Inhofe Votes for Funding to Support Military, Veterans

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, voted for the Military Construction (MilCon) and Veterans Affairs (VA) Appropriations conference report for fiscal year 2017, which includes emergency funding to address the Zika virus outbreak. The report failed on a cloture vote of 52 to 48. 

“It is disappointing that Senate Democrats chose to vote along party lines, failing to move legislation forward that fully funds healthcare for our nation’s veterans and provides for more than 200 needed military construction projects,” Inhofe said. "In Oklahoma, this appropriations bill would secure $77 million for projects at Altus and Tinker Air Force bases and in Ardmore for a new National Guard Readiness Center. Our VA facilities would have benefited as well by additional funds to specifically address management problems and improve access to care. This conference report also included two notable conservative victories. It would prevent funding to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay and from transferring terrorists detained at this facility to U.S. soil, and it would put a pause on red tape regarding the application of pesticides under the Clean Water Act, empowering states to take action to control mosquitoes to protect public health. I urge Senate Democrats to put aside politics and allow this conference report, with priorities that overwhelmingly received their vote of support in May, to receive a final vote and be sent to the president’s desk.” 

The conference report would provide $82.5 billion in discretionary funding, to include increased funding to the Department of Veterans Affairs by 4 percent over fiscal year 2016 levels in order to address management problems and health care shortages, and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its services to veterans. Military construction would be funded at $7.72 billion, supporting more than 200 military construction projects to include $77 million for Oklahoma. This would fund the following projects: 

  • Altus Air Force Base: $11.6 million to complete the KC-46 Simulator Facility Phase 2
  • Tinker Air Force Base: $17 million for the KC-46A Depot System Fuel Laboratory and $26 million for AWACS Mission and Flight Simulator Training Facility
  • Ardmore, Okla.: $22 million for a new National Guard Readiness Center

The conference report would also provide $1.1 billion for Zika response, which includes a Republican provision to waive the requirement of a Clean Water Act permit for the discharge of an approved pesticide for a 180 day period, if the pesticide application will be done by an entity authorized under state or local law, to control mosquitos to protect the public health. 

On Aug. 5, 2015, the EPW Committee considered Sen. Mike Crapo’s (R-Idaho) S. 1500, the Sensible Environmental Protection Act of 2015. The bill was reported out of the committee by voice vote on Oct. 29, 2015. EPA currently imposes duplicative regulations concerning the application of pesticides under the Clean Water Act (CWA) and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). S. 1500 would ensure duplicative CWA permits are not required for pesticide applications near water, underscoring the sufficiency of its regulations under FIFRA.

On May 19, Inhofe voted for the Senate THUD and MilCon-VA appropriations bill, which passed the chamber by a vote of 89 - 8. The legislation was then conferenced with the House-passed MilCon-VA appropriations bill, with the final report passing the House on June 22 by a vote of 239 to 171.