WASHINGTON, Sept. 18 – Two amendments by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) were included in the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act that passed the Senate Monday.
One of Sanders’ amendments provides statutory authorization for Beyond the Yellow Ribbon programs, which are state grants provided by the Department of Defense for programs which help members of the Armed Forces and their families in preparation for deployment, during deployment and in reintegration post-deployment.
These state-led outreach programs are especially critical in rural areas and in states without any major military installations, and have helped thousands of service members, veterans and their family members cope with the challenges associated with deployments and military service.
"We must do everything that we can to protect our servicemembers and their families, prepare them for deployment and ease their transition back into civilian life," Sanders said. “I am proud that we are able to continue to fund this essential program.”
A second Sanders amendment requires DOD to issue a new report detailing instances of repeat work with contractors who have perpetrated fraud against the government. It would also require DOD to report back to Congress on its progress in implementing its previous reports’ recommendations on how to decrease repeat contracting fraud and to make new recommendations as needed.
In 2009, the Senate passed an amendment introduced by Sanders that required the department to report the total value of DOD contracts with entities that have been indicted for, settled charges of, been fined by federal agencies for or been convicted of fraud in connection with any contract or other transaction with the federal government in the past 10 years. The resulting 2011 report found that DOD awarded more than $1.1 trillion worth of contracts to companies that had previously been found guilty of, or paid settlements to resolve charges of fraud against the government—including fraud involved in the sale of deficient products to the military. This especially reprehensible type of fraud has directly resulted in physical risk to servicemembers on the front lines.
“Simply put, the Pentagon continues to be riddled with waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayer funds to a degree unmatched across the federal government,” Sanders said. “It is unacceptable that the Department of Defense continues to lose vast sums of taxpayer money because of fraud perpetrated by major defense contractors. This has got to end.”