US House passes defence bill, kills F-22
The US House of Representatives passed a $636-billion defence bill Thursday after removing money to continue production of the F-22, meeting a key demand by President Barack Obama.world Updated: Jul 31, 2009 09:18 IST
The US House of Representatives passed a $636-billion defence bill Thursday after removing money to continue production of the F-22, meeting a key demand by President Barack Obama.
The bill, for fiscal 2010 and including $128 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, passed by a 400-30 vote. Lawmakers voted 269-165 to slash $369 million designated as down payments for the F-22 Raptor.
Obama and Defence Secretary Robert Gates had lobbied Congress to cut funding for any F-22 beyond the 187 already planned, arguing that while highly advanced, it came at too high a cost and was a legacy of the Cold War.
At $150 million each, the F-22 has been riddled with cost overruns, and drains money from other priorities like providing troops with the tools needed to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Gates said.
Obama had threatened to veto the bill if the fighter jet was kept alive.
Earlier this month the Senate voted under a veto threat to remove $1.75 billion from a $680-billion defence policy bill for seven more F-22.
The White House and Gates have sought to reshape the Pentagon's budget priorities and get rid of Cold War-era weapons systems seen as too expensive and ineffective in waging Counter insurgencies.
But they face fierce resistance from lawmakers worried about cutting jobs during a recession, especially those whose states face job losses if production of the Lockheed Martin-built F-22 ends.
Lockheed Martin says there are 25,000 jobs nationwide directly dependent on the F-22 and thousands of others in support of the programme.
The bill, however, poses other problems for Obama. Lawmakers elected to retain funding to develop an alternative engine for the F-35 Lightning II, a multi-role fighter that has yet to go into full production. They're estimated to cost about $80 million each.
The House also approved funding for a new presidential helicopter.
Obama has said he will veto a bill that provides money for both the helicopter and the F-35 alternative engine.
The Senate has yet to take up the defence budget legislation.