Search Form
First, enter a politician or zip code
Now, choose a category

Public Statements

Letter to the Honorable Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense

Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) led a group of bipartisan Senators in sending a letter to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates asking how the Pentagon intends to account for the unfair advantages that illegal subsidies provide in the competition to replace the U.S. military's next generation of aerial refueling tankers. This letter follows the World Trade Organization's (WTO) release of their final ruling that European governments have been providing Airbus with illegal subsidies that have undercut American workers for the last 40 years.

"The WTO ruling on illegal subsidies to Airbus is a landmark decision. How the United States reacts to the WTO ruling will determine if this country will continue to have a robust and vibrant aerospace industrial base in the future. We look forward to hearing from you on how you will take this final ruling into consideration during the KC-X tanker competition. Our workers are the best in the world, and forcing them to compete against European treasuries is unfair. We want to hear from you on how you intend take the WTO final ruling into consideration and bring fairness into this competition," the Senators wrote.

Senator Murray was joined by Senators Sam Brownback (R-KS), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Kit Bond (R-MO), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Roland Burris (D-IL).

The full text of the letter appears below:

The Honorable Robert Gates
Secretary of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1000

Dear Secretary Gates:

On June 30, The World Trade Organization (WTO) issued its final ruling on the U.S. trade case against illegal European government subsidies to Airbus. The WTO has confirmed the claims of both President Bush and President Obama and found that Airbus has for decades been the beneficiary of billions of dollars in illegal subsidies and that these subsidies have caused serious damage to America's aerospace industry, workers, and economy. The cumulative market value of the subsidies provided to Airbus over the last 40 years approaches $200 billion in today's dollars. This is unacceptable and clearly provides a competitive advantage to Airbus in the competition for the KC-X Aerial Refueling Tanker competition.

The WTO found Launch Aid for every Airbus program illegal and damaging. Findings included five billion dollars in Launch Aid provided for development of the A330/340 airframe. As you know, the A330 is the selected platform for Airbus' aerial refueling tanker. Without these subsidies, Airbus could never have developed and built the A330 and would not have a platform to use in the KC-X competition. The WTO also found the government funding of Airbus infrastructure and research and development programs to be illegal.

Having relied on these illegal subsidies to increase market share in the global commercial aerospace market, Airbus now appears intent to use subsidized aircraft and the treasuries of European countries to significantly increase its presence in the U.S. defense market. While we urge you to move forward on the KC-X tanker competition without delay, the Department of Defense must provide a level playing field for all competitors and factor these subsidies into the airplane cost.

The WTO ruling on illegal subsidies to Airbus is a landmark decision. How the United States reacts to the WTO ruling will determine if this country will continue to have a robust and vibrant aerospace industrial base in the future. We look forward to hearing from you on how you will take this final ruling into consideration during the KC-X tanker competition. Our workers are the best in the world, and forcing them to compete against European treasuries is unfair. We want to hear from you on how you intend take the WTO final ruling into consideration and bring fairness into this competition.


Source:
Skip to top
Back to top