Minority Whip Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) announced yesterday he is resigning from the Senate, further changing the team of legislators who have protected the shipbuilding industry.Speaking of Lott - this about says it all,
Lott, who is expected to leave by the end of the year, will depart before Sen. John Warner (R-Va.), a former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) who has said he will not seek another term in office. Earlier this year, the shipbuilding caucus on the House side unexpectedly lost Rep. Jo Ann Davis (R-Va.), who died of breast cancer.
Additional shifts could result from the 2008 elections, as other members of the Senate who represent coastal shipbuilding states face tough races.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), another SASC member, is a proponent of the DDG-1000 program, which is being built at Bath Iron Works. She is locked in a tough re-election battle against Rep. Tom Allen (D-Maine), who is capitalizing on anti-war sentiment. On the Democratic side, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) is on the Senate Appropriations homeland security subcommittee and is alone in her party feeling the heat in a state with a Republican governor-elect--Bobby Jindal.
Warner's impending departure, coupled with the death of Davis was a larger blow directly to the state and Northrop Grumman Newport News [NOC], which is located there, because of the singular role Warner played, an official said.
In addition, this year Congress has made a concerted effort to help the industry, providing additional funding where it could. With so many problems facing programs like the Littoral Combat Ship, congressional support is less difficult than getting the Navy to provide more certainty about its programs, said one industry source.
By leaving before the end of the year, Lott will not be bound by new ethics rules that prevent lobbying two years after leaving the office.His departure will shore up the Republican base about as good as anything else out there. Man, I wish we had term limits.
But in a press conference yesterday in Mississippi, Lott downplayed the role that lobbying rules played in his decision to step down.
"It didn't have a big role in that decision. You know, there are limits on that already. And as I've talked to my former colleagues, they say that a lot of what you do anyway is involved with consulting rather than direct lobbying," Lott said, adding that he would have retired in 2006 but stayed on to pass legislation that would help the victims of Hurricane Katrina. His own home was destroyed in the 2005 storm, and he secured more than $500 million in aid for Nothrop Grumman, which has three shipyards along the Gulf Coast of Mississippi (Defense Daily, May 3, 2006).
Hat tip reader Mike.