Just as the Congress is about to authorize $351 million for work on a new Air Force One, President-Elect Donald Trump threw a curve ball on those carefully laid plans, as he declared on Monday that a Boeing program to build a new plane for future presidents is too expensive, and should be canceled, labeling it “totally out of control.”
“Cancel order!” Trump tweeted.
Mr. Trump reinforced that later in the morning, as he told reporters gathered at Trump Tower that he thinks the cost is “ridiculous.”
“I think Boeing is doing a little bit of a number,” the President-Elect said. “We want Boeing to make a lot of money, but not that much money.”
Boeing shied away from any tit-for-tat with the new President-Elect.
“”We are currently under contract for $170 million to help determine the capabilities of these complex military aircraft that serve the unique requirements of the President of the United States,” the company said in a written statement.
“We look forward to working with the U.S. Air Force on subsequent phases of the program allowing us to deliver the best planes for the President at the best value for the American taxpayer.”
Mr. Trump’s declaration about a new Air Force One came as the Congress is ready this week to give final approval to a major defense policy bill, which will authorize the spending of $351 million in the current fiscal year for work on a new Air Force One.
That provision is tucked into the fine print of the over 3,000 page House-Senate agreement on a blueprint for next year’s defense budget.
As you might notice, you don’t search for “Air Force One” to find the details, but instead for “Presidential Aircraft Replacement.”
The House has already approved that overall defense authorization bill; a final vote in the Senate is expected later this week.
In his financial disclosure from earlier this year, Mr. Trump had said he owned between $50,000 and $100,000 of Boeing stock, but an aide told reporters that was sold back in June.
Reaction in the Congress to the Trump pronouncement was mixed; some like Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, readily embraced the President-Elect’s move.
But lawmakers from Boeing’s home state of Washington, were not impressed.
“I think the President-Elect’s tweet shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the negotiations that have taken place between the Air Force and Boeing,” said Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA).
“Boeing is the only American manufacturer of this airplane,” Larsen added.