News Releases

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) delivered a speech on the Senate floor that highlighted the jobs and military technology that would go to Airbus, a European based company, under the $40 billion contract the Air Force has awarded them to build our aerial refueling tankers. 

The full text of Senator Murray's speech follows:

Madam President, I’ve come to the floor today because we have to wake up this country.  

We are at risk of losing a major part of our aerospace industry to the Europeans forever.  

And I am outraged that the Pentagon is not only going to:

  • stand by and let it happen
  • but that it’s the Pentagon that made the decision in the first place.

I’m referring, of course, to the Air Force’s decision on Friday to award one of the largest military contracts in history to the French company Airbus – over the American company Boeing.

With this $40 billion contract, our Air Force is beginning the process of rebuilding our aerial refueling tanker fleet.  And the planes we are purchasing will be used for the next 30 years or more.

We’re Handing Airbus Control of our Technology

As we learn more about this decision, I grow more astounded at its shortsightedness.

Madam President, as I speak today, Airbus does not actually supply this military capability to any government.

The tanker the Administration wants Airbus to build is unproven.  In fact, in my home state of Washington, the machinists call it a “paper airplane” because it only exists on paper.

Right now, the company that supplies those planes is Boeing.  And it has built them for about 50 years.

Up until now, we have controlled our own military refueling capabilities.  

But with this decision, we are handing Airbus that control.

What makes this so disturbing is that we’re outsourcing those jobs to a company that has spent years blatantly working to dismantle the American aerospace industry.

Airbus is a European Jobs Program

Madam President, Airbus is controlled by foreign governments, which follow the social welfare model.  

Those countries subsidize Airbus, allowing it to sell planes at discounted rates – all as long as it creates jobs for European workers.  

Our government is concerned enough about this practice that we have a WTO case against the EU.

But apparently that didn’t matter to this Administration.  Because by giving Airbus this contract, we are laying out the welcome mat to walk all over our military production capability.

What’s the incentive to buy an American-made tanker, if they can get an import at fire-sale prices.

With this contract we’re allowing Airbus to take over our military technology – and we’re actually paying them to do it.

How Many Airbus Jobs Will Be Created?

Now, Airbus has launched a slick marketing campaign to try to convince Congress and the public that this decision will actually be good for the United States.

I spoke on the floor at length yesterday about Airbus’s long history of exaggerating the number of American jobs it has produced.

And I think it’s very interesting that while Airbus has put its supporters on radio and TV over here to talk about how excited they are about the number of U.S. jobs this deal will create – the news in Europe is about 180 degrees different.

Reuters ran an article datelined out of Paris yesterday, reporting that Airbus’s parent company EADS was scrambling to clarify that NO jobs would be relocated from Europe to the United States.

And a British publication earlier this week reported that almost all of the construction work will be done in Europe.  Then Airbus will fly the plane to the U.S. for finishing.

Madam President, if Boeing had won the contract, it would have created 44,000 U.S. jobs.

By awarding this contract to Airbus, the U.S. government is leading those jobs to the guillotine.

Now, the most frustrating thing about all of this is that the Air Force has insisted on defending this decision.

Yesterday – according to The Associated Press and other news outlets – one official testified to the House that the Pentagon didn’t have to consider the location of assembly and manufacturing facilities for those planes.  

All it needed was the promise by Airbus that it would team with Northrop Grumman and U.S. suppliers.

So in other words, the Air Force didn’t consider – at all – Airbus’s record of playing unfair on trade.  

It didn’t consider – at all – the number of jobs we will certainly lose because of this contract.  

And it didn’t consider – at all – what this could mean for our ability to produce our own military technology.

When we’re at war across the globe, I think we should at least consider what it means to give a company – owned by foreign governments – control over our military technology.

And I think we should do it before we finalize this deal.

Airbus and EADS have already given us plenty of reason to worry about how hard they will work to protect our security interests.

Madam President, here are just two examples:

  • In 2005, EADS was caught trying to sell military helicopters to Iran.
  • And in 2006, EADS tried to sell transport and patrol planes to Venezuela – a circumvention of U.S. law. 

Suppose Europe and the U.S. have a major disagreement over foreign policy?

Do we want France or any other country to have the ability to slow down our military capacity because it doesn’t like our policies?  

Madam President, with one contract, we could wipe out 50 years of aerospace experience.  

And once it’s gone, we won’t get back over night. 

Shouldn’t we at least have a serious debate about this before we give it all away?