Warren unveils plan to curtail corporate influence at Pentagon

Warren unveils plan to curtail corporate influence at Pentagon

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenThe Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan On The Money: Senate passes disaster aid bill after deal with Trump | Trump to offer B aid package for farmers | House votes to boost retirement savings | Study says new tariffs to double costs for consumers Overnight Energy: Democrats ask if EPA chief misled on vehicle emissions | Dem senators want NBC debate focused on climate change | 2020 hopeful John Delaney unveils T climate plan MORE (D-Mass.) introduced a plan Thursday she says would drastically reduce the influence of corporate lobbyists at the Pentagon.

Warren’s plan, called the Department of Defense Ethics and Anti-Corruption Act, would ban defense contractors from hiring Pentagon officials and general and flag officers for four years after they leave the Department of Defense (DoD) and force corporations to identify the former DoD officials who work for them.

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The policy also prohibits a former employee or executive of a defense contractor who joins the government from working on anything that could “influence their former bosses.”

“[T]oday, the coziness between defense lobbyists, Congress, and the Pentagon — what former President Dwight D. Eisenhower called the military-industrial complex — tilts countless decisions, big and small, away from legitimate national security interests, and toward the desires of giant corporations that thrive off taxpayer dollars,” Warren said in a Medium post.

“These giant contractors have deployed an extremely profitable strategy: recruit armies of lobbyists from former Pentagon officials and congressional staffers who stream through the revolving door. Then, get those former officials to use their relationships and access to influence our country’s national security apparatus for one purpose — to secure lucrative contracts and boost profits.”

The proposal goes on to recommend banning senior DoD officials from owning or trading any stock of giant defense contractors, prohibiting former senior national security officials from lobbying on behalf of foreign governments and requiring defense contractors to disclose the scope of their activities, including who they meet with at the Pentagon, what they’re lobbying about and what unclassified information is shared.

The plan comes amid Democrats’ concerns regarding acting Defense Secretary Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanOvernight Defense: Details on Senate's 0B defense bill | Bill rejects Trump plan to skirt budget caps | Backfills money for border wall | Defense chief says more troops could head to Mideast Trump defense chief: US may send more troops to Middle East amid Iran tensions Dem senator plans amendment to restrict military action against Iran MORE, a former Boeing executive who is President TrumpDonald John TrumpNASA exec leading moon mission quits weeks after appointment The Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan Frustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' MORE’s nominee to lead the Pentagon on a permanent basis.

“I opposed Shanahan’s prior nomination to work as Trump’s #2 at DOD because of his lack of foreign policy experience and my concerns about his ability to separate himself from Boeing’s financial interests after a lifetime spent working for the company,” Warren wrote. “The truth is that our existing laws are far too weak to effectively limit the undue influence of giant military contractors at the Department of Defense. The response of Congress shouldn’t be to confirm Shanahan. It should be to change the rules.” 

Warren touted the plan as an effective way to cut a mushrooming Pentagon budget, saying it would identify programs that “merely line the pockets of defense contractors ” and “make some cuts.” 

“We should all be grateful for that kind of service and sacrifice. If we want to demonstrate that gratitude, we can start by making sure that national security decisions are driven only by what best keeps Americans safe,” Warren concluded.

The Massachusetts Democrat has stagnated near the middle of the crowded primary pack, at times reaching into the upper tier of some national and statewide polls. 

She has sought to differentiate herself by introducing a slew of detailed policy platforms on education, climate change, Puerto Rico’s debt and more.