In her speech,
“I think it makes absolutely no sense that we would on the one hand, haul Airbus before an international dispute settlement organization, while on the other hand, award it one of the largest defense contracts in history – a contract that will make it a major U.S. defense supplier for decades and further erode the American aerospace industry,” Murray said in her speech. “It’s as if you caught a thief in the act of stealing your car, but instead of turning him in – handed him the keys and gave him your wallet too.”
Defense Secretary has raised serious questions about leadership and oversight at the Air Force, and I think that given those concerns, we must examine this contract very carefully, demand that the Air Force explain its decision in detail, and consider whether it’s in our best interest for EA DS to supply these tankers,” said. Murray
The following is Senator Murray’s speech as prepared for delivery:
Mr. President, last week, the
Mr. President, I have come to the floor today because Secretary Gates’s move raises red flags about many of the Air Force’s recent actions – including the decision to award a $35 billion contract to build the next generation of aerial refueling tankers to the European company Airbus, instead of Boeing. This is one of the largest contracts in history. And it’s critically important. Our tankers refuel planes and aircraft from every single branch of our military. As long as we control the technology to build them, we control our skies and our security.
So I was astounded when the Air Force announced in February that it would award this contract to Airbus – and here’s why: Airbus and its parent company European Aeronautic
Given this history, I have asked repeatedly over the last three months that Air Force leaders explain how they came to their decision. After all, the Air Force is well aware of these concerns. And I believe the American taxpayers deserve answers. But I have been stonewalled again and again. And so, as the Pentagon moves to restore leadership and oversight at the Air Force, I hope that we will finally get some answers.
We Have Accused EA
Let me begin by talking about the unfair trade practices that led the
Mr. President, back in 1970, several European governments created Airbus to challenge our country’s aerospace dominance. But unlike Boeing, which is a private business operating in a free-market system – Airbus follows the corporate welfare model.
The United States Trade Representative is so concerned that this has created an uneven playing field, that we have demanded
Mr. President, it’s as if you caught a thief in the act of stealing your car, but instead of turning him in – handed him the keys and gave him your wallet too.
But it’s not just a matter of one government branch contradicting another. It was that illegal system that allowed Airbus to develop the A-330. Airbus’s tanker received millions of dollars in launch aid, which significantly reduced its production costs.
Boeing spent decades developing the technology and training the workforce to supply our military’s tankers. Boeing has made American refueling tankers for more than 50 years. Our workers made them with pride – knowing that they were helping to fortify our military strength.
But with this decision, we are letting it all slip away. And once our workers move on to something else, we can’t just recreate it all over night. And I think that we as a Congress – and as a nation – need to think long and hard about whether that is the best decision for our national security.
But Mr. President, it isn’t just
Mr. President, five years ago, when Airbus was first working to unravel Boeing’s tanker contract, Airbus and EA
Well, as you can imagine, I was skeptical. So I asked the Commerce
And then, Airbus did something funny – it decreased the number of contracts it said it had made from 800 down to 300. And then it increased the alleged value of those contracts from $5 billion a year to $6 billion. As I said at the time, “You just can’t trust Airbus’s funny numbers.”
And the same is true today. When you scrutinize the facts, Airbus’s numbers just don’t hold up. This time, Airbus says it will finish its tankers here in the
And, Mr. President, I can’t think of a worse time for a worse decision. Last month, our country saw the biggest increase in unemployment in more than two decades. And that was on top of a mortgage and credit crisis and skyrocketing gas prices.
Now, the Air Force has said that it didn’t have to consider jobs when it considered Airbus’s bid – and so it hasn’t even tried to justify its decision. But I believe that, as members of Congress, we must look long and hard at whether this contract is in the best interests of American workers and the American economy – especially at a time when families are struggling just to get by.
Finally, Mr. President, I have serious concerns about giving a company – owned by foreign governments – control over our military technology. Airbus and EA
Here are just two examples:
In 2005, EA
And in 2006, EA
Now – as with the other questions I’ve raised today – I’ve repeatedly asked the Air Force whether we can trust a foreign company to keep our military’s best interests in mind – particularly one that has a history of trying to sell weapons and military technology to unfriendly countries. And I haven’t gotten an answer to this one either.
Mr. President, this is a critically important matter. What happens if
With Changes in Air Force Leadership We Must
Mr. President, I’ve just detailed three very serious concerns about Airbus and EA
Now, the bidding process for the tanker contract was so flawed that Boeing has filed its first-ever protest of a defense contract decision with the Government Accountability Office. And we are all awaiting the GAO decision. But the GAO can only look at whether the Air Force followed procurement laws and regulations. It can’t answer whether the Air Force should have awarded Airbus the contract in the first place.
Congress must ask that question.
Now, Mr. President, I have raised that question in hearings – in letters to Pentagon officials – and in face-to-face meetings. Yet no one at the Air Force – or the Pentagon – or even the White House – has even begun to justify why we should award a $35 billion contract to supply the linchpin of our military strength to a company that another branch of our government has accused of illegal business practices, one that distorts its record, and that doesn’t have our national security interests at heart
As I said at the beginning of my remarks, the
As I have said before, we owe it to our taxpayers to get answers. And we owe it to our service members to get answers. And I hope that with new leadership and oversight at the Air Force, we will get them.