Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after the House passed H.R. 3979, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2015. This legislation is the negotiated agreement between the House Armed Services Committee and Senate Armed Services Committee, reconciling two separate pieces of legislation passed in May in both chambers.


“Today, the House acted with strong bipartisanship to pass vital legislation that authorizes funds for our military personnel, readiness and operations,” said Cole. “Without question, maintaining the strength of our military deserves our utmost attention and support, and the negotiated NDAA agreement passed today demonstrates our joint commitment to giving our military the resources they need both at home and abroad.


“The NDAA further addresses critical readiness gaps associated with an increase of $666.2 million for aircraft depot maintenance caused by sequestration and repeated resource cuts. The increase was achieved by diverting funds from lower priority items.


“But very important to Tinker Air Force Base in the Fourth District, I am pleased that the legislation includes funding for several vital aviation programs including AWACS, C-130 and A-10. Earlier this year, the Administration recommended the deactivation of seven AWACS stationed at Tinker. Such reductions to the size and capability of the AWACS fleet would significantly impact our Armed Forces in future conflict.


“I was disappointed that a provision I had included in the House version of the bill was not carried in the final bill that would have prevented working capital fund (WCF) employees from any future furloughs. I remain concerned about the negative effect furloughs of WCF employees have on military employees when monies and workload are available. Such a practice only delays delivery times of aircraft and raises rates, costing the taxpayer and reducing military readiness.


“With budget constraints in place, I hope that the Department of Defense will manage future budgets carefully and weigh all competing variables when making readiness and workforce decisions going forward. However, I remain concerned that if resource trends are not reversed soon, any tentative gains in these accounts will be diminished or eliminated.


“As we face mounting threats to our national security in the months and years ahead, I hope that we continue to work together to authorize funding to combat our enemies by providing adequate resources to our dedicated military personnel,” concluded Cole.