Back in March, Congress gave the Pentagon $1 billion to combat coronavirus and build up the country’s medical supplies. But instead, the Pentagon diverted most of the money to defense contractors to make things like jet engine parts, body armor, uniforms, and other military equipment.
The money was part of the Cares Act, a $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill. It was allocated to the Pentagon under the Defense Production Act, which allows the president to direct companies to manufacture certain products.
The funds were given to the Pentagon to “prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.” The Washington Post reported that shortly after the stimulus was passed, the Pentagon began funneling hundreds of millions of dollars to defense contractors.
Some of the awards the Pentagon handed out were disclosed by the Post. $183 million went to companies including Rolls Royce and ArcelorMittal to maintain shipbuilding. $80 million went to a Kansas aircraft parts business, tens of millions went towards satellite, drone, and space surveillance technology, and $2 million went to a domestic manufacturer of US Army uniforms.
Some companies that accepted this hand out from the Pentagon also received money from another bailout fund, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The Post found that at least 10 of the 30 companies that received money from the Pentagon also received PPP money.
Portions of the money were doled out to smaller firms, including a group of companies that work on drone technology. But larger firms also received bailout money, like GE Aviation, a subsidiary of General Electric, that received $75 million in June.