Senate Homeland Security Chairman Susan Collins (R-Me.) and Ranking Member Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) today announced that on Thursday, November 16th, the Committee will consider a bill to extend the term of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR). Earlier today, Senators Collins and Lieberman, along with Senators Russ Feingold (D-WI), Norm Coleman (R-MN), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Carl Levin, (D-MI,) and Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and 13 others introduced the bill that would enable the SIGIR to continue his critical oversight work until late 2008.
Specifically, the legislation, which the Senators are trying to advance during the lame duck session of Congress, would reinstate the SIGIR’s previous termination schedule of ten months after 80 percent of funds for Iraq reconstruction have been expended. The recently enacted defense authorization bill includes a provision that would end the SIGIR’s oversight responsibilities next year.
Senator Collins said, “There is no question that the Special Inspector General’s office has proven to be a much-needed watchdog, auditing reconstruction contracts in Iraq and spotlighting numerous cases of waste, fraud, and abuse. We must keep the watchdog on the job. This office is responsible for providing the American taxpayer a benefit of more than $25 for every dollar it has spent on oversight and investigations. It is inconceivable that we would remove this aggressive oversight while the American taxpayer is still spending billions of dollars on Iraq reconstruction projects.”
Senator Lieberman said, “The Special Inspector General for Iraqi Reconstruction has provided a tremendous service to American taxpayers and to the men and women serving our country in Iraq by uncovering billions of taxpayer dollars wasted due to contracting fraud and mismanagement. His work must continue to ensure proper oversight as long as American taxpayers are footing the bill for reconstructing Iraq and for as long as the lives of American troops are on the line in Iraq.”
Additional cosponsors of the bill include Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Robert Byrd (D-WV), Joe Biden (D-DE), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), John Kerry (D-MA), Ken Salazar (D-CO), John Sununu (R-NH), Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Olympia J Snowe (R-ME), and John Warner (R-VA).