Remember when U.S. Sen. Henry Jackson used to be called “the senator from Boeing?” I always thought U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks inherited the mantle when he championed the B-2 Stealth bomber, which was a nice piece of defense work for Boeing.
But Washington’s U.S. Sen. Patty Murray is definitely Boeing’s pit bull now. After blasting the Air Force today on the Senate floor for stiffing Boeing on the bit air tanker competition, she’s going at it again Wednesday. This word from Murray’s office:
At between 10–10:30 AM ET/ 7-7:30 AM PT tomorrow morning (3/5) Senator Murray will again deliver a speech on the Senate floor deriding the Air Force for choosing the French company Airbus. Her speech tomorrow will focus on faulty claims made by Airbus on the American jobs they’ll create and the company’s checkered history. Senator Murray will also continue to discuss her opposition to outsourcing our military capabilities.
The speech can be seen on C-SPAN 2 in Washington state.
Here’s a snippet from an AP wire story that just moved:
The Kansas congressional delegation on Tuesday asked Defense Secretary Robert Gates to suspend its award of the tanker contract until Congress can review the decision. "Based on initial discussions with Air Force officials and media leaks, the Air Forces ratings of each competitor appear unfair, incomplete, and at times illogical," the lawmakers wrote in a letter. "A thorough review is warranted and necessary."
Another snippet from the TNT’s man in D.C., Les Blumenthal:
The Air Force’s top acquisitions officer, Sue Payton, will testify before the House Appropriations defense subcommittee. Washington state Rep. Norm Dicks is a senior Democrat on the subcommittee, and Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Kan., is also a member. The bulk of the work on the Boeing tanker would have been done in Washington state and Kansas.
“We have a lot of questions, and we want to let the Air Force know we think they made the wrong decision,” Dicks said. “We want this plane built by an American company. This is a crown jewel of technology and we are going to give it to the French.”
And finally, from a neutral corner, courtesy of The New York Times:
Sen. John W. Warner, R-Va., the senior Republican on the Armed Services Committee and a respected voice on defense issues, predicted that Airbus and Northrop Grumman likely would prevail.
"We’re going to get this thing," Warner said. "I predict this plane will be started."
Warner said the Air Force’s plan to replace the refueling tankers has already been delayed too long, and shouldn’t be put off any longer. "I am going to support the contract," he said.