Sen. Bernie Sanders on Wednesday presided over a Senate Budget Committee hearing convened to examine waste and fraud at the Pentagon, a department that receives hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding each year despite its rampant and well-documented accounting abuses.
The hearing came as President Joe Biden continued to face progressive backlash for proposing a $715 billion budget for the Pentagon for Fiscal Year 2021, an increase from the current $704 billion level approved under former President Donald Trump.
Sanders (I-Vt.), who supports cuts to the Defense Department’s bloated budget, vowed that Wednesday’s hearing would take a “hard look at waste, fraud, and cost overruns at the Pentagon.”
“The Pentagon remains the only agency in the federal government that cannot pass an independent audit,” Sanders added. “Not acceptable.”
In a statement ahead of the hearing, the Vermont senator noted that the United States “spends more on our nation’s military than the next nine countries combined and over half of our discretionary spending goes to the Pentagon.”
“Meanwhile,” Sanders continued, “half of our people are struggling paycheck to paycheck, over 40 million Americans are living in poverty, and over 500,000 Americans are homeless including roughly 40,000 veterans.”
Watch the hearing live:
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