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Boeing CEO grilled about salary, accountability in second day of congressional questioning

Key Points
  • In a heated exchange, Rep. Steve Cohen asks Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg whether he is taking responsibility for the fallout from the 737 Max crashes.
  • Cohen asks if Muilenburg or anyone else at the company will be taking a pay cut because of 737 Max issues. Muilenburg says the board will make those decisions.
  • Boeing replaced the head of its commercial airplane unit Kevin McAllister earlier this month. He is the senior-most executive to leave in the wake of the catastrophes.
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Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg grilled over salary, accountability at House hearing

Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg was grilled about his salary on Wednesday, the second day of congressional hearings about the company's 737 Max jets, which were involved in two fatal crashes.

Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., questioned in a heated exchange whether Muilenburg was taking responsibility for the fallout from the crashes, which killed 346 people in total. Cohen asked if anyone at the company had taken a pay cut amid the grounding of the 737 Max.

"You're saying you're not giving up any compensation at all," Cohen asked Muilenburg. "You're continuing to work and make $30 million a year after this horrific two accidents that caused all these people's relatives to go, to disappear, to die."

Muilenburg earned total compensation of just under $23.4 million for 2018, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. He also cashed in delayed stock payouts from previous years, bringing his total actual compensation for the year to $30 million.

Boeing is not handing out executive bonuses this year, according to a company spokesperson.

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When Muilenburg was asked directly if he would take a cut in pay, he said the company's board makes those decisions.

"You're not accountable then," Cohen said. "You're saying the board's accountable."

Boeing replaced the head of its commercial airplane unit Kevin McAllister earlier this month. He is the senior-most executive to leave in the wake of the catastrophes.

Muilenburg said during the questioning Wednesday by members of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure that he has not offered to resign following the 737 Max crashes.

Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., who chairs the committee, also challenged Muilenburg on his compensation and the consequences he has faced after the two crashes.

"You are the CEO of the largest aircraft manufacturer in the world," DeFazio said. "You're earning a heck of a lot of money, and so far the consequence to you has been, oh, you're not chairman of the board anymore."

Muilenburg appeared before the Senate Commerce Committee on Tuesday.

Here is the full exchange between Cohen and Muilenburg:

Cohen: Is anybody at Boeing taking a cut or working for free to try to rectify this problem? Like the Japanese would do?

Muilenburg: Congressman, my board will conduct a comprehensive review ...

Cohen: So you're saying you're not giving up any compensation at all? You're continuing to work and make $30 million a year after this horrific two accidents that caused all these people's relatives to go, to disappear, to die. You're not taking a cut in pay at all?

Muilenburg: Again, our board will make those determinations.

Cohen: You're not accountable then. You're saying the board's accountable.

Correction: This story has been updated to clarify the figure for Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg's 2018 salary.