WASHINGTON, Oct. 4 (UPI) -- A bill that would bring government-contracted employees working overseas under U.S. law was approved overwhelmingly by the House of Representatives Thursday.
The House voted 389-30 to approve the bill its sponsor says would close a legal loophole for accountability of overseas contract employees for misconduct. The measure would extend the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act to cover all contractors working for the government in a war zone.
"Our military is the best fighting force in the world today, in large part because it is structured in a way that demands accountability, discipline and unity of action," sponsor Rep. David Price, D-N.C., said. "But there is no clear chain of command for contractors, little in the way of standards for training and vetting personnel, and no legal accountability for misconduct."
Contract employees working for the Defense Department are covered under U.S. law, he said. Other contractors, such as Blackwater USA, work for the State Department and other agencies and are not necessarily held liable for criminal activity under current law.
Blackwater is the focus of several investigations following a Sept. 16 incident in which its employees escorting a U.S. Embassy convoy shot and killed Iraqi citizens.