The call from Defense Secretary Robert Gates, asking Congress to stop spending money on programs the Pentagon doesn’t want or need, sounds like it’s resonating with one key member of Congress.
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin pointed out with regret the Defense Authorization Bill his committee has passed and sent to the Senate floor doesn’t include funding for a project he supports – the second engine for the Joint Strike Fighter.
President Obama has threatened to veto any bill containing funding for this or any other project the White House and Pentagon agree the Defense Department doesn’t need. But the House of Representatives voted late Friday to keep the money for the extra engine in their version of the bill. “We don’t want nor need the extra engine, but this is just one step in a long journey and Secretary Gates is committed to staying engaged in this process… including if necessary ultimately recommending President Obama veto this legislation,” Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said shortly after the House vote.
Lost on the debate over the JSF engine was Senator Levin’s declaration that the committee kept the military pay raise for 2011 at 1.4%.
Levin’s office says the bill “authorizes funding for the entire Department of Defense (DoD), including military construction, and the national security programs of the Department of Energy. It is one of the largest, most complex and most important bills to pass through the Congress each year because it authorizes the funds to ensure our military services remain the best-equipped and most capable force in the world.
“In addition to enhancing the military readiness of the United States, the Armed Services Committee’s work on this bill also emphasizes the all-important human elements of our national defense – the pay and benefits and quality of life of our service men and women and their families.”
Since he is Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Senator Levin will manage the debate of the bill on the Senate floor.
I played highlights of Senator Levin’s remarks after his committee’s markup vote; you can watch the entire event below.