Washington, DC—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement today as the Democratic Policy Committee held a hearing on the waste, fraud and abuse in the Iraq war:
“I would like to thank Senator Dorgan for putting this important hearing together. I would also like to thank all of our witnesses who bring a depth of expertise on the Defense Department, and particularly, the two courageous whistle-blowers who risked their careers to do what is right. This will be the 12th hearing that the DPC has held on waste, fraud and abuse since the start of the Iraq war, for which Congress has appropriated a staggering sum of nearly $500 billion. If President Bush has his way, this may just be the beginning.
“We must never forget where this money comes from: the pockets of current and future generations of American taxpayers. We may not all agree on the direction of the war, but we can surely all agree that these funds must be spent and accounted for as carefully and responsibly as each family balances its own checkbook. President Bush has requested an additional nearly $200 billion in supplemental funds. But Congress and the American people deserve to know: What has he done with the nearly $500 billion we have already allocated?
“The unfortunate answer is that he has allowed a culture of waste, fraud and abuse to fester. This reckless spending in Iraq and within the Department of Defense has cost American taxpayers billions and left our troops without vital resources. In fact, in 2004, the GAO estimated that the Department of Defense couldn’t account for 5 percent of its own funds; that would be equivalent to nearly $22 billion for this year’s budget. It is outrageous that this President is asking for billions of dollars in new spending, while losing track of nearly 22 billion. It doesn’t end there. It was also recently reported that the Iraqi government lost almost $9 billion in reconstruction aid. And the stories go on.
“After years of unchecked spending, Democrats have finally begun to hold the Bush Administration accountable this year. We owe that to the American people. Likewise, President Bush owes the American people a full and honest account of the waste, fraud and abuse that has permeated the Iraq war and cost our troops and taxpayers so dearly.
“Today’s hearing will give us a chance to examine in much more detail the irresponsible accounting systems at the Defense Department and contractor overspending and fraud that continue to cost us billions of dollars a year.”