Dozens of lawmakers have signed a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew urging them to impose sanctions on a Russian arms exporter that the Pentagon is procuring helicopters from.
The effort to rally opposition to Russian company Rosoboronexport, which the Pentagon is procuring Mi-17 helicopters from for the Afghan National Security Forces, was led by Reps. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn.; Kay Granger, R-Texas; Elizabeth Esty, D-Ill.; and Jack Kingston, R-Ga.
The signers, of whom there are 38, express their "deep concern" over the contracts "given Russia's recent actions that violate the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, including its support of the illegal referendum for Crimean separation."
In 2013, the Pentagon entered into a $553.8 million contract to purchase 30 Mi-17 helicopters from the Russian state's arms dealer. Twenty-four of the helicopters have not been delivered, the letter says.
The president's recent executive orders expanding sanctions on Russia, the lawmakers argue, give Lew and Kerry the authority to sanction Rosoboronexport and block further payments.
"We strongly urge you to use your authority to ensure that U.S. taxpayer dollars are not sent to Russia's state-arms dealer," they wrote.
The letter is expected to be released later Friday, along with a full list of lawmakers who signed it.
Friday's push is the latest in a bipartisan campaign to pressure the Obama administration to stop its dealings with the Russian company. DeLauro and Granger headed up a similar letter in March to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, and a group of senators have urged the president to end the Pentagon's relationship with Rosoboronexport.
This story was first published at 11:16 a.m. and has been updated with a copy of the letter.