View Full Version : F-22s in Spending Bill May Spur White House Veto

06-24-2009, 09:06 PM
F-22s in Spending Bill May Spur White House Veto
By william matthews
Published: 24 Jun 2009 16:42

The White House is threatening to veto the 2010 defense authorization bill if Congress includes money for more F-22 stealth fighters.

The threat, which came Wednesday in a three-page reaction to the House Armed Services Committee's version of the bill, was expected, and had already been discounted by some lawmakers. Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii, said June 18 that a presidential veto of the $680 billion spending bill is virtually out of the question.

"Does anybody seriously believe, given that we have troops in the field in two wars and the possibility of other deployments that may come up, that people in this country would put up with a veto?" Abercrombie asked. Besides, "it would be overridden in a nanosecond," he said.

But the threat is there, nonetheless.

"The administration strongly objects to the provisions in the bill authorizing $369 million in advanced procurement funds for F-22s in fiscal year 2011," a Statement of Administration Policy says.

The 187 F-22s now in service or under construction are "sufficient to meet operational requirements," the document says. "If the final bill presented to the president contains this provision, the president's senior advisers would recommend a veto."

The Obama administration is also unhappy about the House committee's decision to add $603 million to continue developing an alternative engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

The engine dispute is an ongoing spat between the Pentagon and Congress. Presidential administrations have for several years tried to kill the alternative engine, contending that it is unnecessary, and each year Congress adds money to the budget to keep the program going.

Lawmakers say a second engine is needed in case the original develops a flaw. Eventually, about 90 percent of the U.S. military's fighters will run on the JSF engine, and "we cannot afford to have an engine glitch that grounds 90 percent of our fleet," the Armed Services Committee said in a report on the authorization bill.

The veto threat over the second engine was less direct. It warns of a veto if "the final bill presented to the president would seriously disrupt the F-35 program."

The administration also objects to a requirement in the bill that the Air Force must maintain 316 large airlifters. Lawmakers set the number so they could buy more C-17s despite Air Force claims that they are not needed.

And the administration wants restrictions removed from the authorization bill that block the Air Force from retiring some of its C-5 cargo planes and other aircraft.

The decision to cut $163 million - a 50 percent reduction - from the Extended Range Multi-Purpose Unmanned Aerial Vehicle program drew a White House rebuke. The surveillance UAVs are needed for force protection in current operations, the White House said.

The full House was expected to begin debating the authorization act as early as Wednesday. http://www.defensenews.com/story.php?i=4155482&c=AME&s=AIR