Lankford: We Must Prioritize Service Members and National Security

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today issued a statement after the Senate voted to enact the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law:  

“I agree with President Trump that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act needs major reforms and it must be dealt with immediately. The Senate has held hearings in the past month and has brought up legislation to provide more accountability to the social media companies. But, if the NDAA fails, essential military updates and strategic changes will not move forward. We can do both.  

“There’s a reason that the defense bill has passed every year for nearly six decades—it provides critical authorization and resources not just for our service members, but also for the national security of the United States. If this bill did not become law, many programs would not be authorized—putting our service men and women in uniform and our national security at risk. The annual NDAA also includes multiple other items that are connected to government efficiency, government operations and homeland security.  

“It is vital to ensure our military has the resources they need to train, develop, and equip service members, enhance technology, and ensure we have state-of-the art equipment that is necessary to defend our nation. This crucial bill ensures all members of the military receive a raise, as well as, safeguarding our military including Oklahoma’s five military bases, which all play a crucial role in our nation’s overall national defense.”

Specifically, if NDAA was not enacted into law it: 

  • Would not provide critical programs for military families including spouse employment, child care, education, and housing. 
  • Would prevent the Department of Defense from providing quality health care to service members, their families, and retirees. 
  • Would slow the long-term strategic strategy of protecting our nation against China and Russia.
  • Would delay our nation’s quest to continue to build US Space Force to optimize US interest in space. 
  • Would weaken the ability to continue to strengthen US cybersecurity.
  • Would diminish military readiness by preventing services from updating and improving platforms and programs to meet new demands and respond to new threats .
  • Will Rogers Oklahoma National Guard 137th Special Wing Operations would be negatively impacted by the divesture of the MC-12.
  • Military housing office positions would be left unfilled projects leaving many military families without proper supervision of privatized housing.
  • Important measures to counter Chinese aggression would not be implemented such as the Pacific Deterrence Initiative, public reporting in the Federal Register of Chinese military companies operating in the US, prohibition of commercial exports of covered defense articles and services and covered munitions items to the Hong Kong Police, and protection of defense-sensitive intellectual property, data, and technology from purchase by the Chinese.
  • Some members of the military would have their pay frozen, denying them the raise that has already been appropriated. 
  • Sanctions on Turkey would not be enacted and Turkey could continue to manufacture vital US fighter jet technology while also purchasing Russia’s S-400 air defense system.
  • Would not provide religious freedom training for all service members.  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.

  • Would not give authority to waive 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 qualified and needed experts people to the defense industry versus retaining valuable talent. 
  • Would not provide paid parental leave 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.