WHEELING - Sen. Joe Manchin wants an audit of U.S. Department of Defense spending.
A defense authorization bill passed in the U.S. Senate included nine amendments authored by Manchin, one of which would require the Department of Defense to conduct an audit of its spending. Manchin co-authored the amendment with Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla.
Manchin is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, which is responsible for writing the National Defense Authorization Act. The measure passed the Senate last Wednesday 98-0, and will now go before the House.
"I want an audit. I want to know what their costs are, and what they are spending," Manchin said.
A second of Manchin's amendments - co-sponsored with Sens. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa - would require a report on defense contractor salaries. This report would include the number of defense contractors who make more than $230,700 - which is the salary of the vice president - as well as those earning more than the annual salary of the president, which currently is at $400,000. The report also must provide an assessment on whether there are federal civilian employees who perform duties and services comparable to contractors.
Manchin, meanwhile, is listed as the sole author of the Manchin Executive Compensation Benchmark Amendment. The provision reduces the cap on allowable compensation for defense contractors, but still retains the flexibility for the Secretary of Defense to establish targeted exceptions for scientists, engineers and other specialists, if needed. The amendment would uphold the president's requested policy that limits the executive compensation benchmark to $230,700.
Manchin contends too often contractors are being hired to perform jobs that can be done by trained members of the military.
"We have fewer people in uniform ... but higher cost. And it makes no sense," Manchin said.
Other amendments by Manchin pertain to the rights of women in the military and military families:
The Manchin Standardization of the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System - This amendment ensures that enrollment eligibility requirements are standardized across all military installations.
Manchin Support Military Families Amendment - This amendment requires the Department of Defense to provide a report on the future of military family programs and the costs associated with each program.
Manchin Veterans Employment Reporting Amendment - The base bill has a provision that requires quarterly reports on the number of service members that are involuntarily released from active duty.
Manchin Military Families Have A Voice Amendment - The bill establishes a Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission that will recommend any changes to benefits or retirement no later than 15-months after bill becomes law.
Manchin Equal Access for Mental Health Assessments Amendment - The nature of war has changed dramatically in the past decade, with women and supporting troops fulfilling the same roles as front-line troops in certain circumstances, Manchin explained.
Manchin Women in Combat Amendment - Requires the Department of Defense to report on the feasibility of implementing recommended changes to roles of women in the military.