WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, made the following statement today regarding comments made by U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA) regarding the Air Force Tanker Recapitalization Program:
“I am deeply disappointed that the Chairman of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, Norm Dicks, would publically engage in political intimidation to restrict competition on any contract, much less one that would directly affect the men and women in our Armed Services.
“Chairman Dicks said last week that he hoped U.S. companies would not partner with European-based EADS to compete for the Air Force’s refueling tanker contract. By this admission, Chairman Dicks is attempting to restrict competition—a competition mandated by Congress—on the second-largest defense contract in the history of the United States to the sole benefit of one company. I believe that many Americans view this as brazenly inappropriate behavior.
“If Chairman Dicks is successful in politically intimidating contractors from partnering with EADS, there could be two negative impacts. First, taxpayers may be forced to pay more for a new aircraft than is warranted, and second, the aircraft’s value and capability to the war fighter will likely decrease, rather than increase as it would through a competitive procurement process.
“Defense companies should understand that, contrary to Representative Dick’s comments, the majority of members in the House and Senate want a robust competition engineered not to benefit a single company, but to produce the best airplane for the war fighter.
“I encourage U.S. companies to consider partnering with EADS, which was part of the team originally selected by the Air Force to build this airplane. Chairman Dicks should know that the men and women of our Armed Services deserve the transformational aircraft that the Air Force has repeatedly said it needs to support military operations around the world. The company that can build that aircraft should win the competition, free from political interference.”
“I intend to raise these troubling comments with senior Department of Defense officials when I meet with them at the Pentagon this week. I would hope that the Secretary of Defense would condemn statements of this nature, which only serve to politicize and corrupt this competitive process.”