WASHINGTON — On Thursday, August 16, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) named Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) and Ranking Member Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) its August 2012 Porkers of the Month for including a $380 million earmark for the wasteful and widely-criticized Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) in the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee’s version of the fiscal year (FY) 2012 Department of Defense (DOD) spending bill. The earmark was included in the bill despite being rejected by the House Armed Services Committee, the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, and the Senate Committee on Armed Services (SCAS).
The senators’ smarmy move comes on the heels of a letter from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to the Senate Appropriations Committee urging further funding for MEADS, which is being developed jointly with Germany and Italy. Sec. Panetta stated that cancelling the program would “negatively affect allied willingness to join future cooperative endeavors, [and] likely would lead to a dispute with Germany and Italy, both of which have indicated that they would assert that the United States has unilaterally withdrawn from the [Memorandum of Understanding] (MOU).”
However, a confidential DOD report to the SCAS in April 2012 and obtained by CAGW concluded that the U.S. can withdraw from the contract without committing additional money or paying termination fees. The report cited language in the 2005 MOU among the three countries stating that activities related to MEADS were subject to “the availability of funds appropriated for such purposes.” The DOD interpreted this to mean that if Congress fails to appropriate funding for MEADS, the U.S. can extricate itself from the program without penalty. In other words, the objections of Germany and Italy would not matter.
The Obama Administration has previously advocated cancelling MEADS after the completion of the so-called Proof of Concept phase that was to run for two years ending after fiscal year (FY) 2013. To this end, the President requested $400.9 million for MEADS. Secretary Panetta also indicated his preference for the U.S. to complete funding for the final year of the Proof of Concept before cancelling the program.
“Since no authorization exists for MEADS, the funding added by the Senate subcommittee clearly qualifies as an earmark under CAGW’s longstanding criteria,” said CAGW President Tom Schatz. “Eliminating MEADS would be a good start in trimming waste regardless of whether sequestration occurs or not. The continuation of its funding by the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee represents a squandered opportunity.”
For reviving an expensive, ill-advised missile program that was poised to be wiped from taxpayers’ balance sheets, Senators Daniel Inouye and Thad Cochran are CAGW’s August 2012 Porkers of the Month.
CAGW is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government. Porker of the Month is a dubious honor given to lawmakers, government officials, and political candidates who have shown a blatant disregard for the interests of taxpayers.
Submitted by Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW)