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Sens. Moran and Cantwell Introduce Bill to Level Playing Field in Tanker Competition

Working to ensure fairness for American Workers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) today introduced legislation to promote fairness in the Department of Defense’s (DOD) competition to build the next generation refueling tanker. Also sponsoring the bill are Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

The Defense Level Playing Field Act, S. 189, will require the DOD to take into consideration the impact of illegal foreign subsidies in the tanker competition that unfairly place American workers at a competitive disadvantage. This legislation is needed because last year a World Trade Organization (WTO) panel found European governments guilty of providing billions in illegal subsidies for the development of the Airbus A330 airframe, which serves as the basis for EADS’ proposal in the KC-X tanker competition. In December 2010, then-Congressman Moran joined Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) in sponsoring legislation identical to The Defense Level Playing Field Act, H.R. 6540, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a wide bipartisan margin of 325 – 23.

“In December, the House overwhelmingly passed legislation to ensure the Pentagon does not continue to ignore the facts – that billions in illegal foreign subsidies have put American workers at a disadvantage in the tanker competition,” Sen. Moran said. “I am proud to introduce this legislation as my first bill in the Senate because I believe when American workers are given a fair chance, they will succeed and produce the best tanker for our men and women in uniform. At a time when millions of Americans are looking for work, our government should not be working against them.”

“American workers, warfighters, and taxpayers deserve a level playing field in the tanker competition,” Sen. Cantwell said. “Our aerospace workers are the best in the world, and they should not be disadvantaged by illegal subsidies, especially in this economy.”

“The WTO found that the launch aid provided by EU governments provided unfair benefits and harmed U.S. competitors,” Senator Roberts said. “It makes no sense to ignore the impact of these unfair subsidies in the tanker competition. While this contract is long overdue, it is important we take the time to do it right. I believe the American aerospace industry is the right choice for this contract. I look forward to a decision in the near future.”

“There is no place for unfair competition in contracting, especially when thousands of American jobs are at stake. This bill is designed to ensure a level playing field and that is something I always support,” Sen. McCaskill said.

“I will continue to support this commonsense measure that will help level the playing field on this critical defense contract. All we’re asking is that an American company be given a fair opportunity to compete on this project to help grow the economy and create much-needed jobs in Missouri and other states,” Sen. Blunt said.

“Illegal foreign subsidies are distorting this competition and stacking the deck against American workers,” Sen. Murray said. “The U.S. government and the World Trade Organization have both come to the conclusion that these subsidies give Airbus a competitive advantage and that they have cost us American jobs. It’s time for the Pentagon to take these subsidies into account and level the playing field for the best workers in the world right here in America.”


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