NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT FOR FISCAL YEAR 2009 -- (Senate - September 11, 2008)
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Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. President, we had an announcement yesterday by the Secretary of Defense on the procurement question for the tanker for the U.S. Air Force that is very disturbing and disappointing to me. Basically, the history of that was that the Secretary and the U.S. Air Force had evaluated the two competing bids and had selected the Northrop team's bid as the best aircraft and best buy for the country.
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I know Senator Warner and others on our committee, when this issue arose--Senator Levin and Senator McCain--felt that a bid was the right thing to do. We ordered that we pass legislation to do that. I am sorry the Defense Department seems to have given up and punted it. Many are estimating this could result in a delay of 3 years before the matter comes to a conclusion now.
Mr. WARNER. Mr. President, if the Senator will yield, actually it was a series of appropriations. The committee approved it in the House and the Senate--the House Armed Services Committee. When it came to our committee--at that time I was the chairman--we decided this contract was not right, and a lot of work subsequent to that has been done to try to correct it. The Deputy Secretary of Defense contacted me yesterday. I look upon this latest development with some concern because this airplane is needed for the U.S. inventory.
But I thank the Senator for his support through the years. It was our committee that stopped that contract which we felt was faulty at that time, and the rest is history.
Mr. SESSIONS. I could not agree more, I say to Senator Warner. I thank the Senator for his leadership at that time. Basically, it did point out, did it not, I ask Senator Warner, that the authorizing committee is a valuable committee and that those kinds of major programs should be taken through the committee of authorization? Would the Senator agree to that as a matter of historical perspective here in the Senate?
Mr. WARNER. Mr. President, I share the views of my distinguished good friend.
Mr. President, I have been informed--and I will await the leadership to make the formal announcements--but I do believe we are going to move to some votes, hopefully, this afternoon on our bill.