WASHINGTON, March 4 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, said the Pentagon must corral wasteful spending before Congress approves additional spending levels for defense above the current law spending cap.
Sanders, who has for years pressed the Pentagon to get control of waste, fraud and abuse by military contractors, asked new Pentagon chief Ashton Carter for a meeting to discuss a path forward. The push from Sanders came before a Budget Committee hearing held to review duplication and waste in the government.
“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.
Sanders added: “The U.S. spends more on our nation’s military than the next nine countries combined and over half of our discretionary spending goes to the Pentagon. The GAO has identified more than 100 needed reforms at the Defense Department, but only a third of those have been implemented. The acquisition budget suffers from chronic cost overruns and operational delays. Out of a $1.5 trillion acquisition portfolio, roughly $448 billion is due to cost growth above the original cost estimates.”
In recent days, some members of Congress have announced plans to try and win approval for a Pentagon budget that exceeds sequestration levels. Sanders said today that before members of Congress even have a conversation about increased defense spending, the Pentagon must show it is ready to tackle the significant cost overruns that defense contractors have pushed on the American taxpayer.
Ahead of budget hearing on government waste, Sanders asked for information on holding contractors accountable for overruns and finding a way to get the military a clean audit.
Sanders' letter to Carter can be found here.