Lawmakers Return Next Week, And That's When The Fireworks Will
Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Tuesday he's been
"pleasantly surprised" so far by the relatively muted response from
lawmakers after his announcement of plans to cut spending on
several high-dollar projects, including the F-22 Raptor fighter and
VH-71 presidential helicopter.
Given those cutbacks -- if approved -- would affect millions of
dollars and thousands of jobs in congressional districts all over
the country, many expected Congress to decry Gates' proposal... but
so far, the anticipated uproar hasn't come to pass.
"It seems to me that a number of the responses have been
thoughtful, and [lawmakers] have been willing to take this
seriously and in the vein it was intended," Gates told reporters
traveling with him, reports The Washington Post.
As ANN reported, in his FY 2010 Pentagon
budget submitted April 6, Gates recommended the Defense Department
cut all further funding for production of the F-22A Raptor, and
halting development of the controversial VH-71 presidential
helicopter replacement and almost equally-contentious US Air Force
Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR-X) helicopter.
Funding for those programs would be shifted instead to funding
so-called "nonconventional" warfare programs, as seen in the
current insurgent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. That plan
received the unexpected endorsement from US Air Force Secretary
Michael Donley and Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz, in a
Monday op-ed piece published in the Post.
A few lawmakers have come forward to protest those proposed
cuts, mostly to the F-22... but so far, those comments have been
There is a punch line here, though. Congress is still on its
version of "spring break," and lawmakers won't be back on the job
until next week. Gates realizes that may be when the real fireworks
"I don't know whether I am in the eye of the storm," he said