Sen. Murray Announces Victory on 767 Tanker Deal

Nov 06 2003

Lease-Purchase compromise will speed equipment to Air Force,
ensure local jobs


(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray today announced an agreement to speed the delivery of 100 Boeing air refueling tankers to the men and women of America’s Air Force. Joined by Washington state colleagues Sen. Maria Cantwell, Rep. Rick Larsen and Rep. Norm Dicks, Murray applauded the compromise plan calling it a “shot in the arm” for Washington’s economy, working families and the men and women who risk their lives defending our freedom.

In a letter from Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz to Sen. John Warner (R-Va.), Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee and ranking member Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), the Pentagon agreed to a compromise on the lease of the Boeing 767s. The Warner-Levin proposal allows the Air Force to lease 20 tankers and provides a formula to purchase an additional 80 aircraft at a steady rate of 11 to 13 per year until the final plane is delivered in FY 2014.

“These planes are critical, not only for the thousands of Washington state workers who will build them, but also for our brave tanker crews who will fly them,” Murray said. “I’ve had the honor of meeting with some of these courageous men and women who fly with the 92nd Air Refueling Wing based at Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane. I promised them the best equipment available and today we’re delivering on that promise.”

Two weeks ago, Murray and Cantwell met with Senators Warner and Levin to discuss their compromise proposal. When Warner and Levin introduced their proposal on the Senate floor on October 23rd, both Murray and Cantwell made statements on the Senate floor supporting the Warner-Levin plan. Murray’s Statement

“This agreement means more jobs and a strong national defense,” Murray said. “The men and women in Everett should crank up the 767 line – we’re sending a hundred plane order their way.”

A complete transcript of her remarks at today’s press conference follows:

“We’re here today to celebrate a victory – for our military men and women, for taxpayers, and for our economy.

After 2 years of work, I’m proud to announce that we have a plan for – the Air Force to get 100 tankers, and for Washington state workers to build them.

This is a shot in the arm for our economy, for our working families, and for the brave men and women who risk their lives defending our freedom.

Two years ago, our country was attacked. Suddenly, we had to project sustained military force around the world, and we had to do it quickly.

But we found that our old, outdated tanker fleet was too often down for repairs, and costs a fortune to maintain.

And two years ago, the bottom fell out of the aerospace industry – hurting working families throughout Washington state.

The people in this room went to work with the Air Force, Boeing and our colleagues in Congress, and the Boeing Tanker deal was born.

I went to Fairchild Air Force base in Spokane, Washington and talked with the brave men and women who fly these tankers. I promised to give them the best equipment we could, and today we’re delivering on that promise.

These planes are the backbone of our military’s global reach. They help support and equip our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines around the globe. As they risk their lives, we’ve got to give the best equipment available.

And this deal is a victory for Washington’s economy. We’ve taken a lot of hits lately, but this deal means Washington workers will design and build a critical Air Force asset.

Success has many authors and I want to thank my colleagues: Senator Stevens, Senator Warner, Senator Levin, Senator Cantwell, Senator Conrad, and Senator Inouye.

On the House side, I want to thank Congressman Dicks, Congressman Larsen, and Speaker Hastert.

This agreement means more jobs and a strong defense and I’ve got one thing to say to the men and women who work at the Everett plant: Crank up the 767 line – we’re sending a hundred plane order your way!”