Josh Hawley, confirmation hearing
US Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO), speaks during a confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett before the Senate Judiciary Committee, October 12, 2020 in Washington, DC. Photo credit: © Susie Walsh - Pool Via Cnp/CNP via ZUMA Wire

Boeing’s CEO Dave Calhoun was absolutely hammered at a Senate hearing this week. And, surprisingly, a Republican who sounded like a progressive led the charge.

Listen To This Story
Voiced by Amazon Polly

There are ample reasons to criticize congressional Republicans… and we often do. They seem to have lost any interest in legislating, which should be their main job. Instead, they have essentially become a bunch of performance artists who are doing Donald Trump’s bidding — either through obstruction (in the Senate) or “investigations” (in the House). And in doing so, most of them try to beat each other to that viral soundbite that gets them on Fox News.

This week, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), demonstrated that it doesn’t have to be that way… and that a Republican can use that flair for showmanship to do good.

Hawley is an interesting case. He may be best known for riling up Trump’s insurrectionists with a raised fist on January 6, and he is definitely one of those performance artists who is always looking for that Fox News appearance.  

However, there are also times when he genuinely seems to want to do the work of a senator. For example, he is very passionate about the expansion and reauthorization of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA), which recently expired as a result of the House GOP’s inaction.

RECA set up a program to ensure that Americans harmed by atmospheric nuclear testing and uranium industry employment can get some form of compensation.

On this issue, he is actually doing what a senator is supposed to do, i.e., work on behalf of his constituents… and not a convicted felon running for the White House.

He even criticized House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) for not extending the program.

“Now, nobody in my state — nobody in any state — who is sick and dying of cancer, or any other illness caused by radiation, can even apply for relief,” Hawley said recently. “And, so far, Speaker Johnson, after promising these survivors that he would meet with them, he has not met with them [and] he has not addressed the failure of the House to renew and reauthorize RECA.”

On Tuesday, he also put that tenaciousness to good use when he dressed down Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun (his first line of questioning begins at 29:30 in this video of the hearing and the second round begins at 1:40:45).

It is already pretty rare for a Republican to hammer the head of an American company in this way (unless they are criticizing them for being too woke). But in this case, the target of Hawley’s ire also employs 17,000 people in his home state.

At times, Hawley sounded like his colleague Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). He criticized Boeing for not paying its engineers enough, spending massive profits on stock buybacks, and Calhoun’s own rate of compensation.

After the Boeing CEO at first merely said “It’s a big number” when Hawley asked him how much he is getting paid, the senator then helped him out by noting that he “earns” $32.8 million… up 45 percent from a year ago.

“What is it that you get paid to do, exactly?” Hawley then asked before quizzing Calhoun whether transparency, safety, and quality are part of his duties.

He then hammered Calhoun by citing problems Boeing has had in all of these areas.

“I think the truth is Mr. Calhoun, you’re not focused on safety, you’re not focused on quality, you’re not focused on transparency,” Hawley said. “I think actually you’re focused on what you were hired to do, which is that you’re cutting corners. You are eliminating safety procedures. You are sticking it to your employees. You are cutting back jobs because you’re trying to squeeze every piece of profit you can out of this company.”

Sounding like a progressive once again, Hawley then said that the way Boeing operates “is working out great for you.

“For the American people, they’re in danger; for your workers, they’re in peril; for your whistleblowers, they literally fear for their lives; but you’re getting compensated like never before,” the senator said.

So, yes, there are plenty of reasons to criticize congressional Republicans in general and Hawley in particular.

But it is also important to give them (and him) credit when they are actually doing their jobs.


  • Klaus Marre

    Klaus Marre is a senior editor for Politics and director of the Mentor Apprentice Program at WhoWhatWhy. Follow him on Twitter @KlausMarre.

    View all posts

Comments are closed.