06/15/2006 05:21 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

A 'Truman Committee' Is Needed Now

As the cost of the war in Iraq approaches $400 billion, the failure of the Republican Leadership in Congress to ensure proper oversight of these funds has led to waste, fraud and abuse of tax-payer dollars. The Republican Leadership is failing soldiers, their families and the American people by refusing to address this critical issue. This isn't just about saving money. It's about saving lives. Every single dollar that may be wasted or lost is one less dollar that can go to protect our troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Congress must stop spending American taxpayer dollars without making sure these funds are being spent wisely. There are some solutions to this problem -- one of them is a bipartisan bill (H.Res. 116) I co-authored with Congressman Jim Leach of Iowa, which would re-establish the Truman Committee to ensure that American tax dollars are being judiciously spent in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This bill echoes the successful work of then-Senator Harry Truman during World War II. He established a special congressional oversight committee to investigate how defense contracts were awarded and managed. The Truman Committee exposed deficiencies in the procurement process and raised questions about the production and cost of specific war-related materials. It is estimated that the Truman Committee's work potentially saved thousands of lives as a result of identifying defective weapons and other war supplies and saved American taxpayers as much as $15 billion.

A new Truman Committee would gather facts on U.S. military and reconstruction contracting activities and aggressively work to fix whatever problems exist. It would hold the government and contractors responsible for the work they are being paid to do and protect against war profiteering.

There is ample evidence indicating vigorous oversight is warranted. From the beginning of our involvement in Iraq, there have been numerous reports of funds for which the Pentagon could not fully account; of officials charged with overseeing a contract who did not fully carry out their roles; and of payments for exorbitantly priced items such as fuel that have been passed on to the taxpayer.

This has to stop. Congress must not continue to abdicate its responsibility to demand transparency and accountability in the allocation of funds for Iraq and Afghanistan. That is why I will continue urging my colleagues to pass my Truman Committee.