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Democrats to Wrestle With Rifts Over Defense Bill

“We can’t afford to keep funding many of these programs,” said Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass), who’s expected to propose an amendment to cut some of those weapons. “The Pentagon budget is bloated, and we must do something about it soon.”

The Obama administration has not raised significant opposition over more spending for F-18s or C-17s, but it has stated the presidential helicopter is an example of “dysfunctional” Pentagon procurement.

The House is also likely to continue the ongoing debate over future production of the Air Force’s F-22 fighter jet. The White House has called for ending production of the plane, but lawmakers from the 44 states where the plane is built have called for continuing it.

The House spending bill contains several hundred million dollars for building the Lockheed Martin aircraft. But Murtha said he would propose eliminating all funding for the aircraft, after the Senate voted to end production last week as it debated the fiscal 2010 Defense authorization bill.

“The F-22 debate is pretty much over,” said Murtha, who added that he still doubts White House threats that it would veto the bill if it contained funds for the plane.

However, House Republican supporters of the F-22 are not ready to back down. Armed Services ranking member Howard McKeon (R-Calif.) said, “I think most people would agree this is driven by budgetary constraints, not by our military strategy for what is needed.”

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