Taking aim at what she calls “the coziness between defense lobbyists, Congress, and the Pentagon,” presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Thursday unveiled a plan to reduce the influence of defense contractors on the military and “cut our bloated defense budget.”
In introducing the ‘Department of Defense Ethics and Anti-Corruption Act,’ the Massachusetts Democrat said there are “talented and patriotic” people who work in the defense industry. But Warren argued the close relationship between contractors and the Pentagon “tilts countless decisions, big and small, away from legitimate national security interests, and toward the desires of giant corporations that thrive off taxpayer dollars.”
And she argued that it’s time to make cuts to military programs that “merely line the pockets of defense contractors.”
The first step in Warren’s plan is a ban on giant defense contractors hiring senior Department of Defense officials and general and flag officers for four years after they leave the DoD. The measure also would require contractors to identify the former Pentagon officials who work for them and what those officials are working on.
Warren calls her second step “a no brainer.” It would ban senior DoD officials from owning or trading defense contractor stocks. And it would ban all DoD employees from owning or trading stock if they’re in a position to influence that contractor’s bottom line.
The senator’s third step would limit foreign governments from hiring former American national security officials.
“Former senior national security officials shouldn’t get paid big bucks to work for foreign governments – especially when that work undermines U.S. interests. My plan would make it illegal,” she said.
Warren is also calling for defense contractors to be required “to disclose the true scope of their lobbying activities.”
Warren, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, made her announcement as she and Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., introduced their bill.
The unveiling of the new plan follows Warren’s introduction earlier this year of a wide-ranging anti-corruption bill.