Subcommittee Chairman Condemns Trump Administration’s Refusal to Testify About Nearly Wasting $504 Million in Taxpayer Funds
Washington, D.C. (Sept. 14, 2020)—Today, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, issued the following statement in response to Assistant to the President and Director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy Peter Navarro refusing to testify before the Subcommittee about his role in the Trump Administration’s now-canceled contract with Philips Respironics that would have squandered up to $504 million in taxpayer funds if the Subcommittee had not intervened:
“Our system of government is built on the promise of accountability—that those empowered to act must answer to the American people when they squander taxpayer dollars. My Subcommittee’s investigation exposed Peter Navarro’s inept deal-making that would have wasted $504 million in taxpayer funds had we not intervened. Despite the astonishing scale of this waste; the loss of more than 190,000 lives; and his willingness to appear on the cable news shows of his choice—Mr. Navarro refuses to appear before Congress to answer for his actions. While the hearing is now cancelled, I will continue to work to unearth the potential waste, fraud, and abuse.”
On July 31, 2020, the Subcommittee issued a staff report detailing the failures of Peter Navarro in negotiating a $646.7 million ventilator contract on HHS’s behalf with Philips Respironics. Shortly after the staff report was released, HHS terminated that contract with Philips, saving taxpayers more than $400 million. In the same timeframe, HHS also terminated two smaller ventilator contracts with Hamilton Medical and Vyaire Medical.
Negotiations to secure Peter Navarro’s testimony broke down when President Trump’s White House lawyers stepped in, sending a terse letter that they would be blocking his testimony.
Today, Subcommittee Chair Krishnamoorthi sent a letter to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar requesting documents and information relating to potential generous settlements following cancelation of the ventilator contracts.
When a federal agency terminates a contract, it sometimes negotiates a termination settlement. Those termination settlements can involve payouts to the companies whose contracts were terminated.
“In terminating the contracts, HHS took an important step by publicly acknowledging and remedying hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars-worth of waste, fraud, and abuse,” Krishnamoorthi wrote. “However, I now need to ensure that the waste of taxpayer dollars on these ventilator contracts is truly addressed. American taxpayers need to know that the termination of wasteful contracts with Philips, Hamilton, and Vyaire will not be undercut by generous termination settlements that involve payoffs to these companies.”
The Subcommittee requests the documents by September 24, 2020.
Click here to read the letter to Secretary Azar.