Gates' Pentagon Budget Overhaul Hits Heavy Resistance

Congressmen fly to defend pet weapons
By Gabriel Winant,  Newser User
Posted Apr 7, 2009 12:28 PM CDT
In this June 11, 2008 file photo, Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey talks about a Future Combat Systems vehicle, a program targeted by Gates for cuts.   (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari, file)
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(Newser) – Defense Secretary Robert Gates talked tough yesterday in proposing to cut six major weapons systems from the Pentagon budget, and members of Congress wasted no time in talking tough right back, suggesting that the battle to refocus spending could meet major resistance. “This budget represents an opportunity, one of those rare chances to match virtue to necessity, to critically and ruthlessly separate appetites from real requirements,” Gates said. Sen. Saxby Chambliss shot back, “Simply put, this decision is imprudent.”

Gates' unprecedented call for cuts includes weapons systems—among them missile programs, helicopters, fighter jets, and a communications satellite—popular among elected officials for whom they represent jobs back home. In particular, Alaska’s delegation isn’t pleased with the missile defense cut, and Georgians like Chambliss are unhappy about the F-22, which is made in Georgia. All in all, writes Politico, the stage is set for a long, drawn-out dogfight with the administration and the Pentagon on one side, and lawmakers and defense contractors on the other.