Pelosi points finger at McCain on Boeing
The controversy over the Pentagon decision to award a $35bn refuelling tanker contract to EADS spilled into the presidential race yesterday, when a senior Democrat suggested that John McCain, the Republican nominee, was responsible for the deal being "outsourced" to a European company.
Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic House speaker, said Boeing had been on course to supply the US Air Force with tankers until Mr McCain "intervened".
"My understanding is that it was on course for Boeing before. I mean, the thought was that it would be a domestic supplier for it," Ms Pelosi told reporters.
"Senator McCain intervened, and now we have a situation where the contract may be - this work may be outsourced."
The air force originally chose Boeing to supply it with 100 tankers. But Congress cancelled the deal after it emerged that Darleen Druyun, a former top air force acquisitions official, had held illegal job discussions with Boeing while still negotiating the deal. Ms Druyun admitted boosting the value of the deal to help Boeing.
Mr McCain has pointed to his aggressive investigation into the Boeing deal as evidence that he is willing to stand up to powerful corporate interests.
The tanker scandal claimed the career of former Boeing chief executive Phil Condit. Ms Druyun and Mike Sears, Boeing's former chief financial officer, were sent to jail.
The suggestion by Ms Pelosi came as Boeing supporters on Capitol Hill opened a new line of attack against the deal, which ultimately could be worth more than $100bn as the air force replaces its entire fleet of about 600 in-flight refuelling tankers.
Pat Roberts, a Republican senator from Kansas, where Boeing has a strong presence, claimed the decision to award the deal to EADS and Northrop Grumman, its US partner, ran counter to US trade policy.
Mr Roberts said the decision "defies common sense" because the US was pursuing a subsidies case against Airbus, a subsidiary of EADS, at the World Trade Organisation.
"This is an outrage. It truly makes me question our trade agenda," the Kansas senator told the Senate finance committee.
Mr Roberts' attack follows a spate of criticism in Congress. The decision stunned most analysts, who expected Boeing, which has supplied the US military with in-flight refuelling tankers for five decades, to win.
Boeing will have 10 days to lodge a protest with the Government Accountability Office, the oversight arm of Congress, after it receives an air force briefing.
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