Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) issued the following statement after her amendment to stop Pentagon contracts with the Russian arms dealer Rosoboronexport was made part of the National Defense Authorization Act. The amendment passed by a vote of 423-0.
"As we have debated this bill, estimates of the death toll in Syria hit 93,000 and the Administration confirmed use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime. Yet, remarkably, US taxpayers continue to provide subsidies to Russia's arms dealer Rosoboronexport through no-bid Pentagon purchases of Mi-17 helicopters for the Afghan National Security Forces even as the firm continues to serve as the top supplier of the weapons the Syrian regime is using to fuel the tragic war. If we are going to spend U.S. taxpayer dollars to provide helicopters to the Afghan National Security Forces, we should be spending those dollars for the purchase of U.S.-made helicopters. This is simply outrageous and it must stop."
In 2012, the Army purchased 31 Mi-17s from Rosoboronexport. The President then signed into law a defense authorization bill that banned the Defense Department from using 2013 funds to enter into a contact with the Russian arms dealer. Yet, in a clear violation of the spirit of the law, the Pentagon announced in the spring it would use 2012 Afghanistan Security Forces Funds to purchase 30 more Mi-17s, a contract signing that is imminent. DeLauro and other members wrote to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel at that time urging him not to go through with that purchase. Meanwhile, the Defense Contract Audit Agency, or DCAA, attempted an audit of Rosoboronexport's pricing of Mi-17 helicopters, which the firm refused to cooperate with.
The bipartisan DeLauro amendment prohibits the Defense Department from continuing to purchase equipment from Rosoboronexport unless the Secretary of Defense certifies that the firm is cooperating with a DCAA audit, not delivering S-300 missile defense batteries to Syria, and that no new contracts have been signed by the firm with Syria since the beginning of the year. It also requires that any future contract to provide helicopters for the Afghan National Security Forces be competitively bid.