May 20th, 2010
07:02 PM ET
13 years ago

Gates says veto defense spending bill if unwanted projects remain

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption ="Robert Gates is trying to rein in some big-ticket contracts and has told Congress to stop spending money on projects like the C-17 transport plane pictured here."]Washington (CNN) - U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says he will urge President Barack Obama to veto a coming $726 billion defense authorization bill if it contains funding for unwanted projects Gates has been trying to cut for years.

Gates has been vocal about financial reform at the Pentagon, trying to rein in some big-ticket contracts and telling Congress to stop spending money on C-17 transport planes that are not needed and a $485 million alternate engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). The JSF engine program - already delayed and over budget - could end up costing taxpayers billions of dollars, according to Gates.

But with jobs at stake, Congress has ignored those requests for years and continued to appropriate funds for the C-17 and a second F-35 engine.

"The detailed conditions they [Congress] have imposed on the overall JSF program would make it essentially un-executable and impose unacceptable schedule and budget costs," Gates said Thursday at a Pentagon briefing.

"As I have stated repeatedly, should the Congress insist on adding funding for a costly and unnecessary JSF extra engine or direct changes that seriously disrupt the JSF program, or impose additional C-17 aircraft, I will strongly recommend that the president veto such legislation," he said.

The Pentagon believes the proposal for the new engine, made by General Electric, would end up costing about $2.9 billion which includes re-working the engine already being tested because there is concern it does not meet the performance needs for the F-35. Those costs would be picked up by taxpayer dollars, according to Pentagon estimates.

Additionally the contract for the new proposal by Congress would requires cutting the purchase of the current engine by half to let the General Electric engine purchase catch up, according to Gates.

"Only in Washington does a proposal where everybody wins get considered a competition, where everybody is guaranteed a piece of the action at the end," Gates said.

"Yes, we're in favor of competition, but my idea of competition is winner takes all, and we don't have that kind of a situation here," he continued.

The House Armed Services Committee passed the bill Wednesday. The bill must be approved by the entire House then matched by a Senate version and signed by Obama before becoming law.

Filed under: Department of Defense • Pentagon • Popular Posts • Robert Gates
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. Susie

    Yes, yes, yes! get rid of these pork projects that benefit no one but the lobbyists. Then start on the pork-laden farm subsidies that go to the huge corporate businesses and pay people NOT to farm. This is change I can believe in!

    May 20, 2010 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  2. Jay

    All I have to say regarding Defense is Ron Paul.

    Problem would be solved immediately.

    May 20, 2010 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  3. Brent

    And President Eisenhower continues to roll in his grave.

    May 20, 2010 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  4. GI Joe

    Take the money saved and create jobs for altenate energy. Plain and simple. A few folks might need to retrain, but better now than later.

    May 20, 2010 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  5. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    The contracts already paid for haven't ended or been completed and the same contractors are rewarded over and over again, like Halliburton/Cheney.

    May 20, 2010 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  6. Four and The Door

    As if Obama would veto anything the government is doing just to save the taxpayers money. Taxpayers have an endless supply of money. Gates obviously does not know how to present a winning argument to Obama. If he could put it in terms of how it could be a win for the unions or maybe for some other Democratic Party special interests, his chances of getting Obamas attention would be greatly improved!

    May 20, 2010 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  7. Jeff Clemetson of San Diego

    Gates in the best SOD ever. This proves that he isn't like so many of his predecessors who have bilked taxpayers for billions on hammers and toilet seats through shady defense contracts.

    May 20, 2010 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  8. Frank in valparaiso indiana

    The C-17 is a good airplane, but when it was being flight tested decades ago, it was a cash cow. Everybody put their excess personnel on the McDonnell payroll. McD went belly up soon after.

    Its time to cut the just congressional pork. The third leg of the military industrial complex was Congress. And the least useful part.

    May 20, 2010 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  9. chillin

    Another reason why we need to clean house in washington they just don't get it when it comes to fiscal responsibility they spend money just for the sake of spending it. Out with the old incumbent's they have got the since to stop throwing good money after bad projects.(RON PAUL 2012)

    May 20, 2010 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  10. Marlene

    Once again Sec. Gates shows real leadership. While House members worry about getting re-elected and pass a defense bill that includes unnecessary and unwanted programs, Sec. Gates provides the leadership that House members don't have the courage to eliminate. House members that took the easy road so they could boast that they tried – should be shown the door at election time. Marlene in Mich

    May 20, 2010 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  11. key

    When the DNC tried to cut defense spending the right Called them weak on terrorism un American. I really want to know what is a fiscal conservative and what is just irresponsible.

    May 20, 2010 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  12. James Ruston

    Good for Gates.

    May 20, 2010 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  13. Chuck Anaheim, Ca

    Yeah you workers can't have decent healthcare because we need to keep the corporate wellfare rollin to those comapnies that pay for our elections.

    May 20, 2010 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  14. Kevin Cantu

    700+Billion dollars for one fiscal year? Wow and remind me again as to how much that Health Care Reform bill was going to cost over 10 years? Wasn't it like 900 billion close to 1 Trillion??? REALLY? I guess when it comes to the DoD budget it's a totally different animal compared to Health Care Reform...Hope to hear form the Tea Party about this wasteful, out of control, government spending programs put forth by the Department of Defense??? Doubt it!!!

    May 20, 2010 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  15. Victim of GOP Taliban

    Good job...but still far too much corruption and cronyism persists in the military-indusrial complex. We need more competition. Why does one company dominate all jet engine production?

    If the engines don't meet spec's than don't buy them in the first place!

    May 20, 2010 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  16. richard

    sec. gates is the best member of this cabinet. i'll hate to see him go , he has pulled back the curtain on this pentagon's history of wasteful and backdoor spending. i remember when i was 12 now iam 56 and this branch of the GOV'T was spending a 1,000 dollars a pc. on a hammer....... they [ pentagon "good fellows" ] are just dividing the money amongst themselves. its like the MOB..... SEC .GATES- mr. president is saying that these folks pockets are full enough. greed is not good when you are breaking the backs of the american people and running this economy in the ground w/ your fraud pentagon as w/ NASA .........its just in your face robbery.

    May 20, 2010 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  17. guy from NM

    Sure that would happen!! The day they will veto a defense/pentagon bill is the day I start to believe in santa claus

    May 20, 2010 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  18. Carl Justus

    I agree with Gates, we should quit spending money on equipment that is not used or want work or does not serve the purpose of the military.

    We have congress people who want and want and want just so they can spend money in their state.

    They should think what is useful and then bring the money home to buy what is needed. There are things we can spend money on besides unneeded military equipment of equipment that has never been proven to work properly even though we keep spending billions of dollars on it.

    We have health care, social secuity, medicare, medicaid, highways, parks and all sorts of other infrastructure that needs to be fix and upgraded.

    May 20, 2010 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |

    Get rid of worthless GATES. That would be a start on saving for the economy. No high salary for a do-nothing piece of work.

    May 20, 2010 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  20. Willy Brown

    Gates all you do is lick Barry's boots.

    May 20, 2010 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  21. Pragmatic

    This really can put you between a rock (money wasted on things the military doesn't want) and a hard place (jobs, jobs, jobs)

    The New Presidential Helicopters ordered by Bush was used as a Christmas Tree by the Navy ... who mandated every new gadget ever invented, driving the cost up with their change orders. When the program was canceled, a small upstate town in NY was devastated.

    No easy "right" answer: depends on whose ox is getting slaughtered.

    May 20, 2010 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  22. barry

    good going mr gates now lets get out of these 2 wars and bring the money back home to care for our sick, children and stimulate the economy to reverse this unemployment trend...put america back to work...

    May 20, 2010 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |