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Ernst: Taxpayers Win in the ‘War on Waste’ in Annual Defense Bill

The Iowa senator secured a number of key measures that hold the Pentagon accountable, increase transparency, and help rid the department of duplication

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), known as the Senate’s leading foe of wasteful government spending, won important victories in her ‘War on Waste’ in the Fiscal Year ‘21 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that could potentially save taxpayers billions of dollars.

“I’m glad to report that Iowa taxpayers, and folks across the country, won a battle in the ‘War on Waste’ in this year’s defense bill. Through my efforts, we’ve made spending more transparent, curbed needless duplication, and we’re holding accountable, not rewarding, bad behavior and questionable actions by the Pentagon,” said Senator Ernst.  

“Taxpayers have a right to know how much money the Defense Department wastes on boondoggles like hooking animals on cocaine and putting pigs on treadmills. We applaud combat veteran Senator Joni Ernst for championing this important transparency measure to require price tags on often-wasteful Pentagon spending so taxpayers can hold government accountable. Now, the Senate must pass Senator Ernst’s common sense COST Act—which is supported by a supermajority of Americans—to ensure all federal agencies and their grantees publicly disclose how they spend taxpayers’ hard-earned money,” said Anthony Bellotti, president and founder of taxpayer watchdog group White Coat Waste Project.

“Senator Ernst’s transparency provision is a welcome reform that gives taxpayers the information they need to help keep government accountable and limited to purpose. Too often, federal spending, including funding that goes through the Department of Defense, does little to enhance our national and economic security. Setting priorities is especially critical now as our nation struggles to recover from the effects of COVID-19. We need a more efficient and transparent government to help us grow at home and compete abroad. This is an important and timely victory for America’s taxpayers, families, farmers and small businesses,” said Adam Andrzejewski, CEO and founder of


Through Ernst’s COST Act—which was included in this year’s NDAA-- grant recipients who get money from the Pentagon will now be required to include a price tag disclosing the cost to taxpayers for their military research. Ernst has highlighted a number of questionable projects supported by DOD funding, including Navy research analyzing puppy personalities to determine why canines are so doggone friendly and an Air Force report on how to develop psychic teleportation to use mind powers to travel through parallel universes and to alien planets.

Senator Ernst also won on an amendment to get the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to investigate the most expensive cost overruns in weapon systems and forces to Pentagon to disclose to Congress their top 10 most expensive weapons to fix and maintain.


Under Senator Ernst’s leadership as the chairman of the Emerging Threats and Capabilities subcommittee, the FY21 NDAA cut $300 million in research and development programs that were wasteful, duplicative, or not a priority. This funding was redirected towards urgent research needs, such as getting a deployable vaccine for our troops and for funding Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) programs.

Senator Ernst also successfully passed an amendment to require the most senior science and technology leaders to meet to discuss their research to ensure that it is coordinated and the Pentagon doesn’t continue to try to fund the same research more than once.


Another Ernst win, the GAO – Congress’ watchdog for waste – will investigate if the billions of dollars in bonuses paid to defense contractors, for projects that are over budget or behind schedule, are warranted.