Several activists with the Oak Park Advocacy Team for Peace and Justice recently met with Rep. Danny K. Davis (7th District). Among our concerns was why there has never been a clean audit of the Pentagon budget. 

The Pentagon is the only federal department that has never produced an unqualified annual financial statement. The Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990 required that all federal departments provide a clean audit by 1992.

Members of the team also met with senators Tammy Duckworth and Richard J. Durbin, asking the same question along with other concerns about the Pentagon budget. A Sept. 30 deadline looms for audit compliance. This was established by the Fiscal Year 2010 National Defense Authorization Act.

On April 7, 2017, eight U.S. senators sent a letter to Secretary of Defense James Mattis, calling on him to prepare a clean audit on time. Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) were among the co-signers on the letter. Think of that!

During his confirmation hearing, nominee James Mattis committed to running a more efficient and transparent department. However on June 13, Secretary Mattis claimed to be “shocked” by the lack of combat readiness. Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee, Mattis blamed Congress for failing to fund the Pentagon.

Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) chairs the House Armed Services Committee. Thornberry had a commentary published in the Wall Street Journal on June 11. The headline read, “Trump Budget Still Shortchanges The Military.”

In his budget request to Congress, Trump called for $639 billion for the Pentagon, including $65 billion for “ongoing military operations.” Republican lawmakers are calling for upward of 30 billion additional dollars to “rebuild” our military. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, U.S. military spending exceeds the military spending of the next seven countries.

The U.S. Congress holds the purse strings. It seems reasonable to ask that no money be allocated to the Pentagon before the only department that thumbs its nose at American taxpayers provides a clean audit. Senators Duckworth and Durbin along with Congressman Davis, please consider providing only the money needed to pay the salaries and health care costs and pensions of our troops and veterans until Secretary Mattis provides that unqualified audit.

Tom Broderick

Oak Park

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