WASHINGTON - Legislation that would punish government contractors for profiteering and cronyism was introduced on Thursday by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and other Democrats.
The new bill also aims to punish war profiteers with tough penalties and to "force real competition" in bidding for lucrative federal contracts, Reid said in a statement.
Democrats have been critical of contracts awarded to companies for the reconstruction of Iraq and the U.S. Gulf Coast after deadly Hurricane Katrina last year.
Earlier this week, the U.S. Army said it reimbursed a subsidiary of Halliburton Co., the oilfield services company formerly run by Vice President Dick Cheney, for most of $221.9 million in costs disputed by government auditors on a no-bid contract in Iraq.
A top Army procurement officer, Bunny Greenhouse, last year described Halliburton's Iraq deals as "contract abuse" and said auditors flagged more than $1 billion in potential overcharges.
Sen. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, a co-sponsor of the new bill, said the legislation would set new standards to "restore integrity to a federal contracting process that has too often been operated in a manner that neither ensures confidence nor that taxpayers get a fair return for what they have paid."
It was not immediately clear if the legislation could win support from Republicans, who control both chambers of Congress.
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