Let’s Talk

At a May 20 Senate Appropriations defense panel hearing, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), an avid Boeing tanker proponent (see above), chided Defense Secretary Robert Gates when he responded to a question about the tanker competition, in which Northrop Grumman and French Airbus maker EADS prevailed, that the law limits program selection criteria to technology, cost, and capability. She quipped, Congress must “take a lot wider purview.” And one of those wider issues, she said, is the future of the US industrial capability. “In our aerospace industry, we need engineers and mechanics and a whole range of people. … We have to have an aerospace industry here that is strong if we want to attract people into that field.” Murray added that she has a “lot of questions about this, Mr. Secretary, and some deep concerns, and I hope at some time you and I can have a more private conversation about that and the acquisition process and what we, as Congress, have to be thinking about and looking at into the future.”