Thursday, October 11, 2007

Anti-warprofiteering Bill Passed Overwhelmingly

Will it be retroactive or will we, the people have to take it out of their corporate hides?

House Passes Bill Outlining Prison Time, Fines for ‘War Profiteering’

The House overwhelmingly passed a measure Tuesday that would prohibit “war profiteering” by contractors.

The bill (HR 400), sponsored by Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii, would ban fraud against the United States or “a provisional authority” — such as the Coalition Provisional Authority that governed Iraq in 2003 and 2004 — in connection with a war, military action, or relief or reconstruction activities. It passed by a vote of 375-3.

“There have been no statutes prohibiting sleazy practices by American contractors overseas,” said Abercrombie.

But Thomas M. Davis III of Virginia, the ranking Republican on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, whose district includes many defense companies, said the legislation took “political potshots at contractors.” Moreover, he said, it might have “unintended consequences,” including criminalizing mere overpricing.

Supporters countered that contractors can only be convicted if they are proven to have had an intent to defraud.

“Those are high standards,” said Robert C. Scott, D-Va.

The measure is the latest in a series of Democratic actions to highlight corruption in U.S. and Iraqi contracting.

Last week, the House passed a bill (HR 2740) that would bring all contractors in Iraq within the reach of U.S. law, amid allegations that Blackwater USA, a State Department security contractor, may have been responsible for the deaths of innocent Iraqi citizens but escaped consequences.

Abercrombie has said his measure, too, was meant to clarify legal gray areas that have hampered prosecution of contractors in Iraq.

The measure would create a criminal penalty of up to 20 years in prison for knowingly defrauding the U.S. government to make excess profits. It also would establish a fine of $1 million or twice the gross profits of the contract, whichever is greater.

The bill was considered under suspension of the rules, which bars amendments, limits debate and requires a two-thirds majority for passage.

Source: CQ Today
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© 2007 Congressional Quarterly Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

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