View Full Version : Senate Rebuffs Obama, McCain on C-17s

10-01-2009, 03:24 PM
Senate Rebuffs Obama, McCain on C-17s
Associated Press | October 01, 2009
WASHINGTON - In a rebuff to both President Barack Obama and his former presidential opponent, Republican Sen. John McCain, the Senate on Wednesday rejected an effort to kill $2.5 billion for 10 new C-17 cargo jets and devote the money to military readiness accounts.

Although the Pentagon says its fleet of C-17s is large enough, the Senate voted 64-34 to keep the funding for the additional jets. While Obama has employed veto threats in his efforts to kill the F-22 fighter and the way-over-budget VH-71 presidential helicopter, he has not been as strongly opposed to the C-17.

The cargo jet has sweeping support in Congress and is being used in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. The planes are assembled by The Boeing Co. in Long Beach, Calif., and its parts are made by subcontractors across the country.

McCain said it was "really egregious" to take money from operations and maintenance accounts - they fund fuel, spare parts, training and military exercises or repair and replace equipment damaged in arduous conditions overseas - and devote the money for planes the Pentagon says it doesn't need.

McCain said the vote is a "defining moment" in Obama's presidency and warned that if the president doesn't veto the bill, he'll send a signal to the defense lobby that he can be steamrolled.

"We will be sending a signal to every lobbyist in this town - and there are thousands - that if you lobby hard enough and if you've got enough subcontractors, you can do anything," McCain said.

Obama wasn't willing to threaten a veto over the C-17, which lawmakers appear to have read as a green light to provide for the planes. Senators said the White House wasn't actively lobbying the vote - while confident Boeing lobbyists worked the vote in a reception room off the Senate floor.

The entire Democratic leadership opposed Obama on the vote. Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., a proponent of the additional planes, said that the tempo of airlift operations justifies the additional planes and that the C-17 is replacing an aging fleet of C-5 planes. Engines for the C-17 are built in Connecticut by Pratt & Whitney

McCain needed 60 votes in the 100-member Senate to prevail since his amendment fell afoul of budget rules. He promised another vote aimed at stopping the additional planes on Thursday.