2019-09-05 ne-defensecutsp1

An F-16 fighter jet from the Oklahoma Air National Guard’s 138th Fighter Wing prepares to take off. Tulsa World file

Oklahoma’s two U.S. senators and 1st District Congressman Kevin Hern all said Wednesday that they are fine with the Trump administration’s taking $8 million earmarked for a small-arms firing range at the Oklahoma Air National Guard base in Tulsa and using it for new and replacement barriers on the nation’s southern border.

“Not one of the vital national security projects in Oklahoma will be impacted by this decision,” Sen. Jim Inhofe, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a written statement. “Additionally, I will continue to work with the Oklahoma National Guard and Major General (Michael) Thompson to ensure that the small arms range is still completed on schedule.”

The $8 million for the shooting range is a small portion of the $3.6 billion from the Department of Defense construction budget that President Donald Trump says he’s redirecting to increase physical barriers on the southern border.

Sen. James Lankford said following a public appearance in Jenks Wednesday night that he is fine with delaying the gun range because it was not going to be built in the current fiscal year and, in fact, was under closer scrutiny because of its price tag.

Lankford said it is not unusual for appropriated funds to be “reprogrammed” during a fiscal year.

“If this is typical reprogramming, (it) doesn’t bother me,” he said. “If they’re actually pulling a project off that was agreed to in law — that everybody agreed to — I think that is a problem.”

“Border security is national security,” Hern said in a news release. “The temporary cut to the facility in Oklahoma does not threaten our national security capabilities and I will work hard with our delegation to ensure our guardsmen have all the resources that they need to do their job.”

Oklahoma Adjutant General Michael Thompson also said he is OK with the move.

“Temporarily redirecting funds from our planned small-arms range to further support security on the southern border will have no long-term impact to the readiness or operations of the Oklahoma National Guard,” he said.


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Randy Krehbiel

918-581-8365

randy.krehbiel@tulsaworld.com

Twitter: @rkrehbiel

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