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It’s sad to see Senators who cry about the cost of this and that go out of their way to spend $1.75 billion on planes we do not need and have never used in combat. David Lightman and Nancy A. Youssef write in McClatchy:

Congress and the White House are heading toward a showdown over the future of the F-22 jet fighter, as the Senate plans to consider adding seven more of the planes while the Obama administration warns that a veto is likely over the issue.

"If the final bill presented to the president contains this provision, the president’s senior advisers would recommend a veto," said a "Statement of Administration Policy" last week that White House spokesman Robert Gibbs reiterated Monday.

Senate Armed Services Committee members, who also defied their own congressional leaders on the question, are moving ahead anyway, however. The panel on Thursday narrowly approved $1.75 billion for seven F-22s in the fiscal 2010 defense authorization bill, which the full Senate is expected to take up when it returns in July.

"It is regrettable that the administration needs to issue a veto threat for funding intended to meet a real national-security requirement that has been consistently confirmed by our uniformed military leaders," argued Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., a committee member.

Pentagon Secretary Robert Gates’ effort to end production of the F-22 at 187 planes is part of an ambitious overhaul of military spending practices that he unveiled this spring.

The Senate’s action was the second rebuff to that plan in recent days. The House of Representatives voted last week on a fiscal 2010 defense-authorization bill that included a down payment to build a dozen more planes.

The Pentagon reacted sharply Monday.

"There is simply no military need for F-22s above and beyond the 187 Secretary Gates has recommended and President Barack Obama has requested," Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said.

He also questioned the inclusion of a second engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, contained in the House and Senate versions of the bill, saying that Gates "views attempts to add any of those items to the department’s budget as a big problem."

While the F-22 is an Air Force favorite and a staple of its fleet, Gates has dubbed the plane "a niche, silver-bullet solution required for a limited number of scenarios." He prefers the F-35, which has more advanced stealth and air-to-ground capability.

The secretary is up against strong local interests, however. Contractors have estimated that halting the planes now ordered could cost 95,000 jobs in 46 states, figures that Gates disputes. [As does the GOP, which has said repeatedly that government spending does not create jobs. The GOP thus maintains that cutting out the F-22 would cost NO jobs. – LG]

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 June 2009 at 10:13 am

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