While touting the newly passed military budget, Rep. Kendra Horn (D-OK) warned the company in charge of housing around Tinker Air Force Base, if problems weren’t completely addressed the company’s contract may not continue.
Tinker families have been living with mold and pests in some cases leading to chronic illnesses for more than a year.
The company in charge of running the housing, Balfour Beatty said it is making progress to solve the issues. Earlier this month the CEO of Balfour Beatty was hauled in before Congress and questioned. In an interview late last week Horn said she’s pleased with progress but also issued a warning.
“I think we need to hold everyone accountable and I think they are walking a very thin line,” she said.
Oklahoma Republicans echoed Horn’s warning after the House passed the National Defense Authorization Act, which includes a tenants’ rights section to clean up military housing.
“While I am encouraged that changes are being made to keep existing and future contractors accountable to their job of responsibly overseeing housing properties, it is unacceptable that many military families were victims due to negligence and neglect,” Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) said in a statement.
Horn also defended the creation of the U.S. Space Force. Despite it being the butt of many jokes, when the plans were announced by the White House the Congresswoman called it "critical" for military operations.
“It's important because everything we do to secure our nation and our armed forces cannot operate without our space assets,” Horn said. “Space, as you might imagine, is complicated. It's very technical. We need people with expertise.”
Space Force would be spun out of and still run by the Air Force, although it would be a branch of its own. This is similar to the way the Marines are overseen by the Navy. Horn said it could also have major economic implications for Oklahoma.
Aerospace technology is second only to oil and gas in the Sooner State, meaning a big expansion in space technology could lend some stability to Oklahoma's normal rise and fall with the boom and bust cycle of fossil fuels. On top of that, Oklahomans are already paying for state space programs to the tune of about $300,000 a year, which pays for incentives to bring space-tech companies to Oklahoma.
On Monday, Senator Jim Inhofe advocated for passing the NDAA out of conference committee which is now on its way to a full vote in the Senate.