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Sat, Jun 27, 2009

Senate Joins House In Support Of F-22, JSF Alternative Engine

Armed Services Committee Defies White House, Approves Funding

The Senate Armed Services Committee voted Thursday 13-11 to authorize $1.75 billion for the embattled F-22 Raptor program, as well as providing $438.9 million to continue development of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter alternate engine. President Obama has threatened to veto the Defense Authorization Bill if those items are included in the final version.

Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) said that the bill still largely reflects the wishes of the President and Secretary of Defense. In a news release, Levin said "This is a solid bipartisan bill that supports the men and women of the armed forces, both active and reserve, and their families, and provides them with the pay, benefits, equipment, and training that they need. I want to commend Senator McCain for his steadfast support throughout the markup process and for his commitment to our national security.”

But the funding for both the Raptor and the JSF Alternative Engine program could produce a showdown with the White House over those programs.

As ANN has previously reported, Defense Secretary Robert Gates has asked to reduce the number of Raptors built to 187. But some in Congress think the U.S. Armed Services need more of the stealthy aircraft, and also have mulled exporting them to other countries. That would require an additional Act of Congress.

The House Armed Services Committee had already approved additional money for both the F-22 and the JSF alternative engine, prompting the veto threat.

The New York Times reports that the SASC also included nine more FA/-18 Hornets than had been included in the Defense Department request.

Both the House and Senate versions of the bill will have to go through their respective full appropriations committees, where members are likely to come under increased pressure from the White House to kill the programs.

FMI: www.senate.gove, www.whitehouse.gov

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