Obama threatens veto if F-22 funded

In an unusual move, President Obama sent a letter to the leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee vowing to veto any defense bill that funds more Lockheed Martin F-22 fighter jets.

Obama threw down the gauntlet as the Senate took up the 2010 defense authorization bill. The firm commitment to veto any defense bill containing funding for the F-22 puts Obama in a tough position: he would veto bills written by a Democratic Congress.

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The letter to Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) comes as the two senators introduced an amendment to strip $1.75 billion for seven additional F-22s from the Pentagon policy bill.

“...I will veto any bill that supports acquisition of F-22s beyond the 187 already funded by Congress,” Obama wrote on Monday. The Obama administration wants to cap the F-22 fleet at 187 aircraft.

The Senate could face a close vote on whether to strip the money from the defense authorization bill. Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) won narrow support for an amendment to authorize funds for more F-22s when the Armed Services Committee marked up the bill last month. Levin and McCain opposed it at the time.