Letter To The Honorable Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense

By:  John Larson Joe Lieberman
Date: March 24, 2011
Location: Washington, DC

Senator Joseph I. Lieberman (ID-CT) and Congressman John Larson (CT-01) today applauded the Department of Defense's decision to stop work on the F136 alternate engine, a duplicative, wasteful program that our military does not want or need.

"The termination of the alternate engine program is an essential step toward focusing our scarce defense dollars on the programs that will actually help keep America safer," Lieberman said. "As American service members fight to defend our freedoms and safeguard human life across the world, I hope that today's decision will allow Congress to set this long-debated matter aside and move on to the critical business of the American people."

"I applaud Secretary Gates for following through on his commitment to end the Joint Strike Fighter's duplicative "extra' engine program," Congressman Larson said. "This program is the epitome of government waste, one that the Secretary himself referred to as an "unnecessary and extravagant expense.' Today's decision will save the American people nearly a million dollars a day and bring to close an issue that has been debated in Congress for more than 4 years. I hope that my colleagues will now join me in focusing our attention on more pressing national security matters.

The Defense Department's action comes after Congress has repeatedly voted in support of efforts by the President, the Secretary of Defense, and senior military leaders to end the duplicative program to develop an extra engine for the Joint Strike Fighter. In 2009, the U.S. Senate unanimously adopted an amendment introduced by Lieberman to prevent additional funding for the F136 engine. Last month, the House overwhelmingly voted to terminate the alternate engine, as well.

With the release of the fiscal year 2012 Defense budget, Secretary Gates said he would "look at all available legal options to close down [the Alternate Engine program]" if Congress failed to adopt a funding bill for the remainder of fiscal year 2011. On March 8, Lieberman and Larson (D-CT) sent a letter to Secretary Gates urging him to act on his authority to immediately terminate the program, which has cost American taxpayers almost a million dollars per day this year and would cost an additional $3 billion to complete development.

March 2, 2011

The Honorable Robert Gates
Secretary of Defense
The Pentagon
Washington, D.C. 20301

Dear Secretary Gates,

We write in strong support of your continued effort to end the F136 Alternate Engine program for the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). As you have said throughout your tenure with the Department of Defense, this program represents "an unnecessary and extravagant expense" that must be eliminated if we are to properly fund our nation's warfighters. We couldn't agree more, and it is with this sentiment that we respectfully request that you to take the necessary action to end this program at the conclusion of the current continuing resolution.

As you know, in 2009 during debate on the FY10 National Defense Authorization Act, the Senate voted 59-38 in opposition to adding funding for the JSF Alternate Engine program. Subsequent to this vote, the Senate has not included funds for the extra engine in either the defense authorization or appropriations bills. In fact, on February 18, 2011, Senator Carl Levin, the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee stated in reference to funding the Alternate Engine program, that he, "doubt[s] very much [the Senate] will do it this year."

The comments by Chairman Levin came just days after action by the House of Representatives to terminate the alternate Engine program. On February 16, 2011, the House approved by a vote of 233-198 an amendment offered by Representative Tom Rooney that struck all funding for the Alternate Engine program from the proposed Department of Defense Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2011. This action puts the House on the record as opposing all funding for the Alternate Engine program through the remainder of fiscal year 2011, and should provide you with the flexibility to terminate funding for the program at the end of the current continuing resolution.

With the release of the fiscal year 2012 Defense budget you stated, "I will look at all available legal options to close down [the Alternate Engine program]." We appreciate your strong position on this matter and hope that later this week you will be allowed to follow through on your commitment to end the program. The House and Senate have both spoken on this matter. It is time that we stop wasting nearly $1 million per day to continue a program that will surely be terminated.

Thank you again for the continued leadership you provide our nation's Armed Forces. We look forward to your prompt response on this matter.

Sincerely,

Jon E. Larson
United States Representative

Joseph I. Lieberman
United States Senator