Lawmaker drops support for more F-22s

House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman John Murtha, D-Pa., on Wednesday announced he is abandoning efforts to keep production lines for the Air Force's F-22 Raptor fighter jet open after the existing order for 187 aircraft is met.

The fierce defender of congressional prerogatives to reorder administration spending priorities dropped this bombshell as the House Appropriations Committee approved by voice vote its version of the fiscal 2010 Defense spending bill.

The bill includes a $369 million down payment for 12 F-22s in fiscal 2011 that had not been requested by the Pentagon. But Murtha said he would offer an amendment when the House debates the bill next week to strip the funding for the additional F-22s.

Under his amendment, the money would be used instead for parts, such as engines, for the 187 F-22s planned and perhaps for parts for other aircraft, including C-17s.

Murtha has supported buying more F-22s, but he said the Senate's 58-40 vote Tuesday to strip F-22 funding from the fiscal 2010 defense authorization bill -- coupled with President Obama's threat to veto any bill that contains funding for more of the Lockheed Martin-produced fighters -- made him change his mind.

"When the Senate said, 58 to 40, then I think that ended the debate," he said after the committee markup. "You can talk about it, but it's not going to happen."

Although the House still must vote on Murtha's amendment, his decision marks another victory for the Obama administration, which expended an enormous amount of political capital to rid the Senate's defense authorization bill of $1.75 billion to buy seven F-22s next year.

Murtha said he could not work out details of the amendment before Wednesday's markup, but added he would like to include his F-22 language as part of a managers' package of amendments during floor debate, which he expects to occur July 30.

Any move to strip the funding for more F-22s from the bill has the support of House Appropriations Chairman David Obey, D-Wis., who said on Wednesday he does not want the bill to include veto bait by allocating money for more of the radar-evading fighters.

"They [the Obama administration] made quite clear to me that they intend to veto any bill that contains funding for the F-22," Obey said. "I think it would be unfortunate that we wind up in a situation where the bill cannot move forward."

Murtha said he now wants to ensure that spare parts for the F-22 fleet are "robustly funded" because of maintenance problems with the planes.

Meanwhile, Murtha said he does not support the administration's plans to reprogram money within the fiscal 2010 budget to pay for an influx of 22,000 troops next year, as Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced this week.

Instead, he would prefer the funding for the additional troops -- which could top $1 billion in fiscal 2010 alone -- come in the form of a budget amendment.

"I told them I didn't want to see a reprogramming," he said. "That is unacceptable. You can't find that kind of money. If you do find that kind of money, then they sent up a bad budget."

Murtha reiterated his belief that a supplemental spending bill will be needed in fiscal 2010, explaining that the bill's $128 billion for ongoing military operations will not be enough.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.