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Letter to Robert M. Gates, United States Secretary of Defense

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Budget Measure to Maintain Funding for Joint Stike Fighter F136 through March

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today released a letter he sent to U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates regarding funding for the Joint Strike Fighter F136 competitive engine. After he intervened in December, Brown received confirmation from U.S. Office of Management and Budget Director Jacob Lew that the budget measure known as the Continuing Resolution, will maintain funding for the Joint Strike Fighter F136 competitive engine. Brown is now urging the Defense Department to carry out the intent of Congress by funding the competitive engine, which is being developed by General Electric (GE) in Evendale.

"GE Aviation workers in Evendale do the difficult job of creating a competitive alternate engine and we cannot afford to sit idly by and let the DOD ignore Congressional efforts to save taxpayer dollars and bolster national security," Brown said. "Every two seconds of every single day, a GE engine lifts a plane into the air. And today, the work Evendale employees do is as important as ever. As we rebuild our economy, we are renewing our focus on American manufacturing and national security."

A copy of Sen. Brown's letter to Secretary Gates can be found here.

"GE Aviation is deeply gratified by the diligent work of Sen. Brown in protecting the critically important F136 competitive engine for the Joint Strike Fighter. Ensuring competing JSF engines is vital to the country," President and CEO of GE Aviation David Joyce said after Brown received confirmation from OMB that it would continue to fund the program.

Brown sent a letter to OMB Director Lew in December seeking confirmation that the Administration would follow Congress' mandate for funding the competitive engine program under a Continuing Resolution. OMB responded that the Continuing Resolution, as drafted, would follow Congressional intent and continue the competitive engine program.

Last year, Brown helped secure $465 million in federal funds to support the creation of a competitive engine for the Joint Strike Fighter (F-35) propulsion system. In April 2010, Brown visited the GE Aviation facility in Evendale to address workers and get an update on the development of the Joint Strike Fighter F136 competitive engine.

The F-35 program will develop and deploy the fifth-generation strike fighter aircraft to meet the operational needs of the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and their allies. The F-35 employs cutting-edge technologies including synthetic aperture radar integration techniques, advanced target recognition, and advanced capabilities in its resistance to jamming, maintainability, and logistic support. This engine competition for the F-35 saves money and improves our national security.

GE makes the competitive engine with its partner Rolls-Royce and much of the testing will be done in Evendale. The engine program has created hundreds of jobs and could lead to many thousands depending on how many engines are produced. The Joint Strike Fighter is the largest weapon procurement program in history.

January 4, 2011

The Honorable Robert M. Gates
Secretary of Defense
The Pentagon
Room 3E880
Washington, DC 20301-1000

Dear Secretary Gates:

We write to you to express our deep concern over the future of the F136 alternate engine program for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. We have learned that the General Electric/Rolls Royce team responsible for the development of the alternate engine still has not received fiscal year 2011 funds from the Department of Defense. Fiscal year 2010 funds appropriated for the program will run out on Friday, January 7.

While we may have different opinions about the value of the alternate engine program, it was the clear intent of Congress to see that funding for the alternate engine program continues through March 4, 2011. The Director of the Office of Management and Budget concurred in this interpretation of the law in a letter he sent to Senator Sherrod Brown late last year.

We respect your leadership, and assume that the delay of releasing fiscal year 2011 funds is simply an issue of timing or an oversight by the program office rather than a deliberate attempt to shift appropriated funds away from the alternate engine. However, because of this program's significance, we would be remiss if we did not verify your intent. If the Defense Department is planning to ignore Congressional intent, we hope that this course will be reconsidered. Subverting the expressed will of the Congress would be a stunning act of bad faith. Such an act would constitute an unambiguous attack on the separation of powers that has been the hallmark of American democracy since the founding of the Republic.

We ask that you respond to this letter and apprise us as to whether you plan to fund the alternate engine as required under the Continuing Resolution, or whether you plan on taking another course of action. In addition, if you believe that Director Lew is incorrect and that you have the authority to bypass congressional intent, we ask that you apprise us of the basis of that belief.

We thank you for your dedicated service to this country. We appreciate your prompt attention to this letter and a response to its contents before fiscal year 2010 funds run out on Friday.

Sincerely,

PATRICK LEAHY
United States Senator
JOHN F. KERRY
United States Senator
SHERROD BROWN
United States Senator


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