Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 9, 2016

GOP Senators Ask If Bergdahl Swap Broke Spending Law

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Nine Republican appropriators are questioning whether the Pentagon ran afoul of a law that prevents spending funds without approval from Congress in the move to transfer five Taliban leaders to Qatar.

The letter, spearheaded by Thad Cochran of Mississippi, the top Republican on the Defense subcommittee, asks the Government Accountability Office to review the move for possible violations of the federal spending law known as the Antideficiency Act.

“We are writing to request your legal opinion regarding whether the Department of Defense (DOD) incurred obligations in violation of section 8111 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014 with regard to the transfer of five individuals from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the nation of Qatar,” the senators wrote in a letter to Comptroller General Gene Dodaro.

The transfer of the senior Taliban figures came about as part of the swap that freed Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl from Taliban custody in Afghanistan.

In addition to Cochran, the signatories are Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Appropriations ranking member Richard C. Shelby of Alabama, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Dan Coats of Indiana and Roy Blunt of Missouri.

“If, indeed, DOD’s obligation of appropriated funds runs afoul of section 8111, we also seek your legal opinion as to whether DOD has violated the Antideficiency Act,” the senators wrote.

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