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Holding government accountable
Empowering independent investigators to root out waste and hold government accountable
Throughout her time in the U.S. Senate, Claire has pushed to increase the federal government’s accountability by empowering our Inspectors General, who are independent investigators, to root out waste, fraud and abuse in government. As part of Claire’s efforts, she:
- Passed a bill to ensure that Inspectors General are fully independent and protected from pressure by the government agencies they investigate;
- Voted to create a Special Inspector General to oversee the bank bailout in 2009; and,
- Introduced a bill that would create an Investigator General to oversee spending and prevent waste in the U.S. Senate.
Investigating waste in defense contracting
Earning the scorn of defense contractors and secretive special interests, Claire’s been working tirelessly to eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse in government contracting. Poor contracting practices, particularly in the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security, waste billions of dollars of taxpayer money every year. In combating waste, Claire:
- Created the Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight (SOCO), the first committee in Congress ever dedicated solely to reducing waste in government contracting;
- Saved hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars from contractor fraud through SOCO; and,
- Established the bipartisan Commission on Wartime Contracting in 2007, drawing inspiration from Harry Truman’s “Truman Commission.” The commission investigated government waste in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and exposed that government contracting practices wasted between $31-$60 billion in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2008 and 2011. The Commission on Wartime Contracting’s report is paving the way for government to reform the way it awards and oversees contracts, preventing additional taxpayer dollars from being misspent.
Exposing the Arlington National Cemetery scandal
Claire used her position as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight to investigate gross mismanagement at Arlington National Cemetery. To ensure the brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country get the respect and honor they deserve, Claire:
- Brought attention to the mismanagement of Arlington during a hearing in 2010 that revealed that some bodies had been buried in incorrect plots with mislabeled headstones; and,
- Passed legislation that held the Secretary of the Army accountable to identify and fix any errors in the burial records at Arlington National Cemetery.
Working to end automatic pay raises for Congress
In the Senate, Claire has been working across the aisle to end the practice of automatic pay raises for Members of Congress. With her colleagues, Claire:
- Introduced legislation that would permanently end automatic pay raises for Senators and Representatives; and,
- Supported efforts requiring Members of Congress to vote on increases in their salaries to put these practices under the light of public scrutiny — resulting in pay increases failing to pass during four of Claire's six years in the Senate.
Championing the biggest ethics reform since Watergate
Shortly after arriving in the Senate in 2007, Claire helped pass the most sweeping set of ethics reforms in Congress since the Watergate scandal. Claire’s efforts created new provisions that:
- Allow the public to track lobbying activities for the first time ever;
- Increase transparency in the earmark process by requiring all earmark requests be made available for public review; and,
- Denied congressional pensions to members convicted of certain felonies.
Expanding protections for whistleblowers
Claire has worked to expand protections for the brave public employees and individuals who speak out when they see government officials misbehaving or taxpayer dollars being misused. In the Senate, Claire:
- Passed a new law requiring military contractors to provide their employees with a written notification of their whistleblower rights; and,
- Introduced legislation that would expand whistleblower protections to the employees of federal contractors.