Chambliss goes into battle for Pentagon's request for F-22A

Saxby ChamblissSaxby ChamblissGOP hopefuls crowd Georgia special race Democrats go for broke in race for Tom Price's seat Spicer: Trump will 'help the team' if needed in Georgia special election MORE is going against the grain.

The Georgia Republican senator, a member of the Armed Services Committee, introduced an amendment Thursday to reverse a committee decision and restore the Pentagon’s request for multiyear procurement of the F-22A Raptor.

When the panel marked up the 2007 defense authorization bill, it included a provision prohibiting the Air Force from entering a multiyear arrangement for the aircraft or paying incrementally for the fighter jets.

As part of its budget request, the Air Force wanted to begin procurement for 60 F-22A aircraft over a three-year period starting in 2008 to keep the production lines open beyond 2010. The service only included a $2 billion request for parts necessary for building the planes in coming years and no money to buy the actual aircraft in fiscal year 2007.

But the panel’s Airland Subcommittee, chaired by Sen. John McCainJohn McCainArmed Services chairman unveils .1B Asia-Pacific security bill Overnight Defense: Trump scolds NATO allies over spending | Flurry of leaks worries allies | Senators rip B Army 'debacle' | Lawmakers demand hearing on Saudi arms deal The case for protecting America's intelligence agency whistleblowers MORE (R-Ariz.), decided to fund an additional $1.4 billion for procurement of 20 Raptors in 2007 and to prohibit both incremental funding and multiyear procurement. Sen. John Warner (R-Va.), chairman of the full committee, agreed with the subcommittee’s plan when his panel marked up the bill.

But now Chambliss, who represents the state where Lockheed Martin is building the fighter jet, is trying to reverse that decision and gain support for the multiyear procurement idea. And he has Lockheed Martin on his side. Lockheed’s in-house lobbying shop sent an e-mail Thursday afternoon to all Senate offices urging a yes vote for the amendment.

The practice is common among industry lobbyists. Senators can introduce amendments at any time without needing to go through a Rules Committee process, unlike House members. If lobbyists know that the amendment will be submitted they start trying to garner support among Senate offices.

The Lockheed e-mail included Chambliss’s amendment as well as several issue papers backing the idea of multiyear procurement.

The amendment has eight original co-sponsors: Sens. Orrin HatchOrrin HatchGOP leaders launch internal review into leak Insurers: GOP should keep pre-existing condition protections DOJ pitches agreements to solve international data warrant woes MORE (R-Utah); Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonCongress introduces legislation to reverse Obama’s big labor agenda Overnight Regulation: Appeals court upholds injunction on Trump travel ban | GOP bill would scrap 'micro-unions' Republicans introduce bill to scrap 'micro-unions' MORE (R-Ga.); James InhofeJames InhofeTop GOP senators tell Trump to ditch Paris climate deal GOP frustrated by slow pace of Trump staffing GOP skeptical of Trump plan for paid parental leave MORE (R-Okla.), a member of Armed Services, Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.); John CornynJohn CornynRepublicans go to battle over pre-existing conditions Senate panel could pass new Russia sanctions this summer Senate staff to draft health bill during recess MORE (R-Texas); John ThuneJohn ThuneCongress must address student loan debt crisis, a national economic drag Republicans go to battle over pre-existing conditions GOP frustrated by slow pace of Trump staffing MORE (R-S.D.); Robert Bennett (R-Utah); and Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), the powerful chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.

Stevens’s panel has not marked up the 2007 bill, but his support for the amendment could indicate that he approves of the plan for multiyear procurement.
Others co-sponsoring the amendment include Sens. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Max BaucusMax BaucusLawmakers: Leave advertising tax break alone GOP: FBI firing won't slow agenda White House tax-reform push is ‘game changer,’ says ex-chairman MORE (D-Mont.), Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), Susan CollinsSusan CollinsSenate takes lead on Trump’s infrastructure proposal Navy leaders defend Trump's lackluster ship budget Overnight Healthcare: CBO fallout | GOP senators distance themselves from House bill | Trump budget chief blasts score | Schumer says House bill belongs 'in the trash' MORE (R-Maine), Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), Dianne FeinsteinDianne FeinsteinThe case for protecting America's intelligence agency whistleblowers Senate confirms Trump's first lower-court nominee Feinstein: Comey memos 'going to be turned over' MORE (D-Calif.) and Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), a senior appropriator. While Georgia has a significant stake in the F-22, the production of the aircraft spans multiple states across the country.

Supporters of the amendment argue that it would save the government at least $250 million by producing the next 60 aircraft over several years rather than buying 20 aircraft each year.

The Pentagon also commissioned the independent Institute of Defense Analyses (IDA) to study whether the F-22, a costly and drawn-out program, qualifies for a multiyear procurement strategy. After both the House and the Senate Armed Services committees marked up the bill opposing the Pentagon’s request and adding $1.4 billion for 20 aircraft in 2007, the IDA concluded that the F-22 is a good candidate for such a strategy.

But Chambliss’s amendment does not jibe with congressional research and the opinion of a government watchdog.

In a report published earlier this spring, the Congressional Research Service said multiyear procurement will not save money but may avoid cost increases. The Government Accountability Office said the unit cost to procure the remaining Raptors increased 8 percent when comparing the fiscal year 2007 budget, using multiyear procurement, to the 2006 budget without multiyear procurement.

The 2006 budget also terminated the procurement of the F-22 in 2008, said the GAO, but the inefficiencies connected to extending the production through 2010 will add more than $1 billion to the budget.

At press time, Chambliss’s office expected the amendment to be debated today.