WASHINGTON – House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD), a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, will offer two amendments at today’s House Appropriations Committee mark-up of the fiscal year 2004 Iraq Supplemental bill. The first amendment requires quarterly reports that provide accountability in past and future spending, detail progress in reconstruction and obtaining international assistance, and estimate expected future costs, among other items. The second requires advanced review of no-bid contracts, rather than after-the-fact review. Congressman Hoyer released the following statement regarding his amendments:
“The White House needs to be held accountable to those who are ultimately paying for the efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan in terms of blood and treasure – the American people.
“Failure is not an option – and spending $200 billion without accountability and oversight should not be an option either.
“The Bush Administration must be held accountable for what we are asking the American people to pay for, because it is – as the president is fond of saying – their money that we are spending, as well as the service of their sons and daughters we are asking.
“My first amendment would require President Bush to report to Congress and the American people on basic information that Democrats and Republicans should want to know when it comes to spending an amount of money so large it is bigger than 10 of the 13 bills that will collectively fund the entire federal government in 2004.
“And contrary to Republican assertions, my amendment does not duplicate the congressional reporting requirement in the mark. The requirements in the Chairman’s mark are very general, my amendment demands much more specificity.
“My second amendment requires review of no bid-contracts seven days before rather than up to 30 days after they are awarded. This amendment will go a long way to preventing waste, fraud and abuse in awarding war contracts – something I know both my Republican and Democratic colleagues want to prevent.
“For those who say we are asking too much of the President by requiring this information, I would say, we are being asked to spend a phenomenal amount of the taxpayers’ dollars in Iraq, and I expect the president will be asking for more in the next year. So, it is the least the Administration can do to explain to the American people how their money is being spent, how much progress is being made with that money and how much we expect to spend before we are done.
“These amendments simply put into practice the checks and balances envisioned by our Founding Fathers.”
Under the Hoyer accountability amendment, the Bush Administration would be required to provide information on 11 issues:
A full accounting of all appropriated funds expended during the previous quarter for military operations and reconstruction efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Progress in the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
An update on progress of reconstruction efforts within Iraq and Afghanistan, in such areas as public safety, energy and transportation infrastructure, and medical services.
Progress being made to reduce the attacks on American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Analysis of the impact the military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have had on overall readiness of the United States military.
Analysis of the impact the current troop deployment has had on recruiting and retention in the National Guard and Reserves.
Expected cost of repairing or replacing the combat vehicles, aircraft and other equipment damaged or destroyed by prolonged exposure to the extreme conditions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Progress being made toward holding free and fair elections in Iraq.
Level of international participation in planning for the stabilization and rebuilding of Iraq.
Report on the number of troops and amount of financial assistance the Administration has secured from the international community during the previous quarter.
Estimates of the total cost that will be required for both the military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as reconstruction efforts there, both for fiscal year 2004 and beyond the end of the current fiscal year.