Sen. Jim Inhofe, of Oklahoma, warns defense bill could threaten work at military depots

Last-minute changes could affect delicate balance struck between maintenance work done by military and private contractors, senators say.
BY CHRIS CASTEEL ccasteel@opubco.com Published: December 16, 2011
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“Such a waiver could move significant amounts of depot work to the private sector,” McCain said.

Though the defense bill, expected to be signed soon by President Barack Obama, does not scrap the law that generally requires military depots to get half of the work, it makes other changes that weren't clearly understood by the senators.

It was that uncertainty that frustrated senators who have been comfortable with how the current law is working.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the changes raise numerous questions that must be studied next year.

“We will then take action to repeal or modify anything that needs to be repealed or modified in these provisions during our consideration of next year's” defense bill, Levin said.

In the meantime, Levin said, the Defense Department should “make as little change as possible in the status quo with regard to these functions during the next year.”