Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama pledged Tuesday to prioritize rooting out waste, fraud and abuse in the federal government if the Senate confirms him as the next attorney general.
Sessions used his opening statement of his confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary to emphasize that he believes the federal government must accelerate efforts “to protect the United States Treasury from waste, fraud and abuse.”
“We cannot afford to lose a single dollar to corruption and you can be sure that if I am confirmed, I will make it a high priority of the (Department of Justice) to root out and prosecute fraud in federal programs and to recover any monies lost due to fraud or false claims,” Sessions said in his prepared remarks.
Sessions’ attitude is in marked contrast to his predecessors appointed by President Barack Obama, Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch. Prosecutions of public corruption declined under Obama, compared to the administrations of President George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. (RELATED: Obama Prosecuting Fewer Government Crooks Than Bush, Clinton)
If he is confirmed, Sessions will be the country’s top law enforcement officer, wielding the authority to decide when the Department of Justice will prosecute cases involving waste, fraud and abuse referred to it by executive branch Inspectors General (IG).
Citizens Against Government Waste gives Sessions a 97 percent lifetime rating for protecting taxpayer dollars since he joined the Senate in 1997.
The federal government has no official overall estimate of how much is lost each year to waste, fraud and abuse, but the total is thought to be in excess of $200 billion. The IGs were created in 1978 following widespread media reporting of extensive contract fraud at the General Services Administration. (RELATED: Congress To Investigate Alleged $125 Billion Waste By Pentagon)
The Government Accountability Office estimated taxpayers lost $137 billion to agencies’ improper payments alone in 2015.
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