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Wash. Congressional Delegation to Boeing: Build 777X Here

Ashley Gross
Boeing's 777 assembly line in Everett

As time runs out for Washington state to make its case to Boeing that it should build its next 777 wide-body jet here, the state’s Congressional delegation is weighing in with a letter to the company’s top executives.

The lawmakers touted their support and advocacy for important issues to Boeing and their pro-aerospace voting record.

“We are the aerospace industry’s strongest allies and loudest advocates in Congress,” the letter said.

The letter highlighted everything from how hard the politicians fought to make sure Boeing won the KC-46A refueling tanker contract over rival Airbus to the lawmakers’ unanimous vote to extend authority for the Export-Import Bank, which helps overseas airlines finance plane purchases from Boeing.

"We put this letter together to just let Boeing know there's not a better state delegation in Congress that supports aerospace overall and the efforts that Boeing has on a lot of fronts," said Democratic Congressman Rick Larsen, whose district includes Boeing's Everett facility.

The lawmakers said they're working to open new markets through trade, invest in educating a more skilled workforce, build a better transportation system and spend defense dollars on American products.

Bipartisan Unity

The letter is an example of rare bipartisan unity. It’s signed by Democratic Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, as well as Democratic Representatives Larsen, Suzan DelBene, Denny Heck, Jim McDermott, Derek Kilmer and Adam Smith. Republican Representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Jaime Herrera Beutler, Doc Hastings and Dave Reichert also signed the letter.

The lawmakers stress in their letter that they hold senior positions on key committees. Murray, for example, chairs the Senate’s Budget Committee, and Cantwell chairs the Senate Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety and Security.

“Regarding aerospace, no state’s federal delegation can compare to our enthusiasm and commitment,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter. “While we recognize that the Boeing Company faces an increasingly competitive environment and must undertake a thorough process to determine where to place production, we are confident that a full analysis of options will show that Washington state stands apart from the competition."

Boeing opened the 777X bidding to other states after members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers in Washington rejected a contract proposal that would have guaranteed assembly of the plane here in exchange for concessions from the union regarding such things as retirement and health insurance benefits. The company said it plans to pick the assembly site early next year.

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.