Boeing ally not expected to seek funds for more C-17s

House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash., is preparing a fiscal 2011 Defense spending bill that defense sources expect will not include funding to buy more Boeing C-17 cargo planes or to keep alive an alternate engine program for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

By rejecting funding for those two high-profile programs, Dicks would avert veto threats from the White House, which considers any spending to keep alive the F-35 second engine and the C-17 programs as wasteful. The panel plans to meet Tuesday to consider the measure.

A spokesman for Dicks would not comment on the details of the chairman's mark, saying it would not be final until next week.

But if Dicks moves forward as expected, his decision not to include funding for more C-17s would run counter to the chairman's reputation as one of Boeing's biggest supporters on Capitol Hill.

The aerospace giant, which builds commercial aircraft at a plant just outside Dicks' district, has lobbied to include five C-17s in fiscal 2011 to supplement international orders and keep the production lines running at optimum speed, several defense sources recently told CongressDaily.

But Defense Secretary Robert Gates wants to end the C-17 program with the 223 planes now on order. And he has said repeatedly that he would recommend President Obama veto any legislation that keeps the procurement program alive.

Dicks, who is drafting his first Defense spending bill since succeeding the late Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., as subcommittee chairman, is "obviously concerned about the perception of being the congressman from Boeing," said one defense source tracking the issue. "It is hard to tell the engine guys 'no' and then add C-17s."

Neither version of the fiscal 2011 defense authorization bill passed by the House or the Senate Armed Services Committee includes funding for the cargo planes. But appropriators have long favored the C-17, adding 43 unrequested planes to spending bills over the last several years.

On the F-35 engine issue, Dicks could face stiff opposition within his subcommittee over his stance on the aircraft's alternate engine, built by General Electric Co. and Rolls-Royce Group. Connecticut-based Pratt & Whitney builds the primary engine for the fighter jets.

The subcommittee's backers of the alternate engine could challenge Dicks with an amendment during next week's markup that would add funding for the program Gates wants to terminate, sources said.

"I suspect there will be a discussion on that issue," Defense Appropriations Subcommittee ranking member Rep. C.W. (Bill) Young, R-Fla., said Tuesday.

The alternate engine would create about 4,000 jobs in several states, including about 150 at Rolls-Royce in Indianapolis and roughly 1,000 at General Electric's plant outside of Cincinnati. Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, whose district is near GE's Ohio plant, has pushed to keep the engine program alive even though many budget hawks and groups such as Citizens Against Government Waste have criticized it as "high-flying waste."

In May, Dicks voted for an amendment to the fiscal 2011 defense authorization measure that would have stripped $485 million in the bill for the second engine. That amendment failed 231-193 despite a White House threat to veto any bill authorizing funding for the GE/Rolls Royce engine.

Next week's subcommittee markup could see the same result if an amendment is introduced to add funding for the alternate engine. The panel is stacked with members whose states could be adversely affected by ending the program and some Republican members may opt to back Boehner's effort to save the engine.

Supporters of the second engine argue that competition against the F-35's primary engine would drive down costs on the $100 billion alternate engine program and provide a back-up for the multiservice fighter.

Gates has fiercely argued for years that the $2.9 billion investment needed for the second engine over the next six years is not worth the potential benefit of manufacturing two different engines for the single-engine F-35.

"Every dollar additional to the budget that we have to put into the F-35 is a dollar taken from something else that the troops may need," Gates said last year.

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:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


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