Warren gets recusal provision into defense bill

By Tony Bertuca / July 23, 2021 at 2:12 PM

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) spearheaded the inclusion of a provision in her chamber's upcoming defense policy bill that would extend the required time Pentagon officials must recuse themselves from matters involving companies where they have been previously employed.

The current recusal period for defense officials is two years, but Warren's provision would extend it to four years. The recusal extension would be similar to a pledge Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has made, along with other defense nominees.

Prior to becoming defense secretary, Austin sat on the board of Raytheon Technologies.

"I was glad to see a bipartisan group of my Senate Armed Services Committee colleagues approve my plan to toughen up ethics standards at the Pentagon," Warren said in a statement. "In the future, when defense officials want to spin through the revolving door between industry and government, they'll be banned from working on issues pertaining to their former employer, clients, or competitors for four years instead of two. That's a start, and I will be fighting until all of the stronger ethics standards in my Department of Defense Ethics and Anti-Corruption Act are made into law."

Warren had placed holds on Air Force Secretary nominee Frank Kendall and Heidi Shyu, who was recently confirmed as under secretary of defense for research and engineering, but lifted them when the nominees agreed to extend their recusal periods from two to four years. Both Kendall and Shyu have served as senior defense officials in the past, but both have numerous industry ties from their time in the private sector.

Warren, however, was not successful in her attempt to get Kendall and Shyu to agree to not seek employment with or compensation from any defense contractor for at least four years after completion of their government service. Austin, however, has agreed to the post-government employment restriction.