House To Gates: We Like F136; Some GOP Oppose

The House of Representatives looks set to approve $450 million for the second engine for the Joint Strike Fighter, ready to thumb its collective nose at Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the Obama administration and its boldly stated opposition to the program. While a final vote on HR 1, the omnibus spending bill cobbled together by the House Appropriation Committee, isn't likely until Thursday, the result is likely to be approval.

CORRECTS:  Sponsor of F136 Amendment

The House of Representatives looks set to approve $450 million for the second engine for the Joint Strike Fighter, ready to thumb its collective nose at Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the Obama administration and its boldly stated opposition to the program.

While a final vote on HR 1, the omnibus spending bill cobbled together by the House Appropriation Committee, isn’t likely until Thursday the result is likely to be approval. TwoA junior Republican — freshman Mike Pompeo and Rep. Tom Rooney (in his second term) — did introduce an amendment to the bill which would cut the $450 million. Other freshman Republicans — Rep. Robert Dold. and Rep. Tim Griffin, started to gather signatures for a letter to President Obama applauding his opposition to the F136. What do these efforts have in common? They are efforts by newly elected members of the House to influence those who run the House. Should they succeed in stripping the engine funding from the bill it would mark a serious blow to the power of the chairman of the House Appropriation Committee, Rep. Hal Rogers, and, as such, is unlikely to unopposed by the cardinals. It will also be an excellent learning experience for both sides. Not to mention they would be taking on Rep. Bill Young, chair of the defense subcommittee…

The bill may pass the House but the Senate may well be another story. As the House readied to work its way through amendments, Sen. Daniel Inouye, chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, issued a sharp note of disapproval.

“The impact of H.R. 1 on the ability of the federal government to perform even some of its most basic functions is, in many instances, severe.  The Constitution requires of the government that it ‘…establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity…’.  The House Republican proposal would undermine our ability to live up to these ideals, and do little to address the long-term fiscal challenges facing our nation.

“There is no doubt that we must find a way to reduce our deficit and put America back on the path to a balanced budget.  Part of the solution will be to eliminate programs that are no longer necessary, and to improve the efficiency of those that are.  But many of the reductions proposed by the House were made not because programs were ineffective or wasteful, but out of desire to meet an arbitrary dollar figure cited during a political campaign.  Many of the recommendations in this bill resulted from a ‘meat cleaver’ approach to budget cuts, when we should be using a scalpel – responsibly identifying specific programs that are wasteful or unneeded.”

So the House bill may be dead on arrival in the Senate. But the chances of the F136 surviving for another year are better than they might have seemed yesterday with the senior appropriators and leadership of the House clearly comfortable with spending money on the second engine.