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AF Chief Nomination Could Be At Risk

The fight over the tanker has grown even more heated, if that's possible. While it may just be posturing, we hear that the nomination of Gen. Norton Schwartz to be Air Force Chief of Staff would probably be placed on hold should the Pentagon not reopen the bid for the tanker contract. The White House, which has so far tried to keep its distance from the controversy, might be drawn in if it's get that ugly.

However, the latest we are hearing is that OSD officials, who thought as last as 6 p.m. last night that the tanker deal could go ahead without being rebid are now looking at some sort of fly-off as a compromise.

The latest congressional reaction on this comes from Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.), a thoughtful representative who has generally been a good friend to Boeing, issued a press statement today which says, in part: "If, after reading this report, the Air Force thinks they can move forward with this contract without heeding the GAO’s recommendations and rebidding this contract, the problems at the Air Force go well beyond the tanker program."

The Senate situation is pretty simple. Since any senator can block a nomination and can hold up any bill for quite a while, the two Washington senators have a heavy axe to swing should they so chose. On the House side, there appears to be consensus among senior House defense leaders that the contract must be rebid in light of the GAO findings. There may well be more action on this front tomorrow.

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