Defense contractors’ multi-million dollar one-two punch to save F-22

The Senate today delayed until probably tomorrow the vote on an amendment from Sens. Carl Levin (D-MI) and John McCain (R-AZ) to cut funding for the F-22 fighter jet.

It shouldn’t be a tough vote. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the 187 F-22s now in the Air Force fleet or in production are sufficient to combat current and future threats and more are not needed. McCain and Levin agree, and so does President Obama.



But producers Boeing and Lockheed Martin are not giving up. The defense giants have thrown the one-two punch, giving nearly $1.4 million in campaign contributions to 50 senators and spending nearly $9 million in lobbying Congress since Jan. 1, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics. So far, the two companies have chalked up successes with all that spending. Congress recently passed a separate supplemental spending bill for conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan that included an additional $600 million for the procurement of four new F-22 fighters and barred the use of those funds to shut-down the F-22 production line, as the Obama Administration had wanted.

It’s not surprising. Lockheed and Boeing are practicing the time-honored Washington tradition of spending big to influence and buy access to protect their bottom lines. Until we get defense contractors and other special interests out of the business of paying for congressional campaigns, we’ll be making jets we don’t need and spending billions of taxpayer dollars that could be better used for other critical needs like education and health care.

Read Common Cause’s report on spending by Boeing and Lockheed Martin.