As noted by commenter Mike A, this story offers insight into the difference between the 111th and 112th Congress. Hopefully this is a preview of what we can expect from our new Tea Party infused House of Representatives in the upcoming budget battles.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Determined to reduce deficits, impatient House Republican freshmen made common cause with President Barack Obama on Wednesday, scoring their biggest victory to date in a vote to cancel $450 million for an alternative engine for the Pentagon’s next-generation warplane.
“Right here, right now was a surefire way to reduce spending,” declared Rep. Tom Rooney of Florida, a second-term lawmaker whose summons to cut money from the F-35 fighter jet was answered by 47 Republican newcomers…
Strictly by the numbers, the vote was a bipartisan one, with 110 Republicans and 123 Democrats supporting cancellation of the funds, while 68 Democrats and 130 Republicans wanted to leave them in place. But that breakdown obscured the change wrought by the voters last fall. A similar vote in May ended in defeat for opponents of the alternative engine.”
Let’s review. The alternate engine is a defense pork barrel project that will not die because it is supported by legislators determined to bring home the bacon to their respective district or state. It was opposed by Presidents Bush and Obama, as well as both of the their Secretaries of Defense as unneeded and a waste of taxpayer money. Nevertheless, Congress continued to allocate billions on an engine the military did not want or need.
Last May, with a Democratic President and large Democratic majorities in both the Senate and House, this project continued to be funded, passing in Nancy Pelosi’s House of Representatives by a vote of 231-193.
Last week, in the Republican controlled House of Representatives, with Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner supporting the continued funding of the unneeded engine, it was finally defeated. Credit to President Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates for reaching out to Republican legislators and the new crop of Tea Party supported freshmen Republican representatives who stood up to their own leadership.
Of course, this is still not over. The Democratic controlled Senate may yet restore the funding. Having demonstrated my difficulty identifying Senator party affiliation in a previous post, I’ll leave it to the reader to figure out where the problem in the Senate may lie:
Postscript: Some of you may remember Justin, who used to be a regular contributor here. He had some things to say about this very issue shortly after the election.
From his post:
“If Republicans are serious about tightening our belts, cutting the budget deficit and the overall deficit, then programs like this need to be shelved. Tea Partiers, I’m looking at you. Want to prove you’re more than just a marketing gimmick? Take a stand on issues like this.”
From his comments:
“If it is revealed that a wide swath of GOPers don’t agree with his assessment, I will write a post about that. Trust me, I would GLADLY write a post about that.”
I am considering offering him an opportunity to follow up with a guest post.