DeLauro strips Pentagon of money to train helicopter pilots

Washington — Rep. Rosa DeLauro, a Democrat whose district is home to Sikorsky, won approval for a provision in the 2014 defense appropriations bill that would prohibit the Pentagon from spending any money training Afghan pilots on Russian-made helicopters.

DeLauro was successful last year in putting a ban on the Defense Department’s purchase of those helicopters, made by Rosoboronexport.

But the Pentagon avoided the ban by saying it used money appropriated before it went into effect to buy 30 new Russian helicopters in June. The contract is worth $554 million.

“Time and again, the Defense Department has ignored Congress’ clear message that they need to stop purchasing helicopters from Rosoboronexport,” DeLauro said.

The House is expected to vote late Wednesday on the defense bill – with DeLauro’s amendment.

The bill is expected to pass, but its fate is unclear. The House defense bill does not contain sequester cuts for the military. But Senate leaders are unsure whether they should spare the Pentagon from budget cuts and have not moved on a defense appropriations bill.