Business & Lobbying

Navy admiral criticizes defense contractors over lobbying efforts

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Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday on Monday criticized defense contractors for “lobbying Congress to buy aircraft that we don’t need.” 

The Navy’s top officer made the comments during a panel discussion at the Navy League’s annual Sea Air Space conference. His remarks appeared to be directed toward Boeing and its efforts to sell the F/A-18 Super Hornet. The Navy has asked Congress to phase out the older fighter jet, but the House defense budget includes $900 million to purchase additional Super Hornets. 

“Although it’s in industry’s best interest … building the ships that you want to build, lagging on repairs to ships and to submarines, lobbying Congress to buy aircraft that we don’t need, that are excess to needs, it’s not helpful,” Gilday said Monday. “It really isn’t, in a budget constrained environment.”

During another panel on Tuesday, Navy Rear Adm. Andrew Loiselle noted that Gilday was referring to the Super Hornet, and said the plane will not be able to compete with next generation fighters in the future.

The comments from the Navy came as Congress works to finalize the annual defense budget, which currently calls for the procurement of 12 new Super Hornets. Missouri lawmakers, led by Rep. Ann Wagner (R), pushed for the purchase to support workers at Boeing’s St. Louis facility. 

The top defense contractors, which rely heavily on federal contracts and government approval to sell weapons abroad, regularly outspend most companies on federal lobbying.

Boeing, which produces commercial planes in addition to military aircraft, spent nearly $6.2 million to deploy 109 lobbyists to Washington, D.C., through the first half of the year.

The defense sector spent $58 million to lobby Congress and the federal government in the first half of 2021, up 5 percent from the same period last year, according to OpenSecrets. Defense contractors were some of the first companies to resume PAC donations to lawmakers who objected to President Biden’s election win following the Jan. 6 insurrection. 

The Hill has reached out to Boeing for comment.

Tags Ann Wagner Boeing defense contractors Joe Biden Lobbying Michael Gilday Navy
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