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Ms. DeLAURO. Mr. Chairman, my amendment would strengthen a prohibition unanimously supported last year to stop the Defense Department from purchasing equipment from the Russian arms dealer Rosoboronexport.
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, U.S. taxpayers continue to provide subsidies to Russia's arms dealer through no-bid Pentagon purchases of Mi-17 helicopters, even as the firm continues to serve as the top supplier of the weapons the Syrian regime is using to fuel the tragic war.
In fact, the Russian arms dealer recently took an order from the Syrian Army for a wide range of weaponry, and the possibility remains that Russia may provide Syria with S-300 air defense systems.
It is unacceptable that at the same time the Pentagon is purchasing Mi-17 helicopters for the Afghan National Security Forces from Rosoboronexport through no-bid contracts that do not allow U.S. companies to compete.
Last year, the Army purchased 31 Mi-17s from the Russian arms dealer. The President then signed into law last year's defense bill banning the Pentagon from using 2013 funds to enter into a contract with the Russian arms dealer. Yet, in a clear violation of the spirit of the law, DOD announced in April it would use 2012 Afghanistan Security Forces funds to purchase 30 more Mi-17s, a contract signing that is imminent. 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. This is outrageous.
My bipartisan amendment prohibits the Pentagon from purchasing equipment from the Russian arms maker unless the Secretary certifies the firm is cooperating with DCAA, not delivering S-300 missile defense batteries to Syria, and has not signed new contracts with Syria since the beginning of the year. The amendment also requires that any new contract for helicopters for the Afghans be competitively bid.
The Defense Department should not engage in contracts with companies arming the Syrian regime. This can and must stop. Furthermore, if we are going to spend U.S. taxpayers' dollars to provide helicopters to the Afghan National Security Forces, we should spend those dollars for the purchase of U.S.-made helicopters.
I urge support for my amendment and reserve the balance of my time.
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