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Cole Applauds Passage of FY 2020 NDAA Conference Report

December 11, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04), a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, released the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Conference Report for the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020. The bipartisan, bicameral legislation authorizes funding for the nation’s military retirees, families, personnel, as well as for programs that improve readiness, capability and operations. The conference report includes provisions of great importance to Tinker Air Force Base in Midwest City and Fort Sill Army Post in Lawton, which are both located in the Fourth District of Oklahoma. Cole voted in support of the legislation.

The conference report includes total funding of $738 billion in base and overseas contingency operations (OCO), along with $5.3 billion for disaster recovery. It supports the largest pay increase in a decade for service members at 3.1 percent, sets in motion repeal of the Widow’s Tax and addresses other key quality of life initiatives and improvements for military and civilian workers. It also creates Space Force as the sixth branch of the United States Armed Forces.

“I am encouraged that the final National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 reflects the same bipartisan commitment to our common defense as it has for almost 60 years,” said Cole. “This legislation not only provides critical solutions to restore readiness and promote modernization but also ensures our military can respond to threats around the world today. The NDAA advocates for and supports the individuals who make every mission possible. In getting to this point, I applaud the leadership of Oklahoma’s own Senator Jim Inhofe, who as Chairman of the Senate Armed Service Committee fiercely fought for the interests and needs of the nation’s active duty service members, military families, retirees and civilian workers.

“It’s important to remember that approval of this comprehensive defense bill marks the first pivotal step toward delivering on the resources, reforms and benefits contained in the NDAA. In the days ahead, both chambers of Congress must also come together to pass the Defense Appropriations bill to fund the critical programs and policies outlined in this legislation. I am hopeful that we will do just that.”

Notable Provisions Related to the Fourth District of Oklahoma

Housing contractor mismanagement at military installations across the country, including at Tinker Air Force Base, is addressed in the conference report. Specifically, the legislation reforms the Privatized Military Housing Initiative to combat poor conditions in military family housing and includes a new Tenant Bill of Rights for military families living in any privatized housing on base.

The conference report provides direct hiring authority until 2025, enabling the Department of Defense to more quickly and easily hire civilian personnel in key areas, such as defense industrial facilities like Tinker Air Force Base, as well as major range and test facilities.

The report supports the success of the Army’s Futures Command and the two Cross Functional Teams at Fort Sill. This includes authorized funding for Long Range Precision Fires Technology and Air and Missile Defense. The report also authorizes military construction funding for Fort Sill to undergo the second phase of its Advanced Individual Training Barracks Complex project.

As the Department of Defense (DOD) seeks to implement comprehensive reform of the existing military health care system (TRICARE), the conference report demands DOD’s completion of internal review and prohibits any changes that could limit access to care for service members, families and retirees.