April 24. 2013 12:15PM

Shea-Porter, Ayotte seek to ensure U.S. agencies will ‘Never Contract with the Enemy’

WASHINGTON  -- New Hampshire Democratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter on Wednesday introduced legislation that would forbid federal contracting with entities that could funnel taxpayer dollars to enemies of the United States.

Identical legislation, introduced earlier this month in the Senate by Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Democrat Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, has received key endorsements.

A spokesman for Shea-Porter said that while Shea-Porter did not work in tandem with Ayotte, each was aware of the other’s bill.

Each piece of legislation is dubbed the “Never Contract with the Enemy Act.”

Each would enable federal officials to quickly cancel any contracts when it is discovered that the contracts are allowing taxpayer dollars to be funneled to groups that seek to harm U.S. military personnel or civilians.

Shea-Porter, a New Hampshire Democrat, called it “common sense legislation.

“If the federal government learns that taxpayer dollars are going to organizations that seek to harm our troops or citizens, we should have the ability to cut those ties immediately,” Shea-Porter said.

Ayotte introduced forerunner provisions into the defense authorization bill with former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown in 2012.

Ayotte’s new bill would speed the process for the cancellation of contracts and expand number of federal agencies allowed to cancel contracts, her office said in a statement.

Ayotte’s office said that in a hearing last week, her bill was endorsed by Gen. Joseph Dunford, commander of U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan, and Stuart Bowen, Jr., the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.

According to Ayotte’s office, her new bill would give the state department and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) the same authority to cancel contracts as the Department of Defense currently has.

Shea-Porter’s office said that an April 2013 audit by the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR) found that under current law, “millions of contracting dollars could be diverted to forces seeking to harm U.S. military and civilian personnel” because contractors are not required to certify that they do not have contracts with insurgency and other enemy groups.

Shea-Porter’s office said the report noted that current law gives the Department of Defense power to keep funds from companies who associate with enemy elements, but that rule only applies to contracts over $100,000, and “roughly 80 percent of contracts awarded in Afghanistan fall below this threshold.”

The SIGAR audit also noted that current law against contracting with the enemy only applies to the Defense Department, and yet the State Department and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) have extensive contracts, grants, and cooperative agreements in Afghanistan.

The bills would lower the dollar threshold to contracts of $20,000 or more.

The bill also extends coverage by including grants and cooperative agreements and would apply to Defense Department contracting officials outside of the Central Command area of responsibility and as well as the State Department and USAID.