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Bond, Blunt say their opposing votes don't signal a split over Boeing planes

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 25, 2009 - While U.S. Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond, R-Mo., was trumpeting his success in winning Senate passage of a bill aimed at saving Boeing's C-17 plane produced in St. Louis, two of Missouri's Republicans in the U.S. House joined their GOP colleagues in voting against it.

In particular, the opposition of U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Strafford, has attracted national press attention since Blunt is competing in 2010 to succeed Bond in the Senate -- and Bond has endorsed him.

But also voting against the measure in question, which earmarked money for eight more C-17 cargo planes, was U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, R-Town and Country, who has been an outspoken advocate of Boeing's C-17 and F/A-18 planes built in St. Louis.

Despite the House GOP opposition, the  pro-C-17 bill passed.

Blunt campaign spokesman Rich Chrismer denies any split in Missouri GOP ranks. Blunt voted against the C-17 bill because the House version also earmarked money for the International Monetary Fund, Chrismer said. Akin's opposition was on similar grounds.

"Roy Blunt has been clear in his support for keeping America safe and supporting our military.  He voted for a bipartisan bill weeks ago that supported our troops and protected jobs in Missouri," Chrismer said. "What Roy voted against was bailing out foreign countries through the IMF."

Chrismer contended that "this false attack'' was orchestrated by Democratic allies of the likely Democratic nominee for Bond's seat, Secretary of State Robin Carnahan.

Meanwhile, Bond spokesman Shana Marchio said, "Mr. Blunt’s commitment to our troops and our defense workers has never wavered, and he’s voted to support them time after time. This is just a Democrat attempt to shift attention away from the fact that Missourians don’t support their massive spending spree, cap-and-trade energy tax, or their government takeover of health care."

Such a strong defense of Blunt would almost make one forget that Bond strongly backed the bill.

This week, Bond has joined forces with U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., to press for production of more F/A-18s. The two send a joint letter to members of the Senate Appropriations Committee to ask them to beef up funding for the plane.

Depending on what else ends up in that bill, Bond could find himself voting at odds again with his Missouri GOP colleagues in the House. But as long as the bill ultimately passes with more F/A-18 funding, it looks like neither Republican faction will mind.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.