White House opposes Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole's rescue of AWACS planes

The Obama administration says higher priority defense needs will suffer if U.S. House approves Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole provision to protect all 27 AWACS planes at Tinker Air Force Base.
by Chris Casteel Published: June 17, 2014
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The White House came out strongly on Tuesday against the defense spending bill set to be considered by the full U.S. House this week and specifically cited a provision that would protect AWACS planes stationed at Tinker Air Force Base.

A statement from the White House budget office says a section of the spending bill authored by Rep. Tom Cole “would prevent the Air Force from using funds to divest or to disestablish any units of the active or reserve component associated with E-3 airborne warning and control system aircraft.”

“This provision would force the Air Force to take funding from higher priority defense needs in order to operate, sustain, and maintain aircraft that are not needed and are unaffordable in today’s constrained fiscal environment.”

Cole’s provision in bill

The Air Force had proposed cutting seven of the 27 AWACS planes at Tinker. And, under the proposal, a Reserve unit at Tinker would no longer be allowed to fly any of the remaining planes.

Cole, R-Moore, whose district includes Tinker, added a provision to the defense spending bill that would provide $34.6 million for AWACS operations and maintenance, $24.9 million for personnel and $31 million for parts and modifications.

Cole is a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee and influential on the subcommittee for defense spending.

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by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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