Democrat introduces bill to limit defense contractor, foreign government influence on Pentagon

Rep. Andy Kim (D-N.J.) announced Tuesday that he has reintroduced legislation that would limit the ability of major defense contractors and foreign governments to hire former Defense Department officials and influence the Pentagon as lobbyists.

The Department of Defense Ethics and Anti-Corruption Act would impose a four-year ban on defense contractors hiring senior Pentagon officials and enact a similar ban on former Defense Department employees who managed their contracts.

It would also extend the prohibition of former military generals lobbying the Defense Department; require defense contractors to submit public, annual reports on the hiring of former senior department officials; and ban senior government officials from owning stock in major defense contractors that receive more than $100 million in revenue from the Pentagon.

Kim, the ranking member on the House Armed Services Committee’s Military Personnel subcommittee, said the Pentagon needs to “prevent conflicts of interest, root out corruption, waste, and fraud so officials can focus on the mission in front of them.”

“This bill is meant to reinforce those values and make sure that Americans know our defense force has their backs,” he said in a statement released Tuesday.

The Defense Department Ethics and Anti-Corruption Act is companion legislation to a bill reintroduced by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in June.

It undoubtedly faces an uphill battle in Congress, where extensive legislation seeking to crack down on defense contractor influence has rarely seen the light of day.

Warren, who has tried for years to pass similar legislation with no success, said “national security is put at risk” when former senior military officials “sell their credentials to the highest bidder.”

“I’m renewing the push with Representative Kim to pass legislation that will root out corruption, rein in foreign influence, and ensure greater transparency over defense contractors and their interactions with [the Defense Department],” she said in a statement earlier this year.

Warren published a report in April that found about 672 instances of former government officials or military officials who went to work for contractors since 2021, most of whom became lobbyists. Boeing, Raytheon and General Electric hired the most, according to Warren’s report.

The proposed bill also seeks to ensure transparency on the issue by forcing contractors to submit detailed reports of their lobbying activities and requiring the Defense Department secretary to more routinely publish copies of unclassified Pentagon contracts.

In a similar vein, the legislation would limit the influence of foreign interests on the Pentagon, addressing concerns about retired military officials taking jobs abroad.

The Washington Post published an investigation last year that found more than 500 veterans, including generals and admirals, were hired for lucrative jobs around the world since 2015, particularly in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other Persian Gulf states.

The bill from Kim would prohibit senior national security officials or intelligence government personnel from working on behalf of foreign governments or private firms connected to foreign governments.

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