U.S. Sen. Patty Murray added in an amendment to a weapons acquisitions bill, forcing the Pentagon to notify Congress if pulling a weapons program will adversely affect the nation’s industrial base.
Democrat Murray, of course, has a large aerospace company, Boeing, here in her home state of Washington.
Boeing looked like it would lose out on several of its defense programs under the initial budget presented by Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Even though Boeing is better known for its commercial airplanes workers here in Washington, some of its defense workers in the Puget Sound region also are at risk if the cuts go forward.
Boeing has been getting a hand from lawmakers across the country to keep programs like its C-17 going.
But Murray has more on her mind than Boeing’s existing defense programs. The Pentagon is set to restart its drawn-out Air Force tanker contest this summer, for which Boeing likely will offer its Everett-assembled KC-767.
In her Senate speech, Murray made clear that she wants the industrial base considered in acquisitions, period.
“This legislation should only be a first step in our efforts to address procurement issues. I strongly believe that we also need to begin a national conversation on how procurement decisions affect our nation’s industrial base, including the aerospace workers that help our military meet their needs. …
“Acquisition reform must take into account the future needs of our military and our industrial base and ensure that rules limiting cost overruns are enforced. The legislation that we passed today will force the Pentagon to take a new approach to a broken process.”
Murray and other Washington lawmakers have made a point of pushing Boeing as the “American” choice in the tanker contest. Boeing’s major rival, Los Angeles-based Northrop Grumman has teamed up with EADS, the parent company of Boeing’s European commercial rival Airbus. EADS and Northrop would assemble their KC-30 in Alabama, but Boeing backers say a KC-30 win would weaken the aerospace base.
Here’s what the Pentagon did today on the 2010 weapons budget.