Senate Approves Measure to Hold Contractors Accountable

Amendment would require contractors to fix dangerous deficiencies, such as improperly grounded electrical wires, they discover that threaten the safety of military personnel and contractor employees

WASHINGTON, DC- Last night, the U.S. Senate passed an amendment by Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) to hold contractors accountable for the safety of their employees and U.S. service members overseas.  This legislation was introduced after shoddy electrical work lead to the deaths of soldier and contractors

“I am pleased that the Senate approved this amendment to protect U.S. personnel serving overseas,” said Senator Casey.  “Troops and contractors trained to serve in a war zone shouldn’t have to worry about being electrocuted while they shower. If contracting firms who do shoddy work can’t take responsibility for their actions, this legislation will make sure they do the right thing.”

“American taxpayers have paid billions of dollars to contractors who support soldiers overseas, but recent cases of lax oversight and outright negligence have put too many of them in harm’s way,” Durbin said. “This amendment will help ensure that contractors are held accountable for failing to keep their employees or our troops safe.”

The amendment would close a loophole that has left shoddy electrical work and other problems on American military bases uncorrected.  Under current law, contractors that inspect and discover deficiencies are not explicitly required to immediately correct such problems.  This amendment would ensure that the Defense Department reviews all contracts to ensure that the language of the contract clearly requires contractors to immediately correct deficiencies, such as improperly grounded equipment or facilities, which could cause death or serious bodily harm. 

In addition to preventing electrocutions, the amendment seeks to ensure safe and sanitary water and establish and enforce strict standards for preventing and prosecuting instances of sexual assault.

The amendment was adopted to the FY2010 Defense Appropriations bill.  A final vote on the Senate version of the bill is expected next week.  The bill must be conferenced with the House before it is sent to the President.

The amendment was also cosponsored by Senators Harry Reid (D-NV), John Kerry (D-MA), Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).

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