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Lankford Supports Spending Bills Ahead of November Government Funding Deadline

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today voted in favor of a “minibus” spending bill that includes funding for three of the 12 appropriations bills: Military Construction-Veterans Affairs (Milcon-VA), Agriculture-Food & Drug Administration, and Transportation-Housing and Urban Development.

“I am glad the Senate is finally voting on appropriations bills with amendments and input from Senators,” said Lankford. “This bill is not perfect, but we have had time to read, amend, and consider them, so that is an improvement for the American people. The bill contains numerous wins for Oklahomans who rely on the federal programs including construction and upkeep of military bases and veterans facilities, necessary improvements to our interstates and ports, food programs for schools, and more. We should continue to pursue an open process for the remaining spending bills that focuses on funding programs Americans rely on without overspending, waste, or duplication.”

Lankford offered his Prevent Government Shutdowns Act as an amendment to the bill, but it came up just short of the required 60 votes on the Senate floor despite receiving bipartisan support.

Highlights of some of the provisions that help Oklahomans include:

Agriculture-Food and Drug Administration:

  • Funding ag research that would positively impact our land grant universities, including Langston University, Oklahoma State University, and Northeastern State University in Muskogee
  • Ensuring oversight and proper management of the Summer Food Service Program including requirements to report the number of Summer Food Service Program grantees, the States in which they operate, the innovative methods of food delivery by non-congregate means and in non-congregate settings, and the number of additional youth served as a result
  • Helping eliminate fraud in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) including encouraging the food nutrition service at USDA to improve their analysis across multiple systems to prevent fraud and make the SNAP system more efficient
  • Increases funding for watershed and flood prevention operations—Oklahoma has over 2,000 dams and watersheds, more than any other state in the nation
  • Funding for the rural utility service, which helps with utility infrastructure in rural parts of our state

Transportation

  • Funding for air traffic control hiring that assists Oklahoma City’s Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center
  • Funding for the contract tower program, which benefits rural and urban aviation in our state

Military Construction-Veterans Affairs

  • $78 million for the KC-46 3-Bay Depot Maintenance Hangar at Tinker AFB
  • $8.4 million for Undergraduate Pilot Training Center: Planning and Design at Vance AFB
  • $76 million Fort Sill Microgrid and Backup Power
  • Funding for ongoing construction at the Tulsa VA Medical Center
  • Recognizes officially the value of agile common hangars, which may provide more capacity and capability than traditional facilities with an example that at Tinker Air Force Base, agile common hangars could support both the legacy B–52 and the forthcoming B–21, replacing multiple facilities that would otherwise need to be built for each platform. This would ultimately lead to time and cost savings and provide flexibility for future programs
  • Encourages the VA to coordinate with state cemeteries to update forms to ensure cemeteries are being reimbursed for assisting with unclaimed veteran burials
  • Recognizes the crucial role of county, Tribal and equivalent governmental Veterans Service Officers in ensuring veterans receive the benefits and care they deserve and encourages to support county, Tribal governmental Veterans Service Officers in their assistance to the Nation’s veterans
  • Encourages the Department to track what benefits veterans are filing for by county. The goal of such collaboration should be to improve services to all veterans, to proactively identify barriers to delivering high quality care, ensuring veterans who need assistance are able to access support, and to share data and observations that indicate substandard quality of care
  • Encourages third-party administrators partnering with the VA to process veteran health claims to possess a congressional liaison to ensure oversight and communication among congressional offices and caseworkers

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