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Joe M.
Democrat WV

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  • Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act—Continued

    by Senator Joe Manchin, III

    Posted on 2013-06-13

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    MANCHIN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

    Defense Contracting Mr. MANCHIN. Mr. President, I appreciate the power of the free enterprise system. It is one of the reasons for America's greatness. I know from experience that private businesses do some things better than the government ever could. But over the last couple of decades, the United States has increasingly relied on private contractors to do the work the men and women in our Armed Forces used to do, and they are getting exorbitant salaries to do the same work--in some cases, almost twice the salary of the President of the United States.

    To the people of West Virginia and to me it doesn't make any sense to pay a defense contractor up to $763,000 a year. That is almost twice as much as our Commander in Chief and almost four times as much as our Secretary of Defense. If we do nothing about this, this figure will automatically rise to $951,000 next year--$951,000. That is almost $1 million a year right in the middle of sequestration when we are cutting everything.

    With the war in Afghanistan winding down, it is only natural for defense contractors to be looking for new opportunities, and the southern border of our country is one of the places they are eyeing. In fact, the New York Times says some of them are getting ready to demonstrate military grade and long-range camera systems this summer in an effort to secure billion-dollar contracts with Homeland Security.

    I understand we need the expertise of a private industry to secure our borders, but taxpayers should not be responsible for the exorbitant salaries these contractors are demanding. So I am offering an amendment that would cap compensation for private contractors employed for border security. The cap would be $230,700 annually, which is the most a government civilian can be paid in a given year. So it is in line with what we are doing.

    That is significantly more than we pay Defense Secretary Hagel or our Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano.

    There is nothing in my amendment that would prevent contractors from making more than $230,000. We are not saying they can't make more than that. We are saying they can't pass that through to the taxpayers of America. They have to pay it out of the profits of their company. The only thing I [[Page S4471]] am preventing is the taxpayers from having to foot the bill.

    I have heard some proposals to bring that figure down to $487,000. That is an improvement. But, frankly, I can't look West Virginians in the eye, and I am sure the Chair would have a hard time looking his constituents in Massachusetts in the eye, and justify paying government contractors that much money because it is just hard to justify. It can't be justified.

    We need to get our fiscal house in order. We can't do that if we allow private contractors to charge the taxpayers exorbitant salaries of almost $1 million. It is time for commonsense controls on contractors' salaries. So I am asking for the support of this amendment when it comes to the floor.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Alabama.

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