Senate strips extra F-22 funding from defense bill

Two U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor aircraft after inflight refueling off the coast of Florida. Associated Press/U.S. Air Force

Two U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor aircraft after inflight refueling off the coast of Florida. Associated Press/U.S. Air Force

The U.S. Senate just approved a measure to strike increased funding for the Marietta-built F-22 Raptor, bowing to a veto threat from President Barack Obama.

The vote was 58-40 — not as close as many expected.

U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss led the support for the purchase of seven additional stealth fighters, forming an alliance with Democrats from states whose economies would be affected by the vote.

The vote was marked by a cross-party flow. John McCain (R-Ariz.) allied himself with President Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Gates advocated that the U.S. military cap the number of stealth fighters at 187. Obama promised to veto the $680 billion defense spending bill if the extra F-22 spending were not removed.

Two of the more notable votes against extra F-22 funding were John Ensign (R-Nevada) and Jim DeMint (R-S.C.). Moderate Republican Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) sided with Chambliss. Barbara Boxer (D-California) sided with Chambliss.

McCain, whom Chambliss endorsed in the 2008 presidential primary, gave one of the closing arguments, and repeatedly called for an end to “business as usual” defense procurement.

“We’re not saying the F-22 is not a good aircraft. We’re saying it’s time to end production,” he argued.

Many senators supporting continued production pointed to jobs that would be lost nationwide. About 6,000 people work at the Lockheed Martin plant in Marietta. The plant’s payroll last year was $528 million. It is Cobb County’s second-largest private employer, trailing WellStar Health System.

Lockheed has been relatively silent during the debate over the F-22. The defense bill at issue also contains spending for production of another jet, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. This spring, Georgia’s congressional delegations said they were assured by Lockheed Martin that the 2,000 employees who assemble the F-22 will probably still have their jobs with or without the plane.

Chambliss acknowledged concerns about cost. “This is an expensive weapon. But this is the most sophisticated weapons system ever designed by mankind,” Chambliss said. Much of the debate had to do with limited U.S. resources and whether warfare involving air-to-air combat was on the horizon.

The F-22 is designed to destroy rival air power — which barely existed in the Iraq war and plays no role in the Afghanistan conflict.

From the floor, Chambliss read this paragraph from a Washington Times op-ed piece written by Richard D. Fisher Jr. of the International Assessment and Strategy Center, in today’s Washington Times:

Though the Chinese government says next to nothing and the U.S. government says very little, what is known about China’s fifth-generation fighter program is disturbing. Both of China’s fighter manufacturers, the Shenyang and Chengdu Aircraft corporations, are competing to build a heavy fifth-generation fighter, and there are serious indicators China may be working on a medium-weight fifth-generation fighter similar to the F-35. China can be expected to put a fifth-generation fighter on its future aircraft carriers, and it can be expected to build more than 187.

As noted in The Hill, passions stirred by the debate could be measured by the appearance of a frail Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W. Va.), who voted to preserve F-22 funding:

Byrd, 91, had been hospitalized with an infection for the better part of two months. An initial infection had worsened while Byrd was in the hospital. He was finally released June 30, but only returned to the Senate on Tuesday.

The Washington Post gave this assessment:

The decision was a key policy victory for Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who has been campaigning against the plane since April as a centerpiece of his effort to “fundamentally reshape the priorities of America’s defense establishment and reform the way the Pentagon does business — in particular, the weapons we buy and how we buy them,” as he put it in a Chicago speech last Thursday.

Gates had depicted the F-22, which was conceived in the 1980s, as a “silver bullet solution” to a high-technology aerial warfare threat that has not materialized. He said other warplanes will adequately defend the country for decades to come, and won support from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Air Force’s two senior leaders. But his view was strongly opposed by others in the Air Force and by military contractors and unions that have benefited from the $65 billion program.

The New York Times adds this coda from the White House:

Immediately after the vote, Mr. Obama praised the Senate’s decision, saying that any money spent on the fighter was an “inexcusable waste.”

Senate aides said that Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and the White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, pushed hard to rally support for the president through phone calls to crucial senators.

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson just issued the following reaction:

“I’m extremely disappointed the Senate did not recognize how essential the continued production of this aircraft is to our national security as well as to the many local economies and thousands of workers that will be devastated as a result of these cuts.”

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145 comments Add your comment

DebbieDoRight

July 21st, 2009
12:49 pm

Good!!! They’ve finally come to their senses!!

BW

July 21st, 2009
12:50 pm

The funny part about the argument for continuing spending on the F-22 is that it CANNOT fly from aircraft carriers…the next gen fighter with that capability will be the F-35…which Marietta gets to build resulting in virtually zero job losses at the manufacturing plant. For someone who dislikes government on the one hand and praises the value of national defense jobs, which are created by the government, I don’t think Saxby knows whether he comes or going sometimes.

ray james

July 21st, 2009
12:50 pm

Saxby Chambliss is the most ineffective member of the senate. He andSessions from Alabama are jokes.

Tone LaRone

July 21st, 2009
12:52 pm

Wow! I am speechless. A very tough vote.

ManOfTeal

July 21st, 2009
12:52 pm

Yes lets spend that money where it is needed more. We have enough F-22’s already.

Truth Seeker

July 21st, 2009
12:52 pm

Finally cogress stands up against Defense contractors!!

Mike B.

July 21st, 2009
12:54 pm

BW I hope your’re right with the “virtually zero job losses at the manufacturing plant”. I’m not sure if the people working on the F-22 will shift to the F-35. I have close ones that work there and it would be a sad day to those employees.

[...] Galloway over at the AJC brings us the news: The U.S. Senate just approved a measure to strike increased funding for the Marietta-built F-22 [...]

Chris Dunn

July 21st, 2009
1:04 pm

BW & Msn of Teal – Where exactly did you get your Operational Experience and Military Planning Background from – a box of Fruit Loops???

Truth Seeker (not an accurate name) – LMT shut down their F-22 lobbying office months ago – I guess reading isn’t one of your strong points. P.S. learn how to spell Congress.

Proud American

July 21st, 2009
1:04 pm

The F35 will not be assembled in Marietta. Just some sub assembly work. Final assembly, much like what is done with the F22 will happen in Ft. Worth. F22 was poorly managed from the beginning which Lockheed Marietta is notoriously known for. If the plane was built else where, it would probably cost half the amount. Marietta management and local 709 are some of the sorriest in the business! Management and union to blame for the extreme cost!

extremerightwing

July 21st, 2009
1:06 pm

Good job Obama….you just did something the Chinese, North Koreans and Russians would never be able to do….you just shot down the premier air superiority fighter in the world. We can spend 65 billion bailing out the UAW…er auto industry, pay twice the rate for ham over what you could buy on the grocery store, waste billions through TARP, michelle and obama can go on $24,000 dates, but we can’t come up with 1.75 billion dollars to help maintain our national security and keep our high-tech industry going. nice work, obama and demoncrats…nice work.

IS IT NOVEMBER 4, 2010 YET?

ab

July 21st, 2009
1:07 pm

Fox and CNN are reporting that the money got “stripped” for no more F-22’s,???????

kj

July 21st, 2009
1:08 pm

Wondering if the same people who are so happy defense spending was cut by $1.75B are just as happy $65B was spent on the automakers… Ja, das auto is from Government Motors.

M D Cain

July 21st, 2009
1:10 pm

I’m glad we have so many defense experts on this board. BW, the F-35 is built in Texas not Marietta. John McCain is no friend to Lockheed. He would cancel the C-130 if he could.

Jason

July 21st, 2009
1:11 pm

Want to take on the Chinese? Then stop buying their products and stop supporting companies that outsource to China. We’re the ones building up their economy and manufacturing capabilities. We’re the ones that have created the situation where they can afford to produce and have the manufacturing base to create advanced fighters. Without our cooperation, they’d be shooting fireworks and flying balsa wood gliders.

Sorry Government working for all Americans

July 21st, 2009
1:15 pm

November 10, 2010 cant come soon enough. I just hope there is enough of America left to save………..

jconservative

July 21st, 2009
1:15 pm

Chambliss acknowledged concerns about cost. “This is an expensive weapon. But this is the most sophisticated weapons system ever designed by mankind,” Chambliss said.

But, it never flown a single combat mission despite the fact that we have been in two wars.

AFnPC

July 21st, 2009
1:20 pm

Can any of the F-35 advocates on here tell me the anticipated cost per unit of the F-35 if purchased in the same numbers as the F-22?

kitty

July 21st, 2009
1:21 pm

Not surprised about Chambliss…hypocrite that he is. Pork is only pork when it is someone else’s district. This one is in his so it isn’t pork…but if it was in SC you bet it is pork. don’t these guys ever see their own hypocrisy???

BW

July 21st, 2009
1:23 pm

My intent was to relay the jobs used to assemble the F-22 would shift to the F-35 sub-assembly, resulting in virtually no job losses from cutting the F-22 production. And Chris Dunn….I’m not sure how to answer you except to say to continue making a product in the original numbers that it was allocated to combat a non-existent threat is asinine. If there’s all-out war, then you ramp up production to meet that threat.

Jason is the man

July 21st, 2009
1:24 pm

Chris Salzmann

July 21st, 2009
1:32 pm

Good. The F-22 is after all, such a great help against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. This project has become one which has less to do with protecting the United States and more to do about Pork.

Lucas

July 21st, 2009
1:34 pm

Chinese products suck. I wish I could buy a computer that was made in the USA.

ManOfTeal

July 21st, 2009
1:35 pm

Why build a brick when you can build a stone and do more damage, is smaller, and can be transported much easier….duh? But if you’re name is Chris Dunn apparently it is more logical to just continue to build bricks.

Chris Salzmann

July 21st, 2009
1:36 pm

Sorry Government working for all Americans July 21st, 2009 1:15 pm SAID: November 10, 2010 cant come soon enough. I just hope there is enough of America left to save………..

CHRIS SAYS: Yeah, a weapon designed and built for a war that ended over a decade ago………..THE COLD WAR!!! Get your head out of your behind and get back in the 21st century. If I recall, Robert Gates, the Defense Secretary who was originally appointed by Bush, originally called for ending the F-22 program. Use the money to buy better body armor for the troops!!!

wbk

July 21st, 2009
1:37 pm

Do like bill the blue dress clinton and fire half the military. That will save a lot of money!

Steph

July 21st, 2009
1:44 pm

Obama is getting his way as usual. One more step in making sure we are defenseless and easily taken over ASAP. Just wait until N Korea or Chinese get ready to attack. Everyone might wish we had enough of the one plane that could handle nuke threats or the planes they are building! Debbie DoRight and her group obviously has blinders on when it comes to our defense. Or maybe they WANT America to fall to the enemy. Seems like Congress does…..

NJ

July 21st, 2009
1:44 pm

What people are missing is that the money saved from building a handful of very expensive and seldom used aircraft will now be free to be used to supply troops with the necessary equipment and tools they need, as well as freeing up the money for other government expenditures that are crucial.

Steve

July 21st, 2009
1:45 pm

Chambliss, just trying to bring in pork money for Georgia. Sorry…too bad, how sad.

Pompano

July 21st, 2009
1:49 pm

Heck, we should save the Chinese the trouble of developing their own fighter and just sell them the F-22’s we already have. With BO now running the show, we don’t need sophisticated weapons anymore. No reason for the Chinese to ever attack us – BO, Pelosi and slobbering Barney are working to destroy us from the inside.

Chris Salzmann

July 21st, 2009
1:53 pm

Steph July 21st, 2009 1:44 pm SAID: ……….Debbie DoRight and her group obviously has blinders on when it comes to our defense. Or maybe they WANT America to fall to the enemy. Seems like Congress does…..

CHRIS SAYS: I guess a lot of Republicans in the Senate also disagree with you. The top Republican on the committee, John McCain of Arizona, agreed that it was “a signal that we are not going to continue to build weapons systems with cost overruns which outlive their requirements for defending this nation.” LOL, so John McCain doesn’t have a clue either, right???

Frog legs

July 21st, 2009
1:56 pm

BW, Marietta will not build the F-35, Fort Worth Texas build the F-35. The F-22 was designed for the AF not the Navy. The F-22 and F-35 do tow diff jobs, but of course if you did your research you would know this. I guess it was ok to give the Auto guys 65 Billion but not 1 billion to actually see results.

Cruzin

July 21st, 2009
1:57 pm

Funny, Congress voted a pork stimulus package that isn’t going to benefit the economy one bit. Now they vote to put people out of work because it’s a defense program, and we all know how the Dems hate the military. I bet if Lockheed were making condoms, they would receive the funding with no objections raised.

Pragmatist

July 21st, 2009
1:58 pm

The military and u.s. gov’t needs to quit wasting money on all these $500 million weapons of the future against “enemies of the future.” The US can’t afford what they have now, much less lobbyist driven waste like the f-22, that will likely never even be used in combat. Billions down the drain.

Face up to their own mistakes

July 21st, 2009
2:02 pm

Maybe these idiot U.S. Senators are in the Chinese pockets so they can buy the “cheaper” Chinese Built 5th generation fighters. I have always wondered how some of these people get into office and which idiots voted them in?

Tbaggins

July 21st, 2009
2:02 pm

Teabaggers unite! Damnation. Dems want to spend money fixin healthcare. We’ve been working on a fix since the Clintons in the 90s and need more time. They want to rollback the tax breaks for the rich and lower taxes to 98% of Americans. They want to fix the economy we left a mess. They spend money and we protest for the debt they will leave our kids. They conspired to have a Kenyan as president. Now they want to cut military programs that even the military says they don’t need. We should only listen to the military leaders when they support the Cheney objective, otherwise ignore them. Oh I hope there is only a country left so that Texas and Alaska can succeed but in the meantime keep on taking that stim money. Socialists dont fly F-22’s! Thankfully there is one network that is not part of the liberal media that still listens. Put the truth aside for what matters – sell the kids to pay for these planes.

F22 Guy

July 21st, 2009
2:03 pm

Thank you Saxby What’s in It for Me Chambliss, I’m out of a job but guess you won’t be getting a BIG bonus from the lobbyist.

ManOfTeal

July 21st, 2009
2:03 pm

Starscream is an F-22.

Harvey

July 21st, 2009
2:09 pm

What have Saxby Chambliss done for the entire state of Georgia except to make sure the right wing Red Neck Rebublican in Cobb County keep there jobs by milking the rest of the country for a cause that is not needed at this time. I am a veteran and he claims he has done so much for Vets but and ask him “WHAT’ have you done and the answer is none to nothing. He has been sitting on his duff getting a pay check to do nothing. The area that he talks about helping most of the time are those die heart racist red neck in Cobb County. Did they vote for the president? No they didn’t but here they come with there hands out begging for help but would not support the cause and after the election they still had harsh words to say about the process, but when Sunday morning comes, they are all in chruch singing praise but I can assure you if you ask one of them what color is God and they will all say “boy hes White”. Georgia wake up we can do better by electing someone who will serve all the people instead of one group. Mr. President we do not need another F-22 at this point when our economy is suffering from the Bush and Chaney mess. We can do better.

Chris Salzmann

July 21st, 2009
2:09 pm

F22 Guy July 21st, 2009 2:03 pm SAID: Thank you Saxby What’s in It for Me Chambliss, I’m out of a job but guess you won’t be getting a BIG bonus from the lobbyist.

CHRIS SAYS: This sentence pretty much sums up the problem with this country today. WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME??? Doesn’t matter that we don’t need this jet anymore; that its overpriced, that it was designed for an enemy that doesn’t exist anymore, etc, etc, etc.

F-22 Guy, welcome to the real world. This isn’t about you anymore but about money for things our troops need RIGHT NOW!!!

Porker Saxby

July 21st, 2009
2:09 pm

Its great that 58 senators saw fit to not buy more useless to our defense/not needed F-22s(according to Pentagon) unlike our own porker Saxby who is just a political hack attempting to buy votes from the Lockheed crowd!!! He is a liar and hypocrite when he spouts he is “looking out for taxpayers” as is the other lying Georgia political porkers!!!!

Bob In Winder

July 21st, 2009
2:11 pm

Guess I’d better not sell my company and hire a lobbyist, the taxpayer finally won one. Saxby lost this one for Georgia just like the immigration mess, he gets in bed with the liberals like Boxer, Dodd, and Kennedy and the taxpayer gets screwed.

jay

July 21st, 2009
2:12 pm

We already have the air superiority fighter. Its
called the F16. The F22 doesn’t have a mission. Its
a beautiful looking fighter and its performance specs. are amazing, but like the B1 and B2, this plane doesn’t have an enemy justifying the expense.

Bcruzin

July 21st, 2009
2:13 pm

Once again, False info flowing freely from the left. Obama and the Dems just killed jobs in 44 states represented by 1100 Vendors. Not one job has been created with the stimulus money, not one job has come back to the states and We had no problems giving AGI and auto makers 10’s of billions of dollars and we dont get squat. Our AF pilots are flying in 40 year old F-15’s and your happy about this.

AFWarrior

July 21st, 2009
2:15 pm

The Chief of Staff of the Air Force did not want additional F22’s; the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff did not want additional F22’s; Defense Secretary Gates did not want additional F22’s… President Obama listened to his military advisors. Let China or North Korea develope a 5th generation fighter. No Air Force Fighter Pilot has ever heard tone from a MiG-29.

Daedalus

July 21st, 2009
2:15 pm

I cannot believe that all these Repubs are upset about Gates not wanting more F-22’s. Its not just Obama getting his way — not renewing the F-22 is Defense Secretary Gates’ decision. Gates is a Republican, and about the only sane, honest Republican left on the national scene.

The F-22 cannot cannot fly in the rain. That is a pretty significant flaw. Its a waste of $$$ and Saxby, well, he’s an idiot.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/09/AR2009070903020.html

Frogman

July 21st, 2009
2:16 pm

Jay
. Please do research on the job of the F-16 before you make stupid statements. The F-16 is not a Air superiority A/C. It was designed for ground support and putting bombs on target, The justification is saving pilots lives

Frogman

July 21st, 2009
2:18 pm

Dae your statement is wrong, this false statement was put out by the same rag that wanted the plane killed. It was rebutted by the military and Lockheed. They had no proof of this at all

Frogman

July 21st, 2009
2:19 pm

The AF has flown the F-22 at Tyndall AFB for over 4 years and its been fine in the rain. Do some real research please.

Jack

July 21st, 2009
2:21 pm

Jay

the B-1 and B-2 were used in both Afgan and Iraq.. Frog is right, please do some research