Republicans Block Legislation to Restore Congressional Oversight Over War Contracts

Date: May 5, 2005
Location: Washington, DC

Republicans Block Legislation to Restore Congressional Oversight Over War Contracts

Tierney's Truman Commission defeated on near party-line vote

Washington, DC - Today, the U.S. House of Representatives voted on the final version of the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for FY 2005 (H.R. 1268). As part of the vote, Congressman John F. Tierney (D-Salem) and his democratic colleagues fought to include an amendment to create a Truman Commission to ensure that tax-payer dollars are being judiciously spent in Afghanistan and Iraq. The vote on the amendment failed on a near party-line vote of 224-to-196. Congressman Tierney and his colleague Congressman Jim Leach (R-IA) introduced the Truman bill earlier this year.

"With the United States currently engaged in military and reconstruction efforts involving expenditures of hundreds of billions of dollars, it is absurd that Republicans repeatedly refuse to pass legislation that would make the government and contractors accountable to taxpayers," said Congressman John Tierney.

Tierney's bill echoes then-Senator Harry Truman's successful effort, proposed during World War II, to establish a congressional committee to investigate how defense contracts were awarded and managed. Officially known as the Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program, the Truman Committee exposed deficiencies in the procurement process and was credited with frustrating war profiteering, saving taxpayers large sums of money - and doing so without regard to partisan considerations.

"Since 2003, there has been ample evidence of the necessity of a modern-day Truman Committee. From the start of our involvement in Iraq, questions have arisen about how the contracts have been awarded, the size of those contracts, the quality of contractor work, and the use of taxpayer dollars," Tierney continued.

"For example, according to today's Washington Post... 'In March and early April, Pentagon audits showed more than $200 million in questionable costs in a massive, no-bid Halliburton Co. contract for delivering fuel to Iraq' (page A22)," said Tierney.

"The $82 billion supplemental appropriations bill which will pass the House today is in addition to the estimated $201 billion that the Department of Defense has received, since the 9/11 attacks, for soldiers deployed or supporting operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. We should meet the operation, technical, and equipment needs of our troops stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, we must also perform our oversight responsibilities. Unfortunately, Congress has been largely silent on the issue of accountability in our defense spending. The American taxpayers deserve to know if their tax dollars are being spent wisely," explained Tierney.

A new Truman Committee would gather facts on U.S. contracting in both military and reconstruction activities and aggressively work to fix whatever problems exist. Specifically, it would address the bidding, contracting, and auditing standards in the issuance of government contracts; the oversight procedures and forms of payment and safeguards against money laundering; the accountability of contractors and government officials involved in procurement; and the allocation of contracts to foreign companies and small businesses.

"I will continue fighting for vigilant oversight of taxpayer dollars. Today's vote will not dampen our efforts to push for accountability in defense spending," concluded Tierney.