U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) today welcomed the growing support from public interest organizations for his effort to put an end to exorbitant, taxpayer-funded salaries to military contractors - which come at the cost of hardworking uniformed servicemembers and a strong military.
"I appreciate the fact that our effort is getting so much attention -- and particularly from people who understand how critical it is that we get a handle on our government's spending," Senator Manchin said. "It's time we get contractors' salaries back in line with what we pay our courageous service men and women."
The Senator's comments came in response to a letter of support signed this week by the leaders of 10 organizations involved in public interest advocacy, government accountability, research and labor.
Sent to the top Democratic and Republican members of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, the letter called for lowering the compensation cap of military contractors from $763,029 to $230,700 -- the same cap proposed under Senator Manchin's amendment to the annual defense authorization legislation this year.
The letter states: "Due to concerns about both fiscal responsibility and fairness, we believe it is important to reduce the compensation priced and/or reimbursed under U.S. government prime and subcontractors to defense contractor employees. With budget cuts and sequestration looming it is fiscally irresponsible to allow private contractors to charge escalating and exorbitant rates to the government."
The letter adds: "Since 1998, the compensation cap on government contracts has more than doubled. Over the past dozen years, the increase in allowable government compensation to contractors has outpaced inflation by 53 percent. The increase authorized by the Office of Federal Procurement Policy in April 2012 alone represented a 10 percent increase in allowable compensation for contractors while military personnel -- the brave men and women actually risking their lives in defense of the nation -- saw an increase of less than 2 percent and the pay of other federal employees was frozen."
Senator Manchin said the letter reflects his own argument -- that "there's no justification for the overuse of overpriced private contractors, particularly when it comes to protecting our country, particularly when we can't even get a reliable figure on how many private military contractors we have."
"To the people of West Virginia -- and to me -- it doesn't make any sense that taxpayers are paying some contractors twice as much as we pay the Commander-In-Chief, and three to four times as much as the Secretary of Defense," Senator Manchin said.
"Keeping the most powerful military in the world is a top priority for me, and we'll do that by keeping the muscle of our military strong," the Senator added. "But clearly, there's some fat we can trim when we're paying more than three quarters of a million dollars a year to some private military contractors."