Sunday, May 9, 2010


On May 6, 2010, the Senate launched its bipartisan Aerospace Caucus as an attempt to gather political, industry and military leaders to create a long-term national security strategy for the sector by focusing on education, innovation, reform of defense acquisition and infrastructure and technology investment.

Though aerospace is one of the nation's healthiest and most robust sectors -- counting more than $200 billion in sales in 2009 and supporting more than 30,000 companies and 2 million workers -- co-founders Sens. Patty Murray (D-Washington) and Kit Bond (R-Missouri) warn that emerging challenges (declining markets and uncertain defense spending) could endanger the industry should it fail to anticipate and address future needs and lack a global long-term strategic vision.

The caucus is expected to:
- Provide oversight of aerospace defense programs
- Promote government spending on U.S. aviation infrastructure and development
- Ensure a competitive industrial base
- Promote education and workforce development programs that prepare Americans for careers in the aerospace industry
- Work to reform export control rules
- Secure Senate ratification of defense trade treaties with the UK and Australia
- Lobby for investments in new technology and research & development
- Work to implement efforts to modernize America's aviation infrastructure

It remains to be seen how effective this caucus will actually be given the number of its members who are not currently at the height of their influence -- some long-serving senators are not seeking reelection in 2010 (Brownback, Dodd), while others have been tossed from the running (Bennett) and are politically embroiled (Burris, Ensign). Also to be seen, its eventual role vis-à-vis relations with European companies in the sector. In Senator Murray's district, the largest employer is Boeing, which is sure to have an impact.

The Aerospace Caucus currently has no members from Alabama, a major industry production zone that would also host EADS North America's aerial refueling tanker assembly line should it win the contract over Boeing.

The 22-member group is comprised of Sens. Murray and Bond and the following:
Mark BEGICH, D-Alaska
Michael BENNET, D-Colorado
Robert BENNETT, R-Utah
Richard BURR, R-N. Carolina
Roland BURRIS, D-Illinois
Maria CANTWELL, D-Washington
Saxby CHAMBLISS, R-Georgia
Thad COCHRAN, R-Mississippi
John CORNYN, R-Texas
Christopher DODD, D-Connecticut
John ENSIGN, R-Nevada
James INHOFE, R-Oklahoma
Johnny ISAKSON, R-Georgia
Claire McCASKILL, D-Missouri
James RISCH, R-Idaho
Pat ROBERTS, R-Kansas
John TESTER, D-Montana
David VITTER, R-Louisiana

For Further Reading:
Defense News
Seattle Post Intelligencer

- Amy Greene