Today, the House passed the FY15 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) by a strong, bipartisan vote of 325 to 98. The U.S. Constitution Article I, Section 8 gives Congress a responsibility to provide for the common defense by authorizing a budget and setting policy for the Department of Defense. HR 4435 authorizes $521 billion for the Department of Defense, $30 billion less than FY14 enacted appropriations for our military. President Obama’s budget requests reflect over $1 trillion in defense cuts since he came to office.
As the only member of the House Armed Services Committee from Oklahoma, Congressman Bridenstine submitted over a dozen amendments adopted in committee and on the floor. Those amendments that have direct major impact on Oklahoma include:
1. Curtail Cuts to AWACS Aircraft and Protect the 513th Air Control Group. The Air Force proposed to cut seven Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft based at Tinker Air Force Base and disestablish the 513th Air Control Group, costing Oklahoma over 350 jobs. The Bridenstine amendment authorizes funding for three AWACS and prevents disestablishing the 513th ACG until and unless the Secretary of the Air Force meets a certification requirement. Tinker hosts 27 AWACS and the 513th ACG is the only unit in the Air Force Reserve dedicated to flying and maintaining AWACS.
2. Mandate the Air Force Fund the C-130H Avionics Modernization Program. The Avionics Modernization Program (AMP) modernizes and standardizes cockpits for the aged C-130H fleet flown by the Air National Guard. The Air Force plans to fly C-130Hs through 2040, but the Department has ignored legislation that funds C-130 cockpit modernization. Although Congress authorized and appropriated funding for AMP in FY12-FY14, the Pentagon has refused for three years to obligate the funds. The Bridenstine amendment prohibits the Secretary of the Air Force from spending money on her Pentagon staff until the Air Force restarts the AMP program that Congress has demanded for the past three years.
3. Retain Funding for National Guard State Partnership Program. 68 partnerships in 75 countries benefit U.S. strategic interests. Oklahoma’s National Guard partners with Azerbaijan to improve their interoperability with U.S. forces. Azerbaijani crude and natural gas production and pipelines are critical to lessening Europe’s dependence on Russia. The President’s FY15 budget requests cutting the State Partnership Program (SPP) by over 50%. The Bridenstine amendment restores FY15 funding to FY14 appropriated levels for the program.
Highlights of the House-passed NDAA:
· Rejects the President’s proposal for another round of base closings (BRAC).
· Categorically rejects the President’s proposal to increase TRICARE (military health insurance) fees, cut Base Housing Allowance, and cut Commissary benefits.
· Stops planned reductions to the National Guard. Keeps the Guard at 350,000 personnel.
· Increases funding to refuel the USS George Washington aircraft carrier. Keeps a carrier in service that has at least 25 years of remaining useful life.
· Continues production of EA-18G electronic attack fighter aircraft.
· Prohibits transferring Guantanamo Bay detainees to United States.
· Prohibits U.S. military contact and cooperation with Russia.
· Doubles missile defense funding for Israel.
· Increases U.S. missile defense funding by $70 million.
Other Bridenstine Amendments:
· Prohibit U.S. funding of Cooperative Threat Reduction programs in Russia.
· Limit U.S.-Russia military-to-military cooperation until Secretary of Defense certification that Russia has not sold the Club-K missile defense system.
· Require DOD to develop a Joint Information Technology enterprise architecture.
· Require mitigation plan for security risks from Russia global navigation satellite system ground monitoring stations located near overseas U.S. bases or Allied bases.
CD01 Staff for Bridenstine
Congressman Jim Bridenstine was elected in 2012 to represent Oklahoma’s First District, which covers Washington, Tulsa, Wagoner Counties plus portions of Rogers & Creek Counties. Bridenstine serves on the House Armed Services Committee and the Science, Space and Technology Committee. In 2018 he was confirmed as NASA Administrator. To see more of his articles via OKGrassroots while in Congress formerly via Bridenstine.house.gov