House defense appropriators OK more F-22 funds

President Obama's dogfight against the F-22 fighter jet just got more complicated, as House defense appropriators on Thursday decided to fund $369 million for parts to build 12 more Lockheed Martin radar-evading jets after 2010.

Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), the chairman of the House Appropriations Defense subcommittee, decided to fund $369 million for the advance procurement of parts to build 12 more F-22s. The amount is the same as is included in the 2010 defense authorization bill the House has already passed.

The full House Appropriations Committee still has to agree to the F-22 funds and ultimately the House will have to come to an agreement with Senate appropriators once they mark up the bill and the Senate passes its version of the 2010 Pentagon spending bill.

President Obama has personally vowed to veto any defense bill that includes more funds for the F-22. The administration wants to cap the F-22 fleet at 187 and did not request any money for 2010.

Murtha, in a briefing with reporters, acknowledged the veto promise and indicated that if the presidential veto is looming over the spending bill and Congress does not have the votes to override the veto and support more F-22s, "We'll back down on the damn thing."

But he said that he wanted to convince the White House to at least agree to advance procurement to keep spare parts producers and subcontractors alive to be able to provide materials in case there will be more F-22s.

The Senate, meanwhile, is headed for a showdown next week over the F-22s. Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) are fighting to strike $1.75 billion for seven more F-22s from the 2010 defense authorization bill now under debate on the Senate floor.