Lawmakers work to keep U.S. Taxpayer Dollars out of Terrorist Hands

Aug 1, 2013 Issues: National Security Issues

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The United States spends roughly $28 million per day on reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan, some of which ends up in the hands of terrorists and enemy insurgents by way of government contracts. In an attempt to keep that money out of terrorists’ hands, Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) along with Congressman Mike Coffman (R-CO), Congressman John Tierney (D-MA) and Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA) introduced H.R. 2912, the Afghanistan Suspension and Debarment Reform Act.

This bipartisan legislation is designed to ensure that U.S. Government agencies operating in Afghanistan will no longer be able to award federal contracts to terrorists or enemy insurgents in Afghanistan, including supporters of the Taliban, the Haqqani network, and al-Qaeda and their affiliates.

“The fact that U.S. taxpayer money has ended up in the hands of terrorists and insurgents in Afghanistan is totally inexcusable. It’s sickening to think that we’ve been giving money to the very people who are killing our brave service men and women,” Chaffetz said.

“This change will help reduce not only the tremendous waste of our tax dollars due to corruption but will help stop contractors who have connections with the Taliban from getting work,” said Coffman.

“This bipartisan bill would ensure that the U.S. government seriously consider suspension and debarment of non-U.S. contractors in Afghanistan for egregious misconduct. Our bipartisan bill would also provide a new and powerful tool to the Special Inspector General and put irresponsible foreign contractors on notice that they cannot divert U.S. taxpayer funds while hiding behind agency inaction any longer,” said Tierney.

“We shouldn’t spend even one dollar in Afghanistan that we can’t track, let alone millions that end up in the wrong hands. I’m proud to join my House colleagues in the fight for greater transparency of American taxpayer dollars,” said Speier.

H.R. 2912 gives the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) the authority to suspend or debar Afghan and foreign contractors operating in Afghanistan when agencies fail to initiate timely review of contractors identified by SIGAR. Additionally it establishes new mechanisms to ensure that agencies are swiftly and appropriately adjudicating suspension and debarment cases. This legislation also increases transparency with respect to agencies’ suspension and debarment efforts in Afghanistan so that Congress and the American people will know who is on the receiving end of U.S. taxpayer dollars in Afghanistan.

Dating back to 2008, SIGAR has identified more than $150 million in reconstruction contracts and subcontracts that have been awarded to companies known to be providing material support to insurgent and terrorist organizations in Afghanistan. The funding for these contracts has come either directly from the U.S. or the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, who use Afghan Reconstruction Trust Fund donations from the U.S. and its Coalition Partners.

Since 2002, Congress has appropriated nearly $100 billion on non-war-fighting, reconstruction activities in Afghanistan. This figure includes more than $20 billion that has been appropriated in recent years and is still waiting to be spent. These figures are based in part on information compiled by SIGAR in its most recent report to Congress.