that have been priorities for Lankford include:

  • Religious freedom for all service members in the Training on Religious Accommodation. Three years ago, the NDAA included language that every branch of the military must implement training on federal laws, DoD instructions, and regulations of each military branch regarding religious liberty and accommodation for service members. This language implements the required religious liberty training for military leaders and service members in every branch
  • Temporary authority to waive of the 180-day waiting period for military retirees. This would establish a three year temporary authority to waive the 180-day waiting period that a military retiree must wait until he or she can enter a civilian job at the Department of Defense (DoD). The positions included in this temporary authority are: positions at or below GS-13, located at a Defense depot, arsenal, shipyard, or plant located within the United States, and the Secretary has certified the position as one that lacks sufficient numbers of potential applicants. After two years the Secretary of Defense is required to submit a report to Congress on the use of this authority, and the need for this temporary authority to be made permanent. This has been an ongoing issue that at numerous bases across the US, including Oklahoma Lankford has worked to resolve. Depots have expressed how the rule has caused them to lose good people to the defense industry versus retaining valuable talent.
  • Telework for US Innovation Act –Based on Lankford’s S. 4138, Telework for US Innovation Act, which makes permanent the authority of the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to conduct a model telework travel expenses program. The program allows USPTO employees to telework from locations across the US, including Oklahoma. 
  • FAA Paid Parental Leave Technical Corrections—Makes technical corrections to the Paid Parental Leave benefit provided through the FY20 NDAA to ensure that Federal Aviation Administration, Transportation Security Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs, and other civilian employees inadvertently omitted from the legislation receive the same 12 weeks of paid parental leave as provided to other federal employees.