UPDATE: Sen. Brownback, Rep. Tiarht Will Unveil WTO Bill At 11 a.m. Thursday
Sen. Daniel Inouye, chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee, offered a painfully careful position on whether he would support language punishing EADS for violating the World Trade Organizations ban on subsidies.
Cornered by reporters as he left a hearing on the Air Force's 2011 budget, Inouye would only say that he would, "like to study it further. It's an important issue." Pressed whether he would act in time to influence the defense spending bill, Inouye said he move to study the issue as quickly as possible.
That stood in marked contrast to the tough talk from two of his colleagues -- all with Boeing interests -- who said EADS should not get the tanker deal because the WTO found the company received illegal subsidies. Sens. Patty Murray of Washington and Sam Brownback of Kansas pushed the Air Force's top leaders to say that EADS should be punished somehow. Brownback is expected to introduce a bill tomorrow that would require the Pentagon to consider World Trade Organization decisions when awarding contracts.
"If you award this to Airbus...and it's a subsidized platform... I think you are going to have to face some very irritated people in the United States of America," Brownback told the Air Force leaders. Secretary Mike Donley would not go there, noting that there is an outstanding appeal to the ruling and that there is a counter-suit. While Donley didn't say it, that counter-suit is against Boeing, which many experts believe will also be found guilty of receiving illegal subsidies. Donley also noted that the military has spoken with the U.S. Trade Representative's office about this and the decision was made that "it is not appropriate for the Department of Defense to take action."