Monday, January 31, 2011

Rep. Tom Rooney: A Common Sense Approach to Trimming the Defense Budget

Rep. Tom Rooney (R-FL) is out with a letter to his colleagues, urging them to support cancellation of the wasteful extra engine for the Joint Strike Fighter.

*A Common Sense Approach to Trimming the Defense Budget*
From: The Honorable Thomas J. Rooney
Date: 1/28/2011
*Oppose Funding for the "Extra" Engine*

Dear Colleague:

At a time when our country is facing a projected $1.5 trillion deficit, it is extremely critical that we spend every taxpayer dollar wisely. In the area of defense spending, a dollar wasted is a dollar that we will not have for vital equipment to keep our country and troops safe. Unfortunately, Congressional earmarks in the Pentagon’s budget have led to wasted money and unnecessary, duplicative programs.

For example our next generation fighter jet, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is currently in production, and will replace many of our military’s aging aircraft. The F-35 has proven successful during flight testing with its current engine, yet Congress continues to earmark funding for a second, “alternate” engine in the defense budget year after year.

General Electric/Rolls Royce claims that with an additional $1.8 billion they will be able to field the extra engine for the F-35; the trouble is we have heard this before. In 2008 GE spokesperson Rick Kennedy stated: “…$1.1 billion still needed in U.S. funding to deliver a fully competitive unit.” Three years of defense dollars has gotten us no closer to a working engine and GE/Rolls Royce continues to ask for more earmarked spending.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has repeatedly stated that he is opposed to the development of a second engine for the F-35. U. S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Mark Shackelford and Maj. Gen. Johnny Weida said the alternate engine is “…unnecessary, too costly, and risks diverting resources from production.” Marine Corps Brig. Gen. David Heinz stated that funding the alternate engine project would “take 50 to 80 tails out of the program.”

Spending billions on a duplicative program does not efficiently utilize our defense budget to best serve our men and women in uniform. The extra engine will not make our country any safer, but instead will take limited resources away from our troops.

I plan to oppose continued funding for this wasteful program, and I urge my colleagues to join me in calling for the program’s elimination.


Thomas J. Rooney
Member of Congress

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