Candidates write to Congresswoman Scanlon with a plan
March 23, 2019
Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon
1535 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Congresswoman Scanlon:
We are writing to you to express our strong concern about the Pentagon’s proposal to drastically reduce funding for the modernization of the Army’s Chinook CH-47 helicopter. As you know, this proposal would put thousands of union jobs at Boeing’s manufacturing facility in Delaware County in jeopardy.
If these funding cuts are approved by Congress, the impact would go far beyond the loss of jobs of union employees at Boeing’s facility. It would have a dramatic ripple effect throughout our economy in Delaware County, as well as Southeastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. Local small and medium-sized businesses that provide supplies and services to Boeing’s local facility would see a reduction in work, which would affect the jobs of additional workers in ancillary industries. It could also result in a reduction of home values and our tax base, which would likely need to be offset by either reductions in municipal and county government spending or, even worse, tax increases.
During a meeting yesterday with the leadership and members of UAW Local 1069, Jim Raith expressed our solidarity and support for Boeing, the union membership, and efforts to prevent these proposed cuts from being approved by the U.S. House of Representative and the U.S. Senate. We want to be clear: this is not and should not be a partisan issue. If there is anything that we can do to support your efforts to protect this funding please let us know. Each of us has unique contacts and experience that could be useful, including past experience working in the U.S. Congress, coordinating public policy efforts on a regional level, and involvement in the local business and labor community.
Based on news reports, it is our understanding that you are working to obtain signatures of other members of Congress for a letter you would like to send next week to the House Appropriations Committee. While that is certainly a good exercise, based on our past experience, we would like to offer several other ideas for your consideration that could be part of a larger, more concerted effort to protect jobs at Boeing’s Delaware County facility:
• Convene a meeting and tour of Boeing’s Ridley facility with the tri-state Congressional delegation, including Pennsylvania Senators Pat Toomey and Bob Casey, as well as U.S. Senators and House members from Southeastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. We suggest this tour focus on the regional economic impact of these job cuts, in addition to the impact on military readiness and the long-term impacts on our nation’s defense industrial base. Following the tour, we would encourage a bi-partisan meeting to develop a regional strategy for protecting the funding for the modernization of the Chinook aircraft.
• Encourage Congressman Donald Norcross (NJ-01), Chair of House Armed Services Committee’s Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee to host a field hearing at Boeing’s Ridley facility. That hearing, similar to the delegation tour, would focus on the effects that the proposed funding cuts would have on our military readiness and the capacity of our nation’s defense industrial base. We would suggest that your office work to identify defense industry scholars and experts who would be able to testify about the long-term negative impacts of these proposed cuts.
• Invite Congressman Peter Visclosky (D-IN), Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee’s Defense Subcommittee to accompany you on a personal tour of Boeing’s Ridley facility where he can have the opportunity to discuss the Chinook modernization program with Boeing executives and union leadership. Since his subcommittee will essentially be driving this issue, a tour of our local facility that will better familiarize him with the program would be an immense help.
In addition to the above suggestions, we would encourage you to seek to identify ways that your staff and office can better monitor funding for federal programs – such as the Chinook modernization – that are so vital to our local economy. For example, Bloomberg News first reported on the proposed drastic cuts to the CH-47 Chinook upgrade program on March 12th, but it does not appear that your legislative staff was aware of it until 8 days later when it was reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer on March 20th.
We understand that you have only been in office a few short months and that you are still working to get your legislative staff up to speed, but we would encourage your office to develop a list of federally funded programs that are crucial to our regional economy and establish a system of monitoring any discussions or proposals that would reduce funding. Going forward, a timely response to efforts to cut funding make the difference between a successful and unsuccessful effort to protect funding.
Thank you for your consideration of these suggestions and ideas. As we stated earlier, this is not and should not be a partisan issue. We are here to support your efforts in any way that we can. Please do not hesitate to contact us if we can be of any assistance.