Tester joins freshmen colleagues to bring accountability to Iraq contracting

Senators introduce legislation to create Commission on Wartime Contracting

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – For the first time this year, Senator Jon Tester today teamed up with eight of his freshman colleagues to introduce sweeping legislation to bring accountability to private contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The senators said the measure will save American taxpayers billions of dollars.

The legislation cosponsored by Tester establishes the Commission on Wartime Contracting.  The independent, bipartisan commission will prevent waste, fraud and abuse by overseeing contractors hired to support the U.S. military and to rebuild war-torn countries.

"For too long we've heard horror stories of waste, fraud and abuse by government contractors.  Montana taxpayers work too hard and shouldn't have to subsidize this kind of greed," Tester said.  "The wars we fight and shed blood for are not for profit. This legislation brings long overdue accountability and real change to the way American contractors do business in Iraq and Afghanistan."

According to the Government Accountability Office, the U.S. government allocated more than $300 billion on Iraq reconstruction between 2003 and 2006.

"We are outsourcing this war in ways we've never seen," said Senator Jim Webb, D-Va., one of the bill's primary sponsors. "Defrauding the government of millions of taxpayer dollars should not be considered 'the cost of doing business.' It's time for us to stand up on behalf of the American people and say: 'We want our money back.'"

The Commission on Wartime Contracting will be modeled after the Truman Committee, which oversaw contracting projects during World War II and saved American taxpayers more than $178 billion in today's dollars.

"Our bill will make sure that this money—if it has to be spent—goes to support the troops, not the executives of these companies," Tester said.  "And it will finally bring some accountability to those who have taken advantage of the war in order to line their own pockets."

The 8-member Commission on Wartime Contracting would consist of two members appointed by the Senate Majority Leader, one member appointed by Senate Minority Leader, two appointed by the House Speaker, one appointed by House Minority Leader, one appointed by the Secretary of Defense and one appointed by the Secretary of State.

Joining Tester in cosponsoring the legislation by Webb and Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., are Senators Ben Cardin, D-Md., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Bob Casey, D-Pa., and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.