By Diane Bartz
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat who wants more mergers scrutinized, questioned Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin about the Pentagon’s role in the approval in July of L3 Harris Technologies’ purchase of Aerojet Rocketdyne at a time when the number of defense contractors is at a historic low.
L3 Harris said on July 26 it was informed that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission would not block its $4.7 billion deal for Aerojet Rocketdyne. It closed the deal within days.
Warren, who had expressed concern about the transaction before it went forward, and other Democratic lawmakers pressed top Pentagon officials on Thursday to keep an eye on the new, bigger company.
“It is imperative that the public be informed about potential conditions of the deal, what enforcement and oversight mechanisms exist to enforce promises made by L3Harris about the deal, and what information the DoD provided to the Federal Trade Commission,” they wrote in the letter sent to Austin and William LaPlante, under secretary for acquisition.
The letter was signed by Warren, chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Personnel, as well as U.S. Representatives John Garamendi and Mark Pocan. All are Democrats.
The Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The lawmakers noted concerns that the Defense Department had expressed before the transaction was announced about how the defense industrial base was “historically consolidated” because of previous transactions.
They also said they were concerned about reports that L3 Harris did not have a formal consent agreement to win approval for the deal but gave assurances to supply rocket motors and engines.
The lawmakers also requested correspondence between the Pentagon and the companies regarding potential conditions, including how they would be enforced. She asked for answers to these and other questions by September 27.
(Reporting by Diane Bartz; additional reporting by Mike Stone; editing by Timothy Gardner)