Sanders requests DOD meeting over wasteful spending

Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, 2016
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Senate Budget Committee ranking member Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Wednesday requested a meeting with new Defense Secretary Ashton Carter to discuss wasteful spending at the Pentagon.

Sanders, a longtime critic of defense spending levels, said the Defense Department must “corral wasteful spending” before Congress expands its funding to pre-sequester levels.

“I support a strong defense for our country and a robust National Guard and Reserve that can meet our domestic and foreign challenges. But I have been very concerned with the level of waste, fraud and inefficient spending that has plagued the Pentagon for decades,” Sanders wrote in a letter to Carter. 

{mosads}“I would like to request a meeting in the near future with you or someone on your team to have a conversation about chronic waste in the Pentagon and what new steps you are taking or are prepared to take to reduce wasteful spending at the Pentagon and to protect taxpayer dollars,” added Sanders, who is considering a presidential run in 2016.

The letter was released ahead of a Senate Budget panel hearing on duplication and waste across the federal government.

Sanders said the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has identified 100 needed reforms at the Defense Department, but only a third have been implemented. He also said it’s “absurd” that the Pentagon cannot track its own spending, which the GAO has repeatedly warned about in conducting its audits. 

In President Obama’s budget request for fiscal 2016, which begins in October, he asked Congress to raise sequestration budget caps by a total of $74 billion on both the non-defense and defense sides. Part of that plan asks for $38 billion more for the Pentagon. 

Many Democrats and Republicans agree sequestration needs to be eased at least at the Pentagon. Mostly Democrats argue it also needs to be lifted for non-defense domestic programs. 

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