Senator Lankford Applauds Senate Passage of First Appropriations Bills

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) applauded Senate passage, by a vote of 86-5, of the Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act (H.R. 5895), which included several highlights for Oklahoma and Lankford’s focus on government reform and efficiency.    

“I’m pleased that the Senate has passed its first three of twelve Appropriations bills for this Fiscal Year,” said Lankford. “To avoid another omnibus disaster, we must be diligent about getting these done. This start is hopefully a return to regular order and a better appropriations process that actually works to fund our government and makes needed reforms through budgeting.” 

Lankford serves on the Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform, which is a bi-partisan, bi-cameral panel tasked with proposing a set of solutions to significantly overhaul the budget and appropriations process for the better.

Lankford continued, “I’m particularly excited about the funding for important veterans projects including the construction and renovation at the Oklahoma City VA Medical Center. In addition, the simulator and depot maintenance for the KC-46A Tanker at the Altus Air Force Base is a major development, not only for our Air Force, but also for Oklahoma and the Altus area. These are necessary for Oklahoma to receive the tanker in Altus later this year.”

The Military Construction bill appropriates $10.3 billion to fund 169 military construction projects in total. The Veterans bill appropriates $86.4 billion in discretionary funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs, an increase of $5 billion above the FY2018 level.  The Legislative Branch bill appropriates $4.790 billion ($187 million less than the FY2019 budget request) for vital Capitol security functions, and operations for Legislative Branch offices, such as the Government Accountability Office and Congressional Budget Office. It also provides the Army Corps of Engineers with $6.9 billion to maintain our ports, waterways, and recreation areas.

Within the Appropriations Committee, Senator Lankford serves as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, and he serves on the following Subcommittees: Energy and Water; Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies; Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies; State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs; and Homeland Security.

Bill Highlights:

  • KC-46A Tanker at Altus AFB – Appropriates funding for the simulator facility and depot maintenance for the KC-46A tanker at Altus Air Force Base and maintained at Tinker Air Force Base. Aircraft are scheduled for delivery to Altus Air Force Base later this year.
  • Oklahoma City VA Medical Center – Appropriates funding for the construction and renovation of a new Surgical Intensive Care Unit and at the Oklahoma City VA Medical Center, providing veterans in the Oklahoma City market better access to high-quality, reliable surgical care.
  • Efficiency Review of Army Corps of Engineers – Requested by Lankford to direct the Army Corp of Engineers to perform an assessment of their properties to determine which properties are essential to their mission and which are not.
  • Efficiency Review of National Nuclear Security Administration – Requested by Lankford to direct the National Nuclear Security Administration to evaluate the cause of cost and timeline overruns for projects costing more than $750,000, in order to prevent such instances in the future.
  • Planning Assistance to States – Requested by Lankford to appropriate Army Corps of Engineer funding that assists states to evaluate their long-term water resources needs in an effort to prevent or mitigate future disasters.
  • VA Medical Care – Appropriates $78.3 billion to support medical treatment and healthcare for approximately 9.3 million enrolled patients in FY2019, including $8.6 billion for mental health; $860.8 million for the Caregivers Program; $400 million for opioid misuse prevention and treatment; $779 million for medical and prosthetic research; $525 million for health care specifically for women veterans; and $270 million for rural health initiatives.
  • Military Medical Facilities – Appropriates $366 million for construction or alteration of military medical facilities. This funding will allow for continued support and care for 9.8 million eligible beneficiaries, including wounded US troops abroad.
  • Congressional Pay Freeze – The bill continues a provision to freeze the pay of Members of Congress, preventing any pay increases in FY2019. A freeze on Members’ salaries has been in place since 2009.