Senate Candidate Flip Flops on Tanker Subsidies

Reaction was swift to remarks this week by Washington Republican Senate candidate Dino Rossi, who told editors of the Tacoma News-Tribune on Monday that he saw no reason for including the subsidy issue in the Pentagon’s tanker evaluation.

Rossi later backtracked from his statements, saying everyone had misunderstood his answer. He later issued a statement saying he thinks the World Trade Organization (WTO) findings on aerospace subsidies should be applied to the Airbus bid, but not Boeing’s.

“Rossi’s performance, at best, shows him to be an inept politician,” said Washington Democratic Rep. Rick Larsen. “When it comes to this question, you should have had your answer ready 10 years ago. Anybody who has a position on this should have been practicing saying it for years, not just making it up on the last minute.”

Rossi is challenging Washington Democratic Senator Patty Murray, who this week introduced legislation in the Senate that would require the Pentagon to include the WTO findings of massive European subsidies for EADS among its criteria for awarding the KC-X tanker contract. Similar legislation — co-sponsored by Washington Democratic Rep. Jay Inslee — sailed through the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this year on a 410-8 vote.

Murray called her amendment “a common-sense, straightforward way to protect American aerospace jobs from unfair European competition.” She said the changes would target “a major job-creating project — the Air Force’s aerial refueling tanker contract — as a place where we can begin to restore fairness for our aerospace workers.”

The amendment was co-sponsored by Sen. Sam Brownback, a Kansas Republican.