The tanker deal is indeed cleared:
''Thursday, November 13, 2003
Air tanker deal clears last hurdle
Senate vote sends it to president
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER NEWS SERVICES
The Boeing Co. won approval yesterday of a long-delayed deal with the Air Force to lease and buy 100 converted 767 jets as midair refueling tankers and finally landed a deal with China to provide 30 737 planes.
Ending a two-year battle, the Senate gave final approval to the controversial plan for the Air Force to lease 20 tankers immediately and buy 80 more planes in a standard purchase.
The compromise was pushed as a way to satisfy Arizona Sen. John McCain and others who criticized the original proposal of leasing all 100 planes as too costly.
The revised plan is expected to reduce the cost of the $21 billion deal by at least $3 billion and may save as much $5 billion over 15 years, depending on when the planes are bought and other factors.
The Senate gave formal approval to the deal as part of a $401 billion measure it passed yesterday and sent to the White House authorizing 2004 military programs. The House passed the bill Friday.
During debate on the bill Tuesday, supporters hailed the upcoming vote as the end of a long, hard fight.
"I don't think this is the last we'll hear about tankers, but this compromise strikes a balance," said Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash. "The Air Force gets to start a needed tanker replacement program, taxpayers get a savings of $2.2 billion and workers get to continue manufacturing a great product."
The planes will be built at Boeing's plant in Everett and modified in Wichita, Kan.
Lawmakers in Kansas and in Washington state had lobbied extensively on behalf of the tanker deal, as did House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., whose district is close to Boeing's Chicago headquarters.
Lawmakers in Florida and North Dakota, where many of the planes will be housed, also worked on behalf of the deal.
While the plan is limited to 100 planes, the Air Force needs to replace more than 400 existing KC-135 refueling tankers
, and supporters expect Boeing to have an edge in the competition for the remaining planes.
- I am LN-MOW, and I approve this message.