Today, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter announced that she has introduced the Never Contract with the Enemy Act, legislation that would enable federal contracting officials to quickly cancel contracts that allow taxpayer dollars to fall into the hands of groups that seek to harm U.S. military or civilian personnel. Earlier this month, Senators Kelly Ayotte and Richard Blumenthal introduced an identical bill in the Senate.
"This is common sense legislation," Shea-Porter said. "If the federal government learns that taxpayer dollars are going to organizations that seek to harm our troops or citizens, we should have the ability to cut those ties immediately. I encourage my colleagues to act quickly on this bipartisan legislation."
According to an April, 2013 audit by the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR), "millions of contracting dollars could be diverted to forces seeking to harm U.S. military and civilian personnel" because contractors are not required to certify that they do not have contracts with insurgency and other enemy groups. The report notes that current law gives the Department of Defense power to keep funds from companies who associate with enemy elements, but that rule only applies to contracts over $100,000, and roughly 80 percent of contracts awarded in Afghanistan fall below this threshold. The SIGAR audit also notes that current law against contracting with the enemy only applies to the Defense Department, and yet the State Department and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) have extensive contracts, grants, and cooperative agreements in Afghanistan.
The Never Contract with the Enemy Act would give federal contracting officials additional tools to terminate contracts that benefit individuals and entities supporting our enemy by lowering the threshold for covered contracts to $20,000. The bill also extends coverage by including grants and cooperative agreements (in addition to contracts), and now applies to the State Department and USAID (in addition to the Defense Department).
As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, Shea-Porter has consistently worked to hold defense contractors accountable and protect members of our military. In the 111th Congress, Shea-Porter secured a provision to penalize contractors who cause serious injury or the death of government personnel by gross negligence or reckless disregard. Earlier this week, Shea-Porter sent a letter to Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki expressing her concern over allegations that the VA ignored data on the adverse health effects experienced by troops exposed to burn pits.