Biden touts jobs from Saudi Arabia’s Boeing buys after promising ‘reset’

The Biden administration is touting a multibillion-dollar aerospace deal between Boeing and Saudi Arabia as a win for American industry, signaling detente between the White House and the kingdom after it slashed oil production quotas ahead of the midterm elections.

Less clear is how the deal fits into President Joe Biden’s pledge to hold the kingdom accountable after OPEC+ announced a cut to oil production quotas, with bipartisan senators continuing to press the Biden administration to examine the U.S.-Saudi ties.


Biden’s press secretary said the administration was “pleased that Boeing was able to finally conclude these deals with Saudi Arabia after years of discussions and intensive negotiations over recent months.” Two Saudi airlines said they would buy dozens of Boeing 787 Dreamliner jets in a nearly $37 billion agreement this week.

The OPEC+ cut hardened congressional opposition to Saudi Arabia. But absent movement from the White House, some senators are pressing for greater accountability in the relationship.

Biden had initially pledged to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah” in response to Jamal Khashoggi’s killing. A U.S. intelligence report released after Biden took office determined the crown prince was responsible for the former Washington Post columnist’s murder. His widow unsuccessfully urged Biden to sit down with her before traveling to the region. And the kingdom is accused of other human rights abuses, including the detention of now-released U.S. citizens who have been unable to leave the country.

Sens. Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced a resolution Wednesday pushing the Biden administration to formally assess Saudi Arabia’s human rights record. If passed, the measure could act as a step toward reassessing U.S. security assistance for the kingdom.

The White House National Security Council did not respond to a request for comment on the resolution.

Aides have downplayed Biden’s pledge to reevaluate the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia after the OPEC decision, dismissing expectations for “a homework assignment” holding the kingdom accountable.

Instead, the Biden administration has argued that the president is focused on maximizing outcomes for the public, with Boeing’s deal evincing another path.

“This is a clear win for American manufacturers and workers” that will support 140,000 jobs across 38 states, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said in a statement.

It’s an appeal Biden sought to harness in the 2020 presidential election when he pitched voters on a trade agenda that he said would promote workers’ interests.

Now, Biden is leaning on his trade agenda to drive a wedge inside the GOP ahead of the debt ceiling negotiations.


The White House stepped up its attacks on conservative Republicans this week, accusing them of threatening to “kill tens of thousands of jobs” in conservative states and send them overseas.

The Boeing follows a decision by Saudi Arabia and Iran to restore diplomatic ties in a China-brokered deal, indicating a potential reordering of regional alliances that the White House said it welcomes.

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