Jamison Faught

National Defense Authorization Act Includes Bridenstine Provisions

Washington, DC, December 2, 2016 —  Today, Congressman Jim Bridenstine voted for the FY17 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference report. The NDAA conference report reconciles differences in the House and Senate versions passed earlier this year.   NDAA is a bipartisan bill that authorizes funding for America’s armed forces and sets Department of Defense policy.  Congress has passed the National Defense Authorization Act 55 years in a row.

The NDAA conference report includes a number of critical provisions:

  • Pay raise for the troops above the President’s request
  • Additional funding to stop the drawdown in Army soldiers and Marines
  • Expanded care at military hospitals

The NDAA conference report rejects a number of controversial policy changes in the Senate NDAA including:

  • Requiring women to register with Selective Service
  • Cuts to housing allowance (including dual military families)

The NDAA conference report includes several provisions from Rep. Bridenstine’s American Space Renaissance Act (ASRA).  In April 2016, Congressman Bridenstine introduced ASRA, groundbreaking legislation to enact bold reforms across military, civil, and commercial space sectors.  NDAA is the first step in Bridenstine’s strategy to enact ASRA piece-by-piece using different legislative vehicles.  The conference report includes ten ASRA provisions, including:

  • Section 1605 – Modifies the terms of the Satellite Communications (SATCOM) Analysis of Alternatives (AoA) to ensure DOD uses accurate cost estimates and fully considers commercial SATCOM technologies.  The Pentagon uses AoAs to help select new weapons systems to replace old programs.  DOD will start the SATCOM AoA shortly to help choose a successor system to the current Wideband Global SATCOM satellite constellation, which provides long-distance communications capabilities to our warfighter.  
  • Section 1606 – Redirects funding to jump start a pilot program to test next-generation SATCOM technologies.  Private sector SATCOM companies are offering leap-ahead capacity for commercial customers.  The Department of Defense should take advantage of this. 
  • Section 1613 – Establishes a pilot program for the Air Force to buy, test, and evaluate commercial weather data.  Utilizing data provided by innovative private sector weather companies can lower costs to taxpayers, produce better weather products for the warfighter, and complicate the targeting solutions of our enemies by distributing space architectures.
State Rep. Tom Newell announces resignation

OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Tom Newell announced his resignation from the House of Representatives today.

Newell delivered his resignation letter to Gov. Mary Fallin showing an effective date of Dec. 31, 2016. Fallin will call for a special election within 30 days to fill the seat for Oklahoma House District 28, which covers Seminole County and the northern portion of Pottawatomie County in east central Oklahoma.

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Dan Boren won't run for Governor in 2018

In an announcement today, former Democrat congressman Dan Boren has decided against running for governor in 2018. This is essentially the Oklahoma Democratic Party conceding the race to the GOP, as Boren was their best (and perhaps only) shot at t…

Senator Lankford Releases “Federal Fumbles” Gov’t Waste Report

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford today released his second annual government waste and solutions report called, “Federal Fumbles: 100 ways the government dropped the ball.” The report represents $247 billion in wasteful and inefficient federal spending and regulations, but also includes solutions to each of the examples of government waste. CLICK HERE to access the report.

“The American people have signaled a bold new direction for Washington with the election of President-elect Donald Trump,” said Lankford. “Although the federal debt wasn’t a major focus during the presidential campaign, it remains a serious impending crisis that must be addressed. In Fiscal Year 2016 alone, we had a $587 billion deficit and our federal debt is now an outrageous $19.5 trillion. To lower the debt, we need to grow the economy, and we must root out inefficiencies, duplication, and wasteful spending wherever they exist. This ‘Federal Fumbles’ report provides specific examples of wasteful spending and unnecessary regulations that are not in the taxpayer’s best interest.”

Lankford released the report during a press conference in Washington, DC this morning. Watch the video below:

Senator Lankford Excerpts from Press Conference:

“This is the way the federal government has dropped the ball, and what we are trying to focus in on, is not trying to pick on one particular agency or entity, but to say we have got to be able to pay attention. We are really dealing with four different main areas as we walk through this; grants that need oversight, regulations and regulators that need oversight, agency bureaucracy and inefficiency, and then a lack of coordination between agencies.

“We are not just trying to raise the problem; we are also trying to raise how you solve it. Whether it is an administration action, whether it is a piece of legislation, whether it is just coordination between the two, or some of those things that have already happened, but we haven’t engaged in it enough to provide the oversight needed to actually get the coordination. Every single one of these identify here is the problem, here is the issue, and here is how to solve it.

“This is not a comprehensive book; this is not trying to list everything in the federal government where there is an issue. We are trying to find some key areas that we can identify, and say here are some problems we have seen, and some things that we find as common ground solutions. This builds on last year’s book.

“We have got duplication issues. We have got problems that are around federal foreign aid, which has been an ongoing issue that we have made recommendations on. When we deal with foreign aid, we should simply deal with foreign aid that is to the benefit of the United States. We don’t think that is an unreasonable request. Instead, at times, we deal with foreign aid, like studying fish bones in Tanzania.”

To do his part to help reduce federal spending in Congress’ own operational budget, Lankford has operated his Senatorial office budget far below the allotted amount for each Senator. Since he was elected to the US Senate in 2014, Lankford has given back $230,000 to the Treasury each year.

Federal Debt Statistics:

  • The federal deficit for Fiscal Year 2016 was $587 billion, and overall debt is now $19.5 Trillion, according to the Treasury Department.
  • The total federal debt of $19,573,444,713,936.79 now equals about $165,575 per household in America.
  • In the eight years of Mr. Obama’s presidency, the federal debt has grown by $9 trillion, nearly matching the total amount of debt accumulated by all of his predecessors.
  • According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the projected federal deficit is expected to be $594 billion in Fiscal Year 2017.
  • Annual deficits are projected to increase above $1 trillion within this decade due to America’s aging population. Between 2010 and 2040, the number of Americans age 65 and older will double – from 41 million to 82 million people. 
Five Examples of Legislative Victories From 2015 “Federal Fumbles” Report:
  1. Subsidized Wind (page 11) – The Wind Production Tax Credit was originally created as a temporary subsidy to help get the wind energy industry off the ground. The industry is now very successful, yet it receives more than $6 billion in federal tax credits every year. Lankford helped secure a provision in the 2016 Consolidated Appropriations funding bill, which was signed into law last December, to include a three-year phasedown of the wind energy tax credit. 
  2. 25,000+ Ineligible Families In Public Housing (page 71) – Last year, more than 25,000 families in America received federally-subsidized housing from HUD, despite not being qualified for the program. More than $100 million was spent on families, like one in New York with an annual income of $497,911, who earned far more than the allowable amount for federal assistance. Lankford secured a provision in the annual Senate Appropriations bill for HUD (S. 2844) that requires implementation of an IG report’s recommendations to ensure only those who are entitled to federal housing assistance actually receive it.
  3. Disability is Only for the Disabled (page 119) – The Social Security Administration (SSA) has an enormous backlog in disability cases waiting for an Administrative Law Judge hearing. To expedite the backlog, the SSA created a new system to hear cases, but it was found to be costly and legally uncertain. Lankford confronted the SSA with the cost and risk of that scheme and after threats of a subpoena, the SSA reversed their plan and changed direction. This will save the taxpayer millions of dollars of litigation costs and will speed up the disability process.
  4. Caution: Read Before Eating (page 27) – A recent food-labeling FDA rule requires grocery stores, restaurants, and entertainment venues to add more detailed information on each food item sold. While Americans should have information on the food they eat, existing labeling requirements are already very detailed, and this regulation would burden the agriculture industry with more than $1 billion in compliance costs in the first year alone. Lankford helped secure a provision in the 2016 Consolidated Appropriations funding bill, which was signed into law last December, to pause implementation of the rule. 
  5. Taxpayers Right To Know – More than 25 pieces of legislation that address an example of waste in Lankford’s 2015 “Federal Fumbles” report have passed a Committee or one House of Congress, and could progress even further during the lame-duck session of Congress, which ends December 31, 2016. One bill is the Taxpayers Right-to-Know Act, which passed the House and has bipartisan support in the Senate. This bill will promote budget transparency, which will result in federal spending that is more accountable to the taxpayer, especially for questionable grants, which make up a significant amount of waste examples in Lankford’s 2015 report.
Plenty To Be Thankful For

As we celebrate this Thanksgiving, those of us in America certainly have a lot to be thankful for. We have freedoms most of the world’s inhabitants can only dream about. We have security and peace of mind that the vast majority of the world will never experience. The video below is an emotional reminder of the blessings we so often take for granted.

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Watch List: Oklahomans who might get Trump appointments

President-elect Donald Trump is in the midst of picking appointees for his Cabinet and various other top government posts. Among the many names being mentioned for different positions are several Oklahomans.

Photo: Gov. Mary Fallin                Businessman Harold Hamm

Secretary of the Interior

The Department of the Interior manages about 75% of all federal public land, is responsible for conservation of natural resources, and operates numerous agencies including the Bureau of Land Management, the United States Geological Survey, the National Park Service, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and oversees policy in American Samoa, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands.

Governor Mary Fallin and Continental Resources CEO Harold Hamm are being mentioned as possible picks. Fallin met with Trump on Monday, while it appears that Hamm has had no interview yet.

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