April 27, 2023

Reps. Lee, Burgess, Pocan, and Biggs Introduce the Audit the Pentagon Act of 2023

Washington, D.C.—Today, Reps. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Michael Burgess (R-TX), Mark Pocan (D-WI), and Andy Biggs (R-AZ) introduced the Audit the Pentagon Act of 2023, which aims to increase transparency and accountability in the defense budget.

As of November 2022, the Pentagon has failed its 5th consecutive audit. According to a recent GAO report, the Department of Defense (DOD) continues to be unable to account for billions of dollars’ worth of assets. 

This bipartisan legislation would administer a 0.5% cut to the budget of any office at the Pentagon that does not receive an audit for the first year of the bill’s enactment, then rises to 1.0% in subsequent years. The bill exempts funding for personnel, families, and military health care from these automatic cuts.

“The lack of accountability and transparency at the Pentagon is simply outrageous. Congress pours trillions of taxpayer dollars into the Pentagon, but we still have no clear idea how that money is being spent,” said Congresswoman Lee. “The Pentagon’s inability to responsibly manage billions of taxpayer dollars allocated every year is unacceptable. Our bipartisan coalition of Representatives Burgess, Pocan, and Biggs are committed to finally holding the Pentagon accountable to the American taxpayer.”

"As stewards of taxpayer dollars, it is our responsibility to demand transparency and accountability from all government agencies, including the Department of Defense,” said Rep. Burgess. “It is unacceptable that the DoD has yet to complete a full financial audit, unlike other major agencies. While some progress has been made, more needs to be done to ensure that the DoD is fully compliant with the law. By incentivizing a full audit and reducing funding for unauditable departments, we can hold the DoD accountable and ensure proper oversight. Our duty to the American people requires no less." 

“We cannot justify continuing to increase the Pentagon budget when the agency cannot even successfully pass an audit,” said Congressman Pocan. “This bill will provide a powerful incentive to Pentagon leaders to get their fiscal house in order. DoD has a history of little accountability while pouring billions into weapons systems that just don’t work properly. It's past time to rein in spending on ineffective programs and restore fiscal discipline to the Pentagon.” 

“The Pentagon has been on a wild spending spree and it’s long past time to bring accountability and enhanced oversight over its spending habits,” said Congressman Andy Biggs (R-AZ). The Pentagon’s aimless spending approach impacts all American taxpayers—regardless of their political affiliation. I’m grateful for my colleagues across the aisle for joining me to hold the Pentagon better in check.” 

This legislation is supported by national organizations including Win Without War, Public Citizen, Taxpayers for Common Sense, and FreedomWorks and R Street.

To read the bill text, click here


Congresswoman Lee is a member of the House Appropriations Committee and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations. She serves as Co-Chair of the Steering & Policy Committee, former Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Chair Emeritus of the Progressive Caucus, Co-Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Health Task Force, and Co-Chair of the Pro-Choice Caucus. She also serves as Chair of the Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity. As a member of the Steering and Policy Committee, she is the highest ranking Black woman appointed to House Leadership.