View Full Version : U.S. Lawmakers Pass $550B Pentagon Budget

06-26-2009, 08:18 AM
US lawmakers pass Pentagon budget, ignore veto threat



Defying a possible presidential veto, the US House of Representatives on Thursday approved a 2010 defense spending bill that would continue to fund a weapons program targeted by the Obama administration.

Lawmakers voted 389 to 22 to pass the 550.4-billion-dollar measure, despite veto warnings from the White House unless a provision to build more F-22 stealth jet fighters is dropped.

The White House also balked at 603 million dollars added to the House bill to continue developing a backup engine for the F-35 strike fighter being built by General Electric, Co. and Rolls Royce Group.

The bill, which also includes 130 billion dollars to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for the fiscal year beginning on October 1, still requires the Senate to pass the bill and for the chambers to agree on a compromise version before it can go to President Barack Obama to be signed into law.

The House Armed Services Committee passed an amendment last week to provide 369 million dollars over two years to purchase parts to construct 12 more of the F-22 fighters, which are built by Lockheed Martin and Boeing.

Meanwhile, the Senate Armed Services Committee approved on Thursday its version of the Pentagon budget resolution, which included 1.7 billion dollars to fund seven more of the premier US fighter jets. The Senate bill also included a 3.4 percent salary increase for military personnel.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates had sought to cap production at 187 F-22s, meaning only four more would be built. But many Republicans balked at the administration's plans.

The Air Force has also long disagreed with halting production, and just last year called for a fleet of 381 fighters.

Last year Gates sacked the service's two top leaders officially over two major nuclear-related blunders, but his decision was also largely seen as having stemmed from their position on the F-22 program.

In 2009, the Pentagon spent 2.9 billion dollars on the planes, which cost some 200 million dollars each. Critics say the fighter, first made during the Cold War, has not been adapted to current conflicts.

Supporters say that there is a need to ensure US air superiority as China and Russia invest in fighter jets.

The Raptor has not been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan.

Some key US allies, including Japan, have long sought to acquire the F-22, which is currently subject to an export ban.