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Thu, Jul 30, 2009

House Challenges President Obama, Passes Defense Appropriations Bill

Measure Contains Money For Two Programs That Have Drawn Veto Threats

The U.S. House Of Representatives Thursday passed a Defense Appropriations Bill 400-30 which contains four programs that President Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates have said are a waste of taxpayer money.

The overwhelming vote may bee seen as a gauntlet thrown down in defiance of a President who has said he would veto the bill over two of the four programs in the bill.

Bloomberg reports that the measure includes $485 million to buy the first five VH-71 Helicopters, $560 million for the F136 alternate engine for the F35 JSF, both of which have drawn specific veto threats from the President. There is also $495 million for nine Boeing Co. F-18E/F fighters, and $674 million to buy three Boeing C-17 transport jets.

After the overwhelming vote in the House today, Predental Spokesman Robert Gibbs reiterated that veto threat. While the bill is a challenge to the President, it is far from the final word on defense spending for the coming fiscal year. The Senate has yet to pass a DOD appropriations bill. When they do, it will need to be reconciled with the House bill before going for a final vote. There are also separate authorization bills to be passed by both chambers and reconciled. It is not unheard of for money to be appropriated with no authorization to spend it.

VH-71

The House did vote, by a much narrower margin, to strip $369 million from the bill for additional F-22 Raptors, the third program that has drawn a veto threat from Obama. That vote was 269-165, and represents a victory for the President and Gates, who had said the F-22 represented a cold-war fighter that had a diminished role in modern warfare. The vote likely will end debate over extending the F-22 program beyond 187 aircraft.

FMI: www.house.gov, www.whitehouse.gov

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