The Pentagon has spent 23% of its COVID-19 response funds. Congress is asking why not more – By Joe Gould (Defense News) / May 29 2020
Updated 5/29/20 with response from the Pentagon.
WASHINGTON ― The Pentagon has spent less than a quarter of the $10.6 billion Congress gave it in March to protect military personnel and marshal American industry to procure face masks, ventilators and other products hospitals need in their fight against the coronavirus.
Citing the Trump administration’s most recent reports to Congress, Democratic senators say the Pentagon has placed on contract 23 percent of the funds it was provided nine weeks ago as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act of 2020. It’s the latest criticism in a sharp back and forth between congressional Democrats and the Pentagon over the latter’s response to the global pandemic.
As the nation surpassed 100,000 deaths from COVID-19, nine Senate Democrats wrote to Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Thursday, calling for him to provide Congress with a spending plan for the remaining funds. Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Vice Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill., led the letter, which was obtained by Defense News.
“We are concerned by the delays in providing this important information, the lack of transparency in the use of emergency funds appropriated to the Department, and troubling signs the funds will instead be spent for other purposes,” the letter read. “Lacking a spend plan, we are not even sure what those purposes may be.”