Many conservative House Republicans bolted from House Speaker John Boehner late Wednesday by voting to cut $450 million in funding for an alternative strike-fighter engine, but three Minnesota Republicans supported keeping the second engine.
Freshman Rep. Chip Cravaack, Rep. John Kline and Rep. Michele Bachmann all voted against killing the backup engine for the F-35 joint strike fighter. An amendment to gut funding for the engine passed in the House’s budget resolution 233-198, with 110 Republicans in favor and 130 opposed.
GOP Rep. Erik Paulsen joined the state’s four Democrats in the House voting in favor of cutting the second engine, which would be built by GE and Rolls Royce.
While President Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates say the alternative engine isn't needed and would waste $3 billion, Republicans who voted to keep the program argued that the engine would actually save money in the long run.
“The Government Accountability Office twice concluded that competing Joint Strike Fighter engines could save taxpayers $21 billion, based on the experience of competing engines for the JSF’s predecessor, the F-16,” Bachmann spokesman Doug Sachtleben said in an e-mail.
Cravaack said he his own experience as a Navy Veteran and pilot factored in his decision to support the second engine. “If you have a sole provider,” Cravaack said, “what you see is the cost of it goes up exponentially.”
Cravaack said that by having two engines, it keeps the cost of maintenance and parts down because there's competition.
“To me it’s a little different in making sure our war-fighters have the best capable engine platform available to them, so they can go out and do their mission,” Cravaack said.