Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Slattery Questions Roberts’ Role in Removal of Buy American Provisions

At a press conference in Wichita today Jim Slattery criticized incumbent senator Pat Roberts’ role in the removal of a precisely worded Buy American provision from the 2006 Defense Authorization Bill. The removal of the provision allowed EADS to compete with Boeing for the Air Force tanker contract.

“Roberts had two chances to fight for Boeing and Kansas,” Slattery said. “First as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and then as a member of the conference committee for the 2006 Defense Authorization bill. On both occasions, Roberts failed.”

The explicit purpose of the provision was to prevent EADS from competing against Boeing for the Air Force tanker contract.
“This is not just about Buy American provisions,” Slattery said. “This is about a narrowly written section of the bill aimed at preventing EADS from winning the Air Force tanker contract over Boeing, its American rival.”

In an article published in the Wichita Business Journal last week, a Roberts’ spokesperson claimed Buy American provisions were “protectionist” and “impractical.”

In response, Slattery said, “Roberts should have protected the 3,800 new jobs the contract would have brought to Wichita. What was truly impractical was Boeing being forced to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars cleaning up a mess Roberts could have prevented in the first place. Roberts should have known that it was unfair to ask Boeing to compete with a company subsidized by European governments.”

Roberts’ office also argued that President Bush would have vetoed the defense bill had it contained the Buy American provisions.

“It’s time Roberts put the best interests of Kansas ahead of old party politics,” Slattery said. “Roberts had an obligation to do his job and stand up to President Bush on behalf of Boeing and Wichita.”

Slattery said Roberts should be fired for failing to protect Kansas jobs. “It is time to replace Roberts with a senator who will care about Kansans and champions the issues important to them,” Slattery said.

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