WICHITA - Boeing's battle for a huge tanker deal is becoming part of the race for a U.S. Senate seat in Kansas. Democrat Jim Slattery says his likely opponent, Senator Pat Roberts, should be held accountable for Boeing losing the air tanker deal to Northrup Grumman and its European Airbus team.
The former Topeka area Congressman charges Roberts failed to oppose taking out the "Buy American" provisions from the Defense Authorization Bill passed in 2006. The language was targerted to prevent the Airbus group from winning the contract over Boeing. The Boeing Company has huge plants in Seattle and Wichita.
Last week, one of Roberts staffers said the "Buy American" provisions couldn't practically be enforced, and President Bush would have vetoed the defense bill if those provisions had been a part of it. The GAO, the nation's accounting office, is urging the Air Force to re-open the bidding for the tanker contract, to the delight of Kansas and Washington lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
But Congress probably won't get involved in the Boeing-Airbus battle until the new term begins after Inauguration Day in January.