News Releases

FAIRCHILD: Senator Murray Questions Air Force Brass on Critical Fairchild Base Improvements, Air Force Tankers

May 12 2010

After Pentagon’s military construction budget leaves out Fairchild construction, Murray brings attention to needed upgrades to outdated facilities

Listen to the full exchange

(Washington D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a member of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, questioned the Secretary and Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force about needed improvements to Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane. Murray’s questioning sought answers to why Fairchild construction projects were left off the Pentagon’s Fiscal Year 2011 military construction budget. She also questioned the Air Force about making Fairchild a home to the next generation of aerial refueling tankers.  

Despite needed upgrades to Fairchild facilities including base headquarters, Fairchild construction projects have largely been made possible through investments that Murray has prioritized through the appropriations process rather than being prioritized by the Pentagon in its annual budget.


“The President’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2011 does not include any investment in military construction at Fairchild Air Force Base.  I would like to know why.  I was just at Fairchild in April and I heard directly from the base community that there are many facilities at Fairchild in need of upgrades, including some that aren’t sufficient to meet the needs of a 21st century Air Force,” said Senator Murray said. “Can you explain, Mr. Secretary, why there’s not military construction investment in Fairchild this year?”

 “Very simply we have chosen to take risk in infrastructure. We have underfunded our MILCON [military construction] and facility infrastructure for several years running now,” said Secretary of Air Force Michael B. Donley.


“I also wanted to ask you about the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling that Airbus has received illegal, trade-distorting subsidies for years. In particular, the WTO found that the A-330, the very airframe that Airbus plans to put forward in the tanker competition, has been built using illegal subsidies. I continue to be very troubled that the DoD is awarding this contract – a taxpayer funded $35 billion competition – without accounting for the billions of dollars in illegal subsidies received by Airbus,” said Senator Murray. “I want to know how can you assure American taxpayers that they won’t be spending money to support an illegally-subsidized company that one part of our Government – the USTR – has already declared harmful to American jobs?”

“The judgment inside the executive branch, not just the Air Force or the DoD, is that it would not be appropriate for the department of defense in a single contract action to take action representative of a WTO level decision,” said Secretary of Air Force Michael B. Donley.