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Cole Supports National Defense Authorization Act for FY16

May 15, 2015
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1735, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2016. The bill authorizes funding for our nation’s military personnel, readiness and operations. In accordance with the FY16 joint budget resolution, the authorization for national defense is $611.8 billion with $89.3 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO).

Each year, the passage of NDAA ensures that the military is trained and equipped with the best resources to defend the United States. In this year’s bill, that includes equipment and cyber technology updates to adequately monitor and respond to threats wherever they arise. In addition, the legislation rescinds executive authority for unilateral transfer of terrorists, provides aid to Ukraine for combating Russian aggression and offers assistance to Middle Eastern allies for stopping the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). 

As recommended by the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission, the bill includes modernization of benefits and retirement options available to military and their families. Starting in 2017, this version of NDAA sets up a retirement plan for more than 83 percent of service members through a Thrift Savings Plan. 

Cole sponsored, cosponsored or supported a number of amendments included in the final bill that benefit Oklahoma. In particular, he championed specific amendments to ensure current and future sustainment and maintenance work continues at Tinker Air Force Base. 

“I am pleased that the House has renewed our commitment to a strong national defense through passage of the National Defense Authorization Act,” said Cole. “As our military service members, veterans, military retirees and their families know all too well, the safety and sense of security felt by most Americans doesn’t come without a price. It requires a robust military, equipped with the best, most up-to-date resources to answer threats both at home and abroad.

“America’s military strength and ability to project power is critical to our nation’s safety and sense of security, especially in a day and age when threats continue to arise. Whether it’s a terrorist group in the Middle East threatening our allies in the region or Russia bullying our friends in Ukraine, there are very real problems around the world that require American resolve. At a moment’s notice, we must stand by our friends and strike our enemies, and we cannot do that without a strong military. 

“Just as our military service members answer the call to defend the United States, so too should Americans always prioritize the funding they need to be successful. Inadequate funding is out of the question.”

Along with members of the Oklahoma and Kansas delegation, Cole joined in support of an amendment led by Congressman Frank Lucas (OK-03) that ensures military readiness precedes the needs of an animal species like the Lesser Prairie Chicken and the American Burying Beetle. According to current law, when a military base is within range of these species, it must consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to ensure development or expansion projects or training exercises do not disrupt their habitat.   

“While it is important to take care of the world around us, the regulations currently imposed by the Fish and Wildlife Service regarding the Lesser Prairie Chicken and American Burying Beetle are unnecessary. It is outrageous to slow the important development and training of our troops in order to comply with outdated bureaucratic regulations,” concluded Cole.