A $1 billion fund Congress gave the Pentagon in March to build up the country’s supplies of medical equipment has instead been mostly funneled to defense contractors and used for making things such as jet engine parts, body armor and dress uniforms…

“This is part and parcel of whether we have budget priorities that actually serve our public safety or whether we have a government that is captured by special interests,” said Mandy Smithberger, a defense analyst at the Project on Government Oversight, a watchdog group.

The $1 billion fund is just a fraction of the $3 trillion in emergency spending that Congress approved earlier this year to deal with the pandemic. But it shows how the blizzard of bailout cash was — in some cases — redirected to firms that weren’t originally targeted for assistance. It also shows how difficult it has been for officials to track how money is spent and — in the case of Congress — intervene when changes are made. The Trump administration has done little to limit the defense firms from accessing multiple bailout funds at once and is not requiring the companies to refrain from layoffs as a condition of receiving the awards.