Release: McMahon Insults CT Defense Workers By Campaigning With McCain—The Man Who Almost Closed EBOctober 01 2012
McCain led fight for 2005 BRAC and to kill the Seawolf Submarine Program that would have closed Electric Boat
ROCKY HILL—Working hard to galvanize her support with Washington, D.C. Republicans and their extreme right wing policies, wrestling CEO Linda McMahon is campaigning today with Senator John McCain, who led the charge for the infamous Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) in 2005 that nearly cost the state its submarine base and tens of thousands of Connecticut jobs. McCain also led repeated efforts to kill the Navy’s Seawolf submarine program, which would have closed Electric Boat and doomed countless defense manufacturers throughout the state.
“Whether it’s Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, or John McCain, Linda McMahon just can’t hide her close ties to the national Republicans that she hopes to join in Washington,” said Ben Marter, a spokesman for Murphy. “McMahon has already publicly toyed with the idea of closing Connecticut’s sub base, but cozying up to the man who almost single-handedly destroyed southeastern Connecticut’s economy is beyond the pale. John McCain actually mocked Connecticut’s bipartisan efforts to save Electric Boat and the sub base, saying that ‘what is good for Electric Boat is not good for our Armed Forces and is not good for the rest of the defense industry.’ McMahon has made it clear that she’s willing to put thousands of local jobs at risk, but bringing John McCain to the state just to ingratiate herself with Washington Republicans is a slap in the face to the men and women who work to keep Connecticut’s defense industry strong.”
Just four months ago, McMahon expressed support for a base closure commission that would directly threaten over 20,000 Connecticut jobs and $4.5 billion of the state’s economy. McMahon then refused FIVE chances to walk back her comments about her willingness to cut countless defense industry jobs at the base and from Electric Boat.
John McCain’s Disastrous Submarine Record
Led the effort to kill the Seawolf Submarine Program. Calling the program a “waste,” John McCain positioned himself as the Senate’s most outspoken supporter for ending the Seawolf program. After President George H.W. Bush and then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney proposed cancelling the program and terminating two of the already scheduled boats, SSN-22 and SSN-23, McCain strongly pushed legislation – not once, not twice, but on three separate occasions – to kill Seawolf. Congressional supporters fought those efforts and, thanks to their efforts and the support of President Bill Clinton, the two Seawolf-class subs that McCain tried to kill were finally built at Electric Boat. [S.AMDT.1045 to S.1507, 8/2/91, withdrawn; S.AMDT.1206 to H.R.2521, 9/26/91, Record Vote No: 209, Defeated: 10-90; S.AMDT.1791 to S.2403, 5/5/91, Record Vote No: 83, Defeated: 46-52; S.AMDT.2090 to S.1026, 8/3/95, Record Vote No: 356, Defeated 30-70.]
Derided Seawolf as a pork-barrel jobs program for Electric Boat – ignoring key arguments in support of the program. Ignoring the clear need for the Seawolf program expressed by his Senate colleagues and the Navy, McCain stuck to his position that the Seawolf was nothing more than a “militarily unnecessary jobs program.” He mocked efforts led by the Connecticut Congressional Delegation to save the Seawolf program, saying that “what is good for Electric Boat is not good for our Armed Forces and is not good for the rest of the defense industry. [Congressional Record, August 03, 1995; Congressional Record, 5/5/91]
McCain ignored warnings that killing Seawolf would destroy Electric Boat. In defending the Seawolf program from McCain’s efforts, Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI) said:
“No one disagrees that if these two submarines are rescinded and the contract is canceled, the producer, Electric Boat Co., will go out of business. No one can contest this. Everyone knows that this Electric Boat Co. has been making submarines for nearly 100 years. That is all they have made all these years; they have provided the Armed Services of the United States with submarines. If we decide to do away with the Seawolf, that plant will close.”
Other Senators appealed to McCain that ending Seawolf would tear apart the submarine design and construction center of excellence in Groton – leaving our nation without a workforce to design, build and support our submarine force. In addressing these concerns, Mccain said that while he had the “deepest sympathy, admiration, and respect for those who work at the Electric Boat Co. and make the finest submarines that the world has ever see,” he disregarded that argument and stated that “what is good for Electric Boat is not good for our Armed Forces and is not good for the rest of the defense industry.” [Congressional Record, 5/5/92]
Even as key allies saw the wisdom of continuing the Seawolf program, McCain continued efforts to kill it. One of the key arguments against killing Seawolf was that the program’s end would destroy the submarine industrial base and force Electric Boat to close, threatening our nation’s ability to support the needs of our submarine force in the future. While he had supported McCain’s early efforts to kill the Seawolf program, Senator John Warner (R-VA) reversed course in a June 1995 letter to then-Sen. William Cohen (R- Maine), the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee's Seapower Subcommittee. In it, he argued that rather than making a decision that would lead to the closure of one of only two yards able to build nuclear powered vessels, the Senate “should work toward a solution that would keep both shipbuilders as viable submarine builders” for a time “when the future underwater threat situation may be less problematic, or at least clear.” Defense Daily, a defense industry trade publication, called the news “a tremendous victory for Electric Boat, which said it would go out of business without SSN-23, and vindicates the Clinton Administration's plan to preserve two nuclear shipyards, one for carriers and another for submarines.” However, less than two months later, McCain returned to the Senate floor in another effort to kill to the program, which was again rejected by his colleagues. [“Warner Reserves Position on Third Seawolf,” Defense Daily, 6/26/95, Vol. 187, Issue: 60;S.AMDT.2090 to S.1026, 8/3/95, Record Vote No: 356, Defeated 30-70]
Failed to see the long-term need for a robust Submarine force. In trying to end Seawolf, McCain said that the platform was “a historic relic of the cold war” that “little to do with our Nation's defense.” In looking ahead to how the end of Seawolf would impact our submarine force in the future, he said that “our existing submarine force remains capable and can be maintained into the next century.” Yet, we now know that the submarine force has declined rapidly since McCain first staked his opposition to Seawolf, from between 85-88 subs in the early 1990’s to just 52 today. That number will continue to go down to below the Navy’s own stated force requirements for over a decade, even as today they can only meet two-thirds of our combatant commander’s SSN requests. In judging the post-Cold War security environment, McCain failed to fully grasp how the lack of investment in the submarine force would limit the capabilities of the submarine force in the decades ahead. McCain can’t say he wasn’t warned:
Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV):“We should be preserving the most advanced technologies in our submarine systems of the future because there would be fewer of them and the inventory of even those that we retain will be smaller. We will be retiring submarines at a faster rate in the future. The size of our force would drop from some 90 boats to 50. If we are to retain mastery under the seas with smaller numbers, it only makes sense to have the most advanced technology we have developed in those platforms. [Congressional Record, 5/5/92; Congressional Record, 5/6/92]