What: All Issues : Government Checks on Corporate Power : Oil & Gas Industry : H.R. 3289. Fiscal 2004 Supplemental Appropriations for Iraq and Afghanistan/Vote to Require Competitive Bidding on Oil Contracts in Iraq. (2003 house Roll Call 557)
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H.R. 3289. Fiscal 2004 Supplemental Appropriations for Iraq and Afghanistan/Vote to Require Competitive Bidding on Oil Contracts in Iraq.
house Roll Call 557     Oct 17, 2003
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In January 2003, the Bush Administration awarded a no-bid, $50 million contract to Halliburton to restore damages to Iraq's oil fields. By October 1, 2003, the value of Halliburton's contract had grown to $1.4 billion. In response to the tripling of Halliburton's contract, Representative Waxman (D-CA) initiated several inquiries to determine how exactly the additional monies were being spent. After a round of fact-finding, it became clear to Waxman and others that Halliburton was overcharging the federal government to import and sell gasoline in Iraq. According to an analysis by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service-a federal agency that provides lawmakers with policy research upon request-the average price of gasoline in the Middle East was approximately seventy-one cents. However, according to Waxman, Halliburton was charging the U.S. government $1.70 per gallon of gasoline. Waxman and other Progressives characterized Halliburton's actions as price-gouging and presented evidence that the oil company had overcharged the U.S. government by $250 million. Equally troubling to Progressives, however, was the financial stake of Vice President Cheney-Halliburton's former CEO-in the company. According to Cheney's financial disclosures to the IRS, the Vice President received $205,000 in 2001 and $165,000 in 2002 from the company. According to the IRS, the Vice President expects similar amounts of "deferred" compensation in 2003, 2004, and 2005 as well. In an effort to eliminate any conflicts-of-interest over the awarding of contracts in Iraq among members of the Bush Administration, Congressman Sherman (D-CA) offered an amendment to the $87 billion supplemental spending request which would have required normal competitive bidding procedures for all government contracts involving work on Iraq's oil infrastructure. Progressives endorsed Sherman's proposal as a way to insure that the most qualified-and not the most well-connected-companies are awarded taxpayer-funded contracts for rebuilding Iraq. Conservatives opposed the measure and argued that unanticipated contingencies in Iraq-such as a broken oil pipeline-require immediate action. A drawn-out competitive bidding procedure, Conservatives argued, could undermine the effectiveness of the U.S. reconstruction effort. Democrats voted unanimously in favor of Sherman's amendment and, on a 248-173 vote, the measure was adopted and requirements for competitive bidding on oil contracts were included in the underlying supplemental spending bill.

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