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Politics Democrats call for investigation into Pentagon redirecting COVID-19 funds

02:20  23 september  2020
02:20  23 september  2020 Source:   thehill.com

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Economic policy investigations reporter. Pentagon officials counter that they have been fully transparent with both Democrats and Republicans in Congress about their plans for the money. “Their belief is that any investment that could be made to increase the production of covid - 19 items

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Two House Democrats are pressing for an investigation and public hearings following a report that the Pentagon redirected most of its $1 billion in COVID-19 funding to projects that had little to do with the coronavirus.

a man wearing a military uniform standing in front of a flag: Democrats call for investigation into Pentagon redirecting COVID-19 funds © Getty Images Democrats call for investigation into Pentagon redirecting COVID-19 funds

In calling for congressional action, Reps. Mark Pocan (Wis.) and Barbara Lee (Calif.) cited a Washington Post article published Tuesday that said the Defense Department funneled a large portion of its money from the $2.2 trillion CARES Act in March to buying jet engine parts, body armor, dress uniforms and other military needs.

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"For the Administration to choose to use funds Congress made available to fight COVID-19 on the wish lists of defense contractors, instead of first protecting troops and the general public from the spread of the coronavirus, is unconscionable and should be investigated fully and prosecuted if warranted," the two Democrats wrote in a letter to the House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis, House Oversight and Reform Committee and the House Armed Services Committee.

The $1 billion allocated to the Pentagon, which was meant to provide funding through the Defense Production Act to produce coronavirus medical supplies, instead went to projects that had no connection with response to the pandemic, the Post reported.

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The Pentagon 's Defense Criminal Investigative Service subsequently identified hundreds of DOD-affiliated individuals as suspects involved in accessing child pornography, several of whom used government devices to view and share the images.

The Pentagon on Tuesday defended its decision, saying the CARES Act "set forth no limitation requiring use only in the medical supply industrial base."

But the House Appropriations Committee said in a report that the Defense Department's spending on money allocated from the act was not distributed as intended.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) released his own statement on Tuesday, accusing the Trump administration of carving up its billion-dollar appropriation and spending three times the amount on defense contracts "for every dollar it spent on acquiring health resources."

"With the safety and lives of our health care, first responder, and essential workforces at stake, the Department must be held accountable to administer the funding in the way Congress intended," Smith said.

More than 200,000 people in the U.S. have died of COVID-19, with U.S. health officials still requesting funding for the pandemic response, including $6 billion for states to make vaccines available when they are developed and to address a shortage in N95 masks for hospitals.

Joe Biden’s plan to beat the coronavirus .
Donald Trump botched America’s Covid-19 response. Joe Biden thinks he has a plan to fix it.President Donald Trump has badly botched the response thus far, according to most experts, and the numbers tell the tale: 200,000 Americans are dead. He’s tried to discredit the scientific institutions tasked with managing the response. Millions of people are still out of work. Thousands of businesses have closed that will never reopen.

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