Dec 14 2009

Shelby Responds to Senator Murray’s Tanker Comments

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) today responded to Senator Patty Murray’s (D-Wash.) comments on National Public Radio’s (NPR) All Things Considered, in which she ignorantly implied that Alabama cannot build anything.

According to NPR, Murray stated, “I have stood on the line in Everett, Wash., where we have thousands of workers who go to work every day to build these planes. I would challenge anybody to tell me that they’ve stood on a line in Alabama and seen anybody building anything.”

“To publicly assert that Alabama is a risky choice to build the new Air Force tanker is unfounded,” Shelby said to Murray.  “To declare that Alabama cannot build anything is simply ignorant.  Alabama has a proven track record of establishing world-class manufacturing operations and was not considered a precarious location in 2003 when the state was named as a finalist in Boeing’s search for the 787 Dreamliner assembly plant.”

The full text of the letter is below.

December 14, 2009

Dear Senator Murray,

I am writing to share my profound disappointment at the comments you made to the National Public Radio’s show, All Things Considered. 

Clearly, the competition for the Air Force Tanker Replacement Program is as tense as it is significant.  In such an environment, statements may be made to the press that, upon reflection, one may realize should never have been spoken.  I presume that is the case regarding the wildly inaccurate comments stating that you “would challenge anybody to tell me that they’ve stood on a line in Alabama and seen anybody building anything.”  Senator, to publicly assert that Alabama is a risky choice to build the new Air Force tanker is unfounded.  To declare that Alabama cannot build anything is simply ignorant.

Mobile, where the new Air Force refueling tanker will be built, has a proven track record of establishing world-class manufacturing operations.  It was chosen last year as the site for a $4.2 billion German manufacturing and processing steel plant.  It is home to a large shipbuilding industry, including construction of the U.S. Navy’s new Littoral Combat Ship.  One of its largest employers is an aircraft maintenance, repair, and overhauling operation.  In fact, Boeing did not consider Mobile a precarious location in 2003 when the city was named as a finalist in the company’s search for the 787 Dreamliner assembly plant. 

Huntsville, the largest city in North Alabama, is home to more than 300 businesses that provide critical government, commercial, and university research service and employ some of our nation’s brightest minds.  Huntsville was recently named by Forbes Magazine as the sixth best city in the country to do business, has one of the highest per capita incomes in the United States, and has the second highest Ph.D concentration per capita in the nation.  The U.S. Army’s Redstone Arsenal and NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center both reside in Huntsville, combining to drive a strong research and development economy.   Marshall is at the forefront of developing NASA’s Ares vehicles, recognized by Time Magazine as 2009’s Best Invention.  Numerous elements of our nation’s missile defense system are also developed in Huntsville, including Ground-based Missile Defense, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, and the Standard Missile 3.  Huntsville is a leader in missile technology research and the aerospace industry, with nearly every major American defense corporation represented and employing more than 32,000, including over 3,000 Boeing employees.

Alabama and its citizens have experienced enormous growth and opportunity with the establishment of a number of car manufactures and their suppliers in our state.  Today, Alabama is home to three major automotive manufacturing plants – Mercedes-Benz in Vance, Honda in Lincoln, and Hyundai in Montgomery – along with a Toyota engine plant in Huntsville.  In fact, Mercedes-Benz recently announced a major expansion of its plant in Vance which will now produce the company’s C Class vehicles.  The Hyundai manufacturing plant in Montgomery is one of the premier automotive manufacturing facilities in the world, marking its one millionth vehicle milestone in November.  We are proud that the presence of these auto manufactures places Alabama in the top ranks of the auto industry, with Alabama now ranked 5th in the nation in automobile production. 

Senator, I could continue to list the numerous examples throughout the State of Alabama of the great contributions its workers make to the nation.  I would prefer, however, for you to visit the state and experience it personally. 

                                                                                                Sincerely,

                                                                                                Richard Shelby