NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT FOR FISCAL YEAR 2007
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Mr. KOHL. Mr. President, these days it seems rare that we debate a nonpartisan issue. Too many of the items that Congress considers have more to do with spin than substance, are based more on politics than policy. It is a disturbing trend and that is why I am proud to rise as a cosponsor of the amendment introduced by my colleague from North Dakota, Senator Dorgan.
The issue addressed by the Senator's amendment--the fleecing of American taxpayers by war profiteers and corrupt contractors--should disturb every American. My colleague from North Dakota constructed his amendment, which is based on legislation that I have also cosponsored, in reaction to testimony presented at several hearings he held on contracting fraud. At those hearings, witnesses presented example upon example of blatant misuse of taxpayer dollars. Witnesses testified about abuse ranging from the towels given to our troops to the meals they were served. At every opportunity, no-bid contract winners took advantage of the fact that we are at war to fill their own coffers. That is not a partisan issue--that is a crime.
It is a crime that requires punishment, and it is a crime that we could prevent with greater transparency and accountability. That is what this amendment would do. The amendment establishes penalties of up to 20 years in prison and at least $1 million in fines for war profiteering. It also prohibits the award of Federal contracts to companies that have a history of failing to comply with the law. Finally, the amendment requires real competition: For any contract worth more than $10 million, contractors would be allowed to compete, rather than have all the work automatically go to a single contractor.
This is a commonsense approach to an appalling problem. When we ask our troops and their families to make the ultimate sacrifice, it is repugnant to think that there are those who seek to profit off that sacrifice. Contract fraud does more than cost the taxpayers money--it abuses their confidence. We owe it to our troops, and to the American public, to do all we can to protect such abuses. Senator Dorgan's amendment is a step in that direction, and I urge my colleagues to support the amendment.