Bernie Sanders

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., holds his news conference with Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., in the Capitol on Thursday, January 25, 2024,.

(Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Senate Dems Call On Schumer to Reopen WWII-Era Commission on 'War Profiteering'

Their plan is based on something Harry S. Truman did when he was in the Senate.

Six senators this week sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer calling for him to "reconstitute the World War II-era Truman Committee to investigate war profiteering and price gouging in the American military industrial complex."

The senators include Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and Peter Welch (D-Vt.). The letter states that the U.S. will spend nearly $1 trillion on the military this year, including a small portion of which will go to funding the defense of Ukraine, and the money that goes to military contractors must be used efficiently and cost-effectively.

"Almost half that money will go to a handful of hugely profitable defense contractors. [The Department of Defense] accounts for about two-thirds of all federal contracting activity, obligating more money than all U.S. civilian agencies put together," the letter reads. "As the Government Accountability Office has repeatedly shown, this vast contracting often takes place without adequate safeguards against waste, fraud, and abuse."

The letter notes that the Pentagon is the "only federal agency" that cannot pass an audit. The senators claim military contractors are overcharging the Department of Defense by 40-50%.

"These companies’ greed is not just fleecing the American taxpayer; it’s killing Ukrainians."

"For example, RTX Corporation has increased prices for Stinger missiles sevenfold since 1991, leaving the U.S. paying more than $400,000 to replace each missile sent to Ukraine. Yet somehow, RTX has the money to announce plans to buy back $37 billion in stock through 2025," it reads. "Lockheed Martin, meanwhile, received $46 billion in unclassified contracts in 2022, and returned about one-quarter of that amount to shareholders through dividends and stock buybacks."

The letter claims this profiteering is hurting Ukraine, because military contractors are making excess profits that prevent the U.S. government from sending as many weapons to Ukraine as it otherwise could.

"These companies’ greed is not just fleecing the American taxpayer; it’s killing Ukrainians," the letter says.

The Truman Committee was started by then-Sen. Harry S. Truman (D-Mo.) to investigate waste and wartime profiteering during World War II. Truman found there was an excessive amount of waste and profiteering occurring during the war, and he was able to save the government an estimated $10-15 billion in military spending. This helped him gain prominence in American politics, and he went on to become vice president and then president after the passing of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

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