From THINK PROGRESS:
Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) likes to tout his opposition to earmarks. Indeed, since first entering Congress in 1991, the congressman has never requested a single earmark. And one of his caucus’s first moves in the new Congress has been to renew a voluntary earmark ban in the House of Representatives, making good on a major campaign promise. Yet as CAP [Center for American Progress] Senior Fellow Scott Lilly reveals in a new analysis, “No, He Wouldn’t—Would He?,” Boehner and House Republicans appear to have included an earmark-in-all-but-name for the new Speaker’s district in the newly released House Appropriations Continuing Resolution (CR).
The CR includes massive cuts to important programs like Head Start and LIHEAP [Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program], but one thing it doesn’t cut is $450 million stashed away for the construction of a Joint Strike Fighter engine the Pentagon doesn’t even want.
Lilly finds that a “big portion of the funds” will go to Cincinnati, Ohio (where Boehner grew up) and Dayton, Ohio (the “largest city in his congressional district”). Pointing out that the money will go General Electric and Rolls Royce Group plants that fall within these cities, Lilly concludes that the money “looks, feels, and smells very much like an earmark“ […]
From The Boston Globe:
WASHINGTON — Tea Party freshmen in Congress are siding with President Obama and gunning to eliminate $225 million from a House budget for General Electric’s backup engine for the Joint Strike Fighter program, a key test of Republican pledges to purge waste and earmarks.
The GE alternative — which would be built separately from a Pratt & Whitney engine, the future F-35 jet’s primary engine — has remained in development despite the opposition of Obama and the Pentagon.
Obama has epitomized the engine as wasteful defense spending, again eliminating it from the budget he unveiled yesterday. That puts him in league with fiscally conservative House members backed by the Tea Party movement who, in defiance of GOP House leadership, want to kill the project.
Newly elected conservatives such as Representative Allen West of Florida, a 22-year Army veteran and member of the House Armed Services Committee, are leading the charge.
Representative Thomas J. Rooney, a Florida Republican whose district adjoins West’s and has numerous constituents who work for Pratt & Whitney, wrote to fellow House members saying he will try to strip the funding, and asked for their support.
A temporary budget measure funding the engine, which GE Aviation wants to build with Rolls-Royce, expires March 4. GE and Pratt & Whitney, which wants to kill the GE funding, have blanketed Washington publications with full-page ads in an escalating lobbying war.
Representative John F. Tierney, a Salem Democrat whose district includes Lynn, said it would be a knee-jerk reaction to cut the program. Tierney, citing the prime argument for developing two engines for the jet, said the prospect of long-term savings from competition should win over new Republicans.
Fiscal arguments are hardly the only factor in play. Parochial interests over jobs are part of the equation. Pratt & Whitney has a campus in West’s district, while GE Aviation has plants in Boehner’s district, as well as in Lynn.
Republicans have typically been reluctant to cut defense spending. That is changing.
“Every dollar and cent in the federal budget is on the table. That includes the Pentagon,’’ majority leader Eric Cantor said.
A few GOP freshmen support the GE engine. Frank Guinta, a New Hampshire Republican elected with help from Tea Party activists, said he was a “strong supporter’’ of GE’s engine because of the jobs in his district.
One vote it will not receive is that of Representative Barney Frank’s. While the Newton Democrat has voted for the engine in the past out of loyalty to fellow delegation members, he will not this year. “I don’t want to just cut the second engine, I want to cut the whole plane,’’ he said.