This was a vote on an amendment redirecting some of the funds originally designated for the purchase of additional F-22 fighter planes to the acquisition of spare parts and engines for existing F-22s, and making certain other changes, in the bill providing fiscal year 2010 funding for the Department of Defense. Among the other changes made by this amendment, which was offered by Rep. Murtha (D-PA), the chairman of the Appropriations Committee subcommittee that developed the funding bill, was the addition of $79,000,000 for Air National Guard equipment and of $50,000,000 for advanced radar development.
The issue of whether additional F-22’s would be purchased had become very controversial. The Defense Department did not want to buy any more; but a number of congressman and senators, especially those from districts and states that produced the plane, wanted the department to purchase additional fighters at a total cost of $1.75 billion. Shortly before debate began on this Defense Department spending bill in the House, the Senate voted not to approve the purchase of any additional F-22’s. This amendment was based on the fact that no additional ones would be bought. It still provided for an additional $369 million for the purchase of spare parts and engines for the 187 existing F-22’s.
Rep. Murtha’s statement in support of the amendment began with him saying “what I've done is say if we're not going to have (more) F-22’s, let's at least fund the original 187 airplanes at the fullest robust level.” He noted that a disagreement over how to proceed with the F-22 was the only difference that he had with the Republicans on the subcommittee over the terms of the amendment.
Rep. Young (R-FL), the Ranking Republican on the Appropriations Committee subcommittee that developed H.R. 3326, argued that “187 (F-22’s) just doesn't guarantee that we will have what we need . . . if we need them and don't have them, where are we and where is the soldier on the ground? If we need them and don't have them, somebody else's airplane may be over that battlefield.” Young said “it would have been better if we could have had a straight up-or-down vote on the F-22 (additional purchase) issue . . . So I will vote against this amendment . . . .”
Murtha agreed with Young that it would have been better if additional F-22’s had been purchased. However, Murtha noted that President Obama had said he would veto the Defense Department spending bill if it provided for the purchase of additional F’22’s, and the 2/3 votes required to override that veto would not be forthcoming in either the House or the Senate.
The amendment passed by a vote of 249-180. Two hundred and forty-three Democrats and six Republicans voted “aye”. One hundred seventy Republicans and ten Democrats voted “nay”. As a result, funds for the purchase of additional F-22 fighter planes were removed from the bill providing fiscal year 2010 funding for the Department of Defense and redirected to the purchase of spare parts and engines for existing F-22s, Air National Guard equipment, advanced radar development, and other purposes.