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Senator Lankford Supports Defense Priorities

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today voted in favor of the Conference Report on the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (FY20 NDAA). The bill, which received bipartisan support, was ushered through final passage by Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee. The bill includes limitations on the transfer of the F-35 aircraft to Turkey—a bill that Lankford introduced earlier this year. The Conference Report passed the Senate in a vote of 86 to 8 and now heads to the President’s desk for his signature.

“Every year, Congress must vote for the basic guidelines for our military, military construction, family support, and all other aspects of our national defense strategy. The NDAA is essential year-end legislation for our nation and the women and men who stand up for our freedom every day,” said Lankford.

“This bill adjusts, eliminates, or includes more than 1,500 provisions in law that help our Armed Forces, veterans, and their families. The bill helps our defense and veteran communities better navigate issues for current service members and Guardsmen and women, those transitioning from active duty to civilian life, and those receiving care and benefits during retirement. I applaud Chairman Inhofe’s tenacity along with Senator Reed to bring this important bill to the finish line. We owe our men and women in uniform the clarity this bill brings so they can continue to faithfully serve our nation both at home and abroad.

“The bill contains a number of priorities I’ve pushed for on behalf of our defense and international relations communities including limitations on F-35 transfers to Turkey following Turkey’s acquisition of the Russian S-400 missile system, a pay raise for service members, updates to ensure military chaplains can continue to serve past general military retirement age, and many others. I look forward to the President’s signature of this bill to implement these and other important changes for our Armed Forces, veterans, and their families.”

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

  • A 3.1 percent raise for all service members, the largest pay raise in nearly a decade.
  • Limitations on the transfer of F–35 aircraft to Turkey, which Lankford introduced earlier this year.
  • Permanent authority to defer past age 64 (until 68) the retirement of chaplains in general and flag officer grades.
  • $2.2 billion for 12 KC-46A refueling tankers connected to the missions of both Altus and Tinker Air Force Bases.
  • Authorization for the T-X program, which positively impacts Vance Air Force Base.
  • Improvements to military family housing to address facility issues like the ones reported at Tinker Air Force Base and hold housing contractors accountable.
  • Language from Lankford’s Reserve Component DD-214 Act of 2019, which will ensure that members of the National Guard and Reserve receive an accurate and complete record of their service so that they can receive the benefits they have earned following their retirement or completion of service.
  • Continuation of the Paladin Integrated Management system upgrade program, which directly impacts the mission at Ft. Sill.
  • Authorization of funding for the second phase of the training barracks at Ft. Sill, fulfilling the President’s request.
  • Authorization of funding for the Fuels Storage Complex at the Tulsa International Airport, which will enhance the capabilities of the 138th Fighter Wing of the Air National Guard.
  • Language to enhance DOD’s use of direct-hire authority in last year’s NDAA, which will positively impact Tinker and the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant.
  • Authorization for DOD to enter into a cooperative agreement with the Council of State Governments to assist with the funding and development of interstate compacts on licenses for military spouses.
  • Extension of the ability of DOD to reimburse spouses for licensure and certification costs by two years.
  • Allowance for Guard and Reservists to choose to use TRICARE Reserve Select instead of FEHB even if they are in a non-active status and are working as civilians in the federal government.
  • Language from Lankford’s bill, S. 2169, which clarifies federal agencies’ authority to directly hire recent graduates to full-time positions.

Lankford also joined a bipartisan group of Senators to introduce the Protect Veterans’ Education and Taxpayer Spending (Protect VETS) Act of 2019. The Protect VETS Act is the first bipartisan bill introduced in the Senate that would protect military and veteran students by closing the 90/10 loophole and requiring for-profit schools to secure at least 10 percent of their revenues from sources other than taxpayers.