Rep. Sanford Opposes Reinstatement of 1033 Program

Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

Representative Mark Sanford released the following statement in response to the administration’s decision to reinstate the so-called 1033 program, which allows the Department of Defense to transfer surplus military equipment to state and local law enforcement agencies at no cost:

“The decision to reinstate the 1033 program is a step backwards for the taxpayer. Since the Defense Department started its 1033 program in 1997, over $5 billion of surplus military property has been transferred to police departments across the country free of charge. Police departments should certainly have what they need to accomplish their work on a day-to-day basis, but I think there are obvious flaws in trying to do this through the 1033 program.

“With nearly $20 trillion in debt, I don’t think that the federal government can afford to give away anything for free. Doing so overstates the cost of federal government and understates the cost of local governments who get this equipment at no cost. We value the things we pay for an often take for granted the things we don’t. I saw the abuses of this program when I was Governor. I will never forget the impression made when I walked into a small county sheriff's office and was told the sheriff was out taking helicopter he could use one of the seven helicopters his office had gotten for ‘free.’

“This program also incentivizes the militarization of local police departments, as they are encouraged to grab more equipment than they need. In some cases, they even stockpile equipment generally found on battlefields since it’s ‘free,’ and this is neither good for the taxpayer nor the local communities.

“In an effort to curtail this program, I introduced a bill last Congress - the Responsible Law Enforcement Acquisition Act of 2016 - to replace the zero-cost transfer system with an auction system, where registered police units can bid on surplus military equipment. The proceeds would be sent to the US Treasury, and accordingly, my bill would work to balance the interests of local law enforcement with taxpayers. The police would still have the ability to purchase military equipment at the federal auction. But by requiring that they be purchased, the bill helps to pay for the federal debt, while motivating police departments to prioritize their purchases to equipment they really need to serve their communities.”