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Obama Wins Big Senate Vote to Stop Funding F-22s

July 21, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Last week, President Obama threatened to veto the FY10 Department of Defense Authorization bill if Congress insisted on including $1.75 billion for the Air Force to buy more F-22s fighter jets. Obama and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates argued that the additional jets were not needed and that to buy more of them would be to “waste valuable resources that should be more usefully employed to provide our troops with the weapons that they actually do need.”

But the jets’ manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, has significant influence in Congress. Their work is spread across 44 states, which means that there are a lot of members of Congress that want to get them federal money whenever they can.

Senate Armed Services Chairman Sen. Carl Levin [D, MI] and ranking member Sen. John McCain [R, AZ] took Obama’s side on the issue and presented an amendment to strip the F-22 funding from the bill. Today, the Senate voted to approve the amendment by a vote of 58-40. Fourteen Democrats and Independent-Democrat Sen. Joseph Lieberman [CT] voted against Obama. Fifteen Republicans crossed over to vote with Obama against the F-22 money.

“The size of this victory is directly attributable to the president of the United States and the secretary of Defense,” McCain said after the vote. “We might have won, but not the way that we did” without the administration’s support, he said.

Obama said he was grateful for the Senate’s vote. “At a time when we’re fighting two wars and facing a serious deficit, this would have been an inexcusable waste of money,” he said. “Every dollar of waste in our defense budget is a dollar we can’t spend to support our troops, or prepare for future threats, or protect the American people,” he said. “Our budget is a zero-sum game, and if more money goes to F-22s, it is our troops and citizens who lose.”

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