This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) that would have cut $297 million from research and development on a new military bomber plane. This amendment was offered to legislation providing annual funding for Defense Department programs.
Welch urged support for his amendment: “Now, the question is, it [the new bomber plane] may be desirable but is it affordable when we have this horrendous budget squeeze that we know is dividing this Congress because we have to make some very tough choices in the future. The second question that comes up is whether something that may be desirable comes at a cost that is unacceptable. Now, the Defense budget is large, unnecessarily so; but it is the one item of spending that has been exempt from cuts…. The third question is if it's necessary, is there some burden on those who have the responsibility of overseeing taxpayer dollars in the Defense budget to poke around and find that $300 million somewhere else in a nearly $700 billion budget? So those are the questions. It's not a direct assertion that we must suspend forever research on the next generation of bombers, but it is asking those questions in this time: Just because something is desirable, does that make it affordable?”
Rep. Bill Young (R-FL) opposed Welch’s amendment: “I have suggested so many times that I would not do anything, produce any bill or support any bill, that negatively affects our soldiers or that negatively our affects readiness.
Well, this bomber is a long time from production because it takes time to develop a new bomber due to the nature of that vehicle. But by the time it gets online, we are going to need the new bomber because the old bombers are going to be old.”
Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA) also opposed this amendment: “This is a very high priority of the Air Force. I mean, next to tankers, the replacement of the bomber and along with the Joint Strike Fighter, are going to be the top priorities for the Air Force. So this would be a catastrophic blow to terminate this program.”
The House rejected Welch’s amendment by a vote of 98-322. Voting “yea” were 81 Democrats—including a majority of progressives—and 17 Republicans. 217 Republicans and 105 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the House rejected an amendment that would have cut $297 million from research and development on a new military bomber plane.