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The significance of the F-22 vote

Council for a Livable World

By John Isaacs

The Senate today voted 58 – 40 to approve a Levin (D-MI) – McCain (R-AZ) amendment to eliminate the $1.75 billion the Senate Armed Services Committee added for the F-22 aircraft.

The vote was significant because if those supporting more aircraft had prevailed despite the fact that the plane has no utility in Iraq or Afghanistan, is egregiously expensive and is strenuously opposed by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and threatened by a veto from the President, the vote would have been widely interpreted by the media as a crushing defeat for the Obama Administration.

The Administration is already facing great challenges over the still faltering economy and difficult bills dealing with the health care bill and climate change.

The vote was also significant because it provided an opportunity for the Defense Department and Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin to rev up their vote counting operation. They set up procedures to count noses, persuade the undecideds and win over those who started out supporting the F-22.

This vote counting operation, with Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, will be vital when the Senate gets to later votes on a START follow-on treaty and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

The Administration has already proved adept at winning close Senate votes on the economic stimulus package and the children’s health care bill. Now it has proved adopt in the first significant national security test in the Senate.

The F-22 battle is a long way from over. The House has approved funds and the appropriators look sympathetic to the F-22.

But this victory is important both for the Obama Administration and those interested in winning Senate approval for arms control treaties.



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