Progressive lawmakers ask Biden not to pick defense secretary with contractor background

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Progressive lawmakers are urging President-elect Joe Biden not to pick a defense secretary with a contractor background, saying that national security “should not be defined” by corporate interest.

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Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., and Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., penned a letter to Biden on Thursday, noting that each defense secretary under the Trump administration had worked for a defense contractor at some point in their careers, claiming there has been a “revolving door” between the private sector and the Pentagon.

“Respectfully, and in full agreement with your past statements, we write to request that the next Secretary of Defense have no prior employment history with a defense contractor,” Pocan and Lee wrote.

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They went on to note that former Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who was fired from his post by the president on Monday, was employed as a lobbyist for Raytheon prior to being appointed to lead the Pentagon. They added that his predecessor, Patrick Shanahan, was a 30-year Boeing executive prior to serving in the role, and former Secretary Jim Mattis had served on the board of General Dynamics for four years before being appointed.

“Additionally, nearly half of all senior Defense Department officials are connected to military contractors,” they wrote. “Despite President Trump’s boast that he would ‘drain the swamp and hire only ‘the best people,’ he has continuously failed to do so.”

President-elect Joe Biden speaks Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020, at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

“We strongly encourage you to reject the mistaken nominations of the Trump era; and again, commit to appointing secretaries of Defense with no previous ties to defense contractors,” they added.

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Pocan, in a statement, said that “American national security should not be defined by the bottom lines of Boeing, General Dynamics and Raytheon.”

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
BABOEING COMPANY183.39+1.29+0.71%
GDGENERAL DYNAMICS CORPORATION148.82-1.47-0.98%
RTXRAYTHEON TECHNOLOGIES CORP64.41-0.97-1.48%

“Instead of draining the swamp, Donald Trump ensured that his Pentagon lined the pockets of America’s most profitable defense contractors,” he said, adding that Biden “has an opportunity to take profits out of policy and build back better.”

And Lee added that it is “past time we put an end to the backroom deals that put people over profit.”

“Appointing a Secretary of Defense without ties to defense contractors would be a tremendous step in the public’s interest, and would help restore confidence lost due to the Trump administration’s corruption,” she said.

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The Biden transition team did not immediately respond to FOX Business' request for comment.

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