Horn tours Tinker with colleagues on defense committee
After touring Tinker Air Force Base with two key lawmakers, U.S. Rep. Kendra Horn on Friday praised the work being done to sustain critical aircraft and said progress was being made to repair housing units recently cited as a health threat.
Horn, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, visited the base with Reps. John Garamendi, the California Democrat who chairs the subcommittee on Readiness, and Doug Lamborn, of Colorado, the top Republican on the subcommittee.
“I think they were very impressed with Tinker,” said Horn, D-Oklahoma City.
“I don’t see how you wouldn’t be impressed with Tinker and the work that they’re doing out there. … The creativity that they’re using to problem solve and reduce costs is impressive.”
The sprawling Oklahoma County base has numerous missions but is most known for its huge maintenance depot. The base is in the district of U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore.
Horn said the Armed Services Committee is preparing to write the annual defense bill, which sets military policy. Among the reasons for the Tinker visit was to study acquisition, inventory and other systems for efficiency, she said.
The committee also has been grappling in recent months with severe problems at military housing built and maintained by private companies.
Poor housing conditions at Tinker and other bases were exposed in a detailed report by the Reuters news agency. Active military duty personnel and their families had trouble getting the companies to make repairs and, according to testimony at hearings, military leaders failed to get involved.
Horn said she and her colleagues visited a housing unit on Friday and were briefed on repairs being made to a water line that had leaked and caused numerous problems.
“In the privatization (of military housing), the oversight by all of the service branches went down substantially,” Horn said.
“I think they were operating under the assumption that the companies were going to address these issues, and they simply weren’t.”
One step in addressing the problem is ensuring bases have enough military personnel to conduct oversight of the housing, she said. The services are working on a tenant bill of rights, she said.
“We’ve got to do better by the men and woman who are serving,” Horn said. “We have to fix the immediate problem and then we have address the long-term reasons that we got here so it never happens again.”