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December 03, 2019

King Criticizes Military Housing Contractors Not Providing Safe Units for Servicemembers and Families

To applause, Senator suggests “I don’t think [contractors] should be paid even the basic rent if they’re not renting safe and habitable units”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) pressed top military officials to explain and resolve severe shortcomings by contractors that create unsafe living conditions for some American servicemembers and their families. At bases nationwide, military spouses and servicemembers have reported harmful, dangerous living conditions in privatized, on-base housing including mold contamination, dangerous temperatures, and pest infestations. Senator King’s remarks came during a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee that featured top military leaders. During the hearing, he underscored the importance of proper enforcement of housing contracts and greater accountability within the military chain of command. Senator King had previously emphasized these challenges at a March hearing, urging the military to designate a position to be fully responsible for the enforcement of these housing contracts.

“I can’t believe the basic requirement of that contract wasn’t safe and healthy, habitable units,” said Senator King. “…I don’t think [contractors] should be paid even the basic rent if they’re not renting safe and habitable units – forget about incentives… My experience in this kind of work is that implementation is as important as vision. And my sense is there are differences in the contracts, but there are basic provisions that they have to be safe and healthy, they have to meet codes, and that, I believe, not having seen the contracts myself, but I believe that this is really mostly an implementation problem. And then my question is: who’s in charge? Is it the base commander? Is it a base housing officer? Is it the Secretary of the Navy? Is it the Secretary of Defense? There’s got to be somebody who can be held accountable here in what looks like endemic non-enforcement.”

Witnesses before the Senate Armed Services Committee today include Elizabeth Field, Director, Defense Capabilities And Management, Government Accountability Office; Ryan McCarthy, Secretary Of The Army; Thomas Modly, Acting Secretary Of The Navy; Barbara Barrett, Secretary Of The Air Force; General James McConville, Chief Of Staff Of The Army; Admiral Michael Gilday, Chief Of Naval Operations; General David Berger, Commandant Of The Marine Corps; General David Goldfein, Chief Of Staff Of The Air Force.

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