Rep. Tom Rooney (bottom right) will be facing off against senior members of the Armed Services Committee as he attempts to cut funding for an alternate fighter engine.
GE has also brought in managers from more than a dozen of its aviation manufacturing plants around the country. They plan to be on the Hill all this week, GE Aviation spokesman Rick Kennedy said.
“They have converged on Washington,” he said. “They have reached out and met every single new Member of Congress and Senator. Those guys are good at explaining how you save money by competing the engines. We say if we can’t more than pay for ourselves, we’ll go home.”
Kennedy added that part of the reason the stakes are so high is because the new F-35 is slated to replace about 90 percent of the country’s single-engine fighter planes.
“Emotions run high on this,” said one lobbyist involved in the fight on Pratt’s side. “It really gets people’s blood boiling.”
Rooney, a former prosecutor, said the alternate engine debate often triggers passion, but he pledged to stay calm.
“I’m not trying to be combative,” he said. “Once you lose your cool, then you’ve lost your argument.”