Congress Lobbies for Boeing C-17

Times Staff Writer

Congress took another step Friday to keep open Boeing Co.'s C-17 production line in Long Beach as members of the House and the Senate sent separate letters to the White House urging President Bush to acquire more of the military cargo planes.

The House letter, cosponsored by Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-Carson), included signatures from 148 members. The Senate letter, sponsored by Missouri Republican Sens. Jim Talent and Christopher S. Bond, included signatures from 13 senators.

The letters, faxed to the White House late Friday, said canceling the C-17 program “before we acquire the [aircraft] fleet we need would dramatically limit our military’s air logistics capabilities.” The letters urged Bush to continue production of “this vital national security asset.”

The lobbying effort came days after Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne confirmed the Pentagon’s plans not to expand its C-17 fleet beyond the 180 it operates or has on order. Unless there are additional orders, Boeing’s C-17 production line would be shuttered in 2008.

The Senate voted 89 to 8 last month for a nonbinding amendment to the defense spending bill calling for the Air Force to acquire 42 more C-17s that would keep the production line open until 2012. About 7,000 employees work at the assembly plant next to Long Beach Airport.