An important press release from Donald Betts campaign for the US House> WICHITA, Kans. – State Senator Donald Betts, Jr. provided information at last week’s press conference that Rep. Todd Tiahrt had taken $3,000 from Northrop Grumman during the 2008 election cycle. Additionally, Tiahrt voted for on the Fiscal 2008 Department of Defense Authorization Bill HR 4986, PL 110-81, Section 804 which allowed the Secretary of Defense the ability to waive “Buy American” Provisions. It passed by the House 369-46 with Representative Tiahrt voting Aye. This vote by the entire Kansas delegation effectively allowed the Air Force to make decisions on outsourcing military work to other countries. Campaign donations to Tiahrt can be reviewed by at The Center for Responsive Politics (a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization) website at this link: http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/pacs.php?cycle=2008&cid=N00008144§or=D&seclong=Defense&cat=D03&induslong=Misc+Defense
“Todd would have you believe that he has been an opponent of ‘outsourcing’ but the truth is he voted for the bill that allowed foreign companies to bid on defense contracts.” “Most people would be shocked to learn that he voted for a bill a few years ago that undermined the ‘Buy American Act’ established in 1933 by giving the Secretary of the Defense the opportunity to let out contracts to foreign governments.”
“I am sure that Representative Tiahrt doesn’t want the public to realize that it was ‘him’ and other members of Congress and not this contract that opened the door to sending our jobs and security overseas,” said Betts. “It is an outrage that he is acting as though he supports Boeing and opposes Grumman when the truth is that he took campaign donations from Grumman,” said Betts. “We should absolutely never outsource our military contracts. The Department of Defense should always use American manufacturing for the sake of insuring the best possible products for our servicemen and women and for our nation’s defense and security.”
In addition to this legislation opening the process to foreign companies, it is important to note that in 2001, both Representative Tiahrt and Senator Roberts started receiving contributions from Grumman’s Political Action Committees (Grumman is the partner with EADS (Airbus) on the tanker project). Shortly thereafter, McCain mounted a campaign to force the Congress and Air Force to drop the Boeing tanker leasing deal introduced in October 2001. McCain bragged during the 2008 campaign for President that he had “saved” the American taxpayer 30 billion dollars by forcing the cancellation of the contract. In May 2003, Roberts voted for the John McCain amendment to the Fiscal Year 2004 military budget (Senate Bill S1050) allowing the Department of Defense to buy military equipment and services from foreign companies, including EADS, undermining the “Buy American Act”. It passed with a 50-48 largely Republican party line vote.
Senator Roberts and Representative Tiahrt are on the Senate and House sub appropriations committees for military spending, yet there is no evidence that they spoke out or tried to stop the cancellation of the Boeing contract in May 2004. Furthermore, the House and Senate in a series of continuing motions eroded the 50% USA content rule used by the Department of Defense by making agreements with 21 foreign countries to grant a waiver from the 50% rule. In other words, the House and Senate declared even if military equipment was manufactured in one of the 21 foreign countries it would be counted as “MADE IN THE USA”. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and President Bush supported these motions as did Roberts and Tiahrt. These motions passed without any reported opposition from Roberts or Tiahrt.
In Fiscal Year 2006 Defense Authorization Act (HR 1815, S1042) contained the authorization for the tanker contract. HR 1815 contained 3 strong Buy American provisions:
Section 817 banned the Secretary of Defense from buying military hardware from any foreign company who receives subsidies from a foreign government when that government is a member of the World Trade Organization and applied only when the US is involved in an unresolved WTO dispute over the subsidies or the WTO has ruled the subsidies are illegal. The sole purpose of the amendment was to prohibit Airbus from winning the tanker contract over Boeing.
Section 818 required military purchases contain at least 50% USA made content. It would have invalidated the special agreements with 21 foreign countries allowing them to manufacture more than 50% USA military equipment and count it as “made in the USA”
Section 1212 would have prevented the US military from buying equipment from foreign companies who have sold items on the USA’s Munitions List to China.
HR 1815 passed the House and was referred to the Senate Armed Services Committee on which Senator Roberts sat. Senator Warner tried to attach the 3 “Buy American” amendments to the Senate defense appropriations bill, but in May 2005 Roberts as a member of the committee dropped the “Buy American” provisions. Grumman teamed with EADS (Airbus) to bid on the tanker in September 2005. The Senate Armed Services Committee stripped “Buy American” provisions out and it passed the Senate Armed Services Committee without any recorded objection from Roberts. On November 15, 2005, the stripped bill passed the Senate with unanimous consent with no recorded objection from Roberts. On that same day, Roberts was named to serve on the conference committee to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate bills. On December 21, 2005, the Senate agreed to the Conference Committee Report by a voice vote, again without the “Buy American” provisions.
Roberts and Tiahrt did not voice their opinions objecting to military contracts involving bidding from foreign companies or foreign countries, yet they have been very vocal as of late to show the voters of Kansas that they are the advocates of keeping military work in the U.S. “Voters need to be alert to realize this is not how they have voted and to realize this is just the latest in their campaign ploys to the public to present a different image,” said Betts.