A vote on an amendment introduced by Sens. Carl Levin (D-MI) and John McCain (R-AZ) that would remove funding for Lockheed Martin F-22A purchases in the fiscal year 2010 defense authorization bill remains in limbo.
At the current time, no vote has been scheduled; however, reports indicate Senators could vote on the amendment at some point this evening. Right now the chamber is debating a separate hate crimes amendment.
The top Democrat and Republican members of the Senate Armed Services Committee introduced the amendment a week ago, but, the measure was withdrawn so lawmakers could debate the hate crimes amendment.
Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) -- whose constituently includes the Raptor final assembly facility -- inserted $1.75 billion into the FY-10 defense authorization bill to buy seven aircraft. Authorization and appropriations panels in the House also have included money for more F-22As in mark-ups of their respective FY-10 defense bills, despite a stern veto threat from the White House.
At the same time, a group of Democrats -- including Massachusetts Sens. Edward Kennedy and John Kerry -- have said they would support future F-22A purchases. Several of the Raptor's mission systems -- including its electronic warfare suite; communication, navigation and identification low-observable apertures; multi-spectral countermeasures; and stores management system -- are built by BAE Systems just across the Massachusetts border in Nashua, NH.
Today, Defense Secretary Robert Gates continued his argument against buying more F-22As, noting the Lockheed-run F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program will generate tens-of-thousands of jobs over the next two years.
“What I have not heard is a substantive reason for adding more aircraft in terms of our strategic needs,” Gates said during a briefing this afternoon at the Pentagon.