Wicker Warns Against Congressional Intervention in Tanker Contract

April 17, 2008

WASHINGTON – Speaking from the floor of the U.S. Senate, Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) today warned against congressional action to overturn the recent Air Force decision to award a $40 billion contract to Northrop Grumman-EADS to build 179 aerial refueling tankers in Mobile, Alabama. 

Boeing, who also was vying for the contract, has protested the decision to the Government Accountability Office (GAO).  Should the GAO let the decision stand, supporters of Boeing in Congress have threatened to take legislative action to overturn the contract. 

Following are key excerpts from Wicker’s speech:

  • “Compared to the reactions in Kansas and Washington state, the selection of Northrop Grumman was greeted with enthusiasm in Mobile, Alabama, and along the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, where thousands of jobs will be created locally.  While the tankers would be built in Mobile, the economic impact would be felt throughout the Gulf Coast.”
  • “In winning this contract, Northrop Grumman simply did a better analysis and provided a better solution for the Air Force.  The KC-45A carries more fuel, more passengers, and more cargo.  It will also cost less to produce, passing along savings to the American taxpayers.  In addition, by utilizing a broad base of suppliers in 49 of our 50 states, Northrop Grumman’s tanker will create 48,000 direct and indirect jobs across our country.”
  • “I would like to address some of the claims made by Boeing and its supporters.  First, let’s look at recent claims that the competition was somehow unfair.  The Air Force and Defense department testified recently to the Senate Armed Services Committee that the KC-45A tanker competition was perhaps the most rigorous, fair and transparent acquisition in Department of Defense history … Considering this, it is very hard to make a straight-faced claim that this process wasn’t open or fair.” 
  • “Some erroneously claim the Northrop Grumman award will outsource thousands of U.S. jobs to Europe.  This is simply not true.  No jobs are being exported to Europe.  On the contrary, the KC-45A will create thousands of new jobs in America, and will support a total of 48,000 direct and indirect jobs in 49 States.  More than 230 suppliers across these United States help make up the 60 percent U.S. content in the KC-45A Tanker.  This will truly be America’s Tanker – assembled in America by American workers.”
  • “If this decision is not overturned by GAO, any attempt to alter this decision through the appropriations process or any other legislative maneuver would be dangerously shortsighted.  It would set a damaging precedent that would destroy our contract process now and in the future.  And frankly, I would view such a move as an attack on the competition process itself – not just this award.” 

A full transcript of Sen. Wicker’s remarks is available upon request.