After Trump Weighs In on JEDI, GOP Lawmakers Say Keep Out of It

Ranking Member Mac Thornberry, D-Texas, speaks at a House Armed Services Committee budget hearing for the Departments of the Army and Air Force in Washington, D.C., on April 2, 2019.

AP / Andrew Harnik

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Ranking Member Mac Thornberry, D-Texas, speaks at a House Armed Services Committee budget hearing for the Departments of the Army and Air Force in Washington, D.C., on April 2, 2019.

Four members of the House Armed Services Committee asked Trump to let the Pentagon award its Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure contract without delay.

One day after President Trump said he was “looking into” the Pentagon’s $10 billion JEDI cloud contract, four Republican lawmakers from the House Armed Services Committee are asking him to stay out of it.

The Pentagon is currently weighing competing bids from tech giants Microsoft and Amazon for the right to build a cloud that would host, store and analyze a wide range of sensitive and classified military data available to warfighters and policymakers around the world.

A letter authored by HASC Ranking Member Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, and committee members Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., Michael Turner, R-Ohio and Robert Wittman, R-VA., asks Trump to ignore outside complaints about the contract and let the Defense Department award the contract to keep pace technological pace with foreign adversaries, including China. 

“We believe that it is essential for our national security to move forward as quickly as possible with the award and implementation of this contract,” said the Republican lawmakers, who sit on one of the two Congressional committees with Pentagon oversight responsibilities. “It meets only a portion of DOD’s needs for cloud, but it is an important first step. Moving to the cloud will help DOD operate faster, more efficiently and compete with adversaries, like China.

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“Our committee has conducted oversight of this contract from the beginning. As you know, the courts have upheld DOD’s handling of this competition. While it is understandable that some of the companies competing for the contract are disappointed at not being selected as one of the finalists, further unnecessary delays will only damage our security and increase the costs of the contract.”

In remarks made Thursday, Trump mentioned complaints from Microsoft—which is a finalist for the contract—as well as Oracle and IBM, which had their bids for the contract tossed out for not meeting certain baseline criteria. Oracle lost its eight-month lawsuit over the contract last week in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims after alleging conflicts of interest between Amazon Web Services and the Defense Department. IBM had its bid protest dismissed procedurally in December by the Government Accountability Office.

In a June appearance on Tucker Carlson’s show on Fox, influential Republican Rep. Mark Meadows called the Amazon allegations “incredible” and called for an investigation. Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, who chairs the Senate’s Homeland Security Committee, asked acting Defense Secretary Mark Esper in a late June letter to hold off on awarding JEDI until an investigation is completed. According to the Associated Press, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said JEDI’s bidding process should be restarted. 

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