Cornyn: Obama Wants Us to Believe Funding Assad's Arms Supplier Is a Security Interest

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) slammed the Obama administration for "getting around" his amendment that blocked contracts for Bashar al-Assad' main arms supplier.

The Pentagon announced Monday that it has awarded a contract to Russia’s Rosoboronexport. The $572,180,894 firm-fixed-price contract modification is for 30 Mi-17 helicopters, spare parts, test equipment, and engineering support services for the Afghan National Army.

“I sponsored an amendment to prohibit the use of taxpayer dollars in America to enter into contracts or agreements with Rosoboronexport. My amendment had strong bipartisan support, and it passed unanimously," Cornyn said.

“So how did the Obama Administration get around my amendment? Well, they argued that the Rosoboronexport contact was in our national-security interests. In other words: they want us to believe that we are promoting U.S. security by doing business with a Russian arms dealer that is helping an anti-American, terror-sponsoring dictatorship commit mass atrocities."

Cornyn spent much of last year lobbying the Pentagon to seek other alternatives for the helicopters instead of awarding the no-bid contract to Rosoboronexport.

"Now they are refusing to complete that audit, on the grounds that Rosoboronexport simply has refused to cooperate," he said. “Meanwhile, my office has learned that Army officials within the Non-Standard Rotary Wing Aviation office -- whose primary focus is the Mi-17 program -- are the subjects of an ongoing criminal investigation. This obviously raises troubling questions about whether the terms of the new Mi-17 procurement contract resulted from criminal misconduct."

“I want to take this opportunity to say, once again, that American taxpayers should not be indirectly subsidizing the murder of Syrian civilians, especially when there are perfectly good alternatives to dealing with Rosoboronexport.”