By John T. Bennett - 09/13/11 09:32 PM EDT
Murray has long advocated for aerospace programs as a member of the Senate Appropriations Defense subcommittee and a founding member of the Senate Aerospace Caucus. She was one of the most vocal advocates of Boeing’s entry into a decade-long Air Force tanker aircraft competition. Boeing eventually won, beating out rival Airbus in a bitter race.
In a statement, AIA said Murray “continues to call attention to the important issues facing the nation’s transportation infrastructure and the U.S. aerospace industry.”
“Senator Murray knows the value of the aerospace and defense industry and how its nearly $331 billion in sales contribute to our nation’s economy,” Jim Albaugh, a Boeing executive who chairs AIA’s board of governors, said in the same statement. “A great supporter of our troops, Sen. Murray understands the importance of ensuring that they have the best equipment in the world.”
AIA President and CEO Marion Blakey added that Murray’s “knowledge, experience and dedication to her constituents and the aerospace industry deserve great respect and recognition.”
An AIA spokesman said giving the award to Murray had nothing to do with her role on the deficit-reduction panel, which will make decisions about the Defense budget.
"Senator Murray was selected some time ago — before the supercommittee was conceived," AIA spokeswoman Alexis Allen told The Hill. "We didn’t want anyone to think there was any connection between her supercommittee position and the award. The award is for her longtime service to aerospace."
The defense and aerospace trade association presents the Wings of Liberty award annually to a lawmaker “who has made significant contributions to help bolster aerospace and national defense,” according to the statement.
In previous years, AIA has handed the award to House Appropriations Committee ranking member Norm Dicks (D-Wash.), Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) and now-retired Sen. John Warner (R-Va.), who for years was either Senate Armed Services Committee chairman or ranking member.
—This story was update at 5:55 p.m.