This was a vote on a motion made by Rep. Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) to send the fiscal year 2010 funding bill for the Departments of Defense back to the Appropriations Committee. The motion also included instructions to the committee to add money for procurement of 12 additional F-22 fighters and to allow the F-22 program to move forward. In addition, the instructions were for the committee to provide an additional $100 million for the Army military personnel accounts, and to reduce $400 million for Presidential helicopters to pay for the increases.
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. President Obama had threatened to veto the 2010 Defense Department spending bill if Congress passed it with funds for additional F-22’s. Shortly before House debate began on H.R. 3266 in the House, the Senate voted not to approve the purchase of any additional F-22’s.
Frelinghuysen, in support of his motion, first noted that “much is made of the President's threatened veto of this bill over the F-22 . . . . While I appreciate the President has a role in this process, it is Congress, not the President, that has the power of the purse. I do not believe that we should simply take the President's budget proposal (which excluded additional purchases of F-22’s) and rubber-stamp it.”
Referring to the part of his motion that would provide an additional $100 million for the Army military personnel accounts, Frelinghuysen said this “begins to fill a known funding shortfall . . . that resulted from (Defense) Secretary Gates' recent decision to increase the total Army end strength by 22,000 troops to support the administration's Afghanistan policy.”
Rep. Murtha (D-PA), the chairman of the Appropriations Committee subcommittee that developed H.R. 3326, opposed the motion, although he supported additional F-22 purchases. Murtha had noted earlier in the debate on the Defense Department funding bill that President Obama had said he would veto the measure if it provided for the purchase of additional F’22’s, and that the 2/3 votes required to override a veto would not be forthcoming in either the House or the Senate. He said “I have been for the F-22. The point is we'd need 292 votes here in order to pass the F-22. We'd need 66 votes in the Senate. The Senate voted 58-40 against it. So we have no alternative (than to drop funding for additional F-22 purchases).” Murtha also noted that, earlier in the debate, he successfully offered an amendment that provided additional maintenance funding for previously purchased F-22’s.
The Frelinghuysen motion intended to fund additional F-22’s was defeated by a vote of 169-261. One hundred and fifty-four Republicans and fifteen Democrats voted “aye”. Two hundred and thirty-nine Democrats and twenty-two Republicans voted “nay”. As a result, the bill was not sent back to committee for the purpose of restoring funds for additional F-22 purchases, and the House moved to immediate passage of the bill providing fiscal year 2010 funding for the Department of Defense.