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Good News for Boeing

It’s never bad news for local business when the home-town guy takes the reins of a powerful congressional committee. In the case of Seattle-based Boeing, that credo might come with an exclamation point, as Washington Rep. Norman Dicks (D) is poised to take over the throne of the powerful defense appropriations committee in the wake of the death this week of Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.).

The Hill’s Roxana Tiron lends context:

Dicks would take the gavel of the Defense panel as the Pentagon decides whether Boeing would win a $35 billion contract for a new fleet of midair refueling tankers. Boeing has been going head to head with a team made up of Northrop Grumman and EADS North America. The Pentagon is scheduled to issue a final request for proposals Feb. 23….

Defense insiders have called Dicks an unapologetic supporter of Boeing, particularly when it comes to the tanker program. Boeing would build the tanker aircraft in Washington state, where it has large commercial aircraft operations. Dicks has long opposed the tanker contract going to EADS, the parent company of Airbus — Boeing’s rival on the commercial market.

Dicks’ office claims that the Washington Democrat, while interested in the contract, won’t enter the fray any more than he already has following Murtha’s death, Tiron reports. Still, the relationship between Dicks and Boeing is a close one. The aerospace giant is the top contributor to Dicks over the course of his congressional career, giving more than $142,000 since the 1998 election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. That trend remains true this cycle, with Dicks already raking in $10,500 from the Seattle company, which makes him the sixth highest recipient in Congress, CRP notes.

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