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House votes to kill F-22 fighter jet in Pentagon budget

Left on the spending bill are projects the Defense secretary calls unneeded. It also contains funding that will push the cost of the Iraq and Afghan wars and related matters beyond $1 trillion.

July 31, 2009|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Democratic-controlled House went along with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates' plans to kill the over-budget F-22 fighter jet but has rejected his efforts to cut off several other big-ticket items.

Despite objections and veto threats from the White House, the $636-billion Pentagon spending bill -- passed by a 400-30 vote Thursday -- contains money for a much-criticized new presidential helicopter fleet, cargo jets that Gates says aren't needed, and an alternative engine for the next-generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter that the Pentagon says is a waste of money.

It also contains $128 billion for Pentagon operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, which would bring the total appropriated by Congress for those wars and efforts to combat terrorism above $1 trillion.

The bill rejects Obama's $100-million request for the Pentagon to close the U.S. military detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

It's the last of the 12 annual spending bills to come to the House floor. Democrats have met their goal of passing all 12 before Congress' August recess.

Even though the House is packed with Obama loyalists, the draw of defense industry jobs for weapons systems is strong even among the most liberal members. Typically, contractors and subcontractors are spread across the country to maximize support.

The items Gates seeks to kill would mean jobs in California, Georgia, Texas, Connecticut, New York, Indiana and Ohio.

The measure also contains money for nine unrequested F-18 Super Hornet fighter jets, assembled in St. Louis.

The Senate will deal with the spending measure in September.

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