Federal spending cuts: Joint Strike Fighter engine project likely to go

WASHINGTON -- A $450-million project to build an alternative engine for the Joint Strike Fighter would be eliminated as part of the 2011 spending-reduction package agreed to late last week to avert a government shutdown, according to sources familiar with the negotiations.

Congressional negotiators have been working around the clock to hash out the details of the $38-billion package agreed to by Congress and the White House late last week. Congress is expected to vote on the deal this week, before a temporary measure to keep the government running expires on Thursday.

Deciding which programs to cut remains in flux, but the White House has said that funds for Head Start preschools and the Pell Grant college loan program have been preserved. Cuts are being made to housing assistance, health and other education programs, as well as transportation accounts and an agricultural insurance program, the White House said in a blog post.

Eliminating the Joint Strike Fighter second engine project would emerge as one of the key Pentagon cuts.

Conservative Republicans in the House led the campaign to end the project, which supporters argued was needed to get the best product as two companies competed to build the new F-35 engine. Critics said building two versions of the same engine was wasteful.

The alternate engine is being built in Ohio, just outside of House Speaker John A. Boehner's district, and he has supported the jobs and other economic benefits stemming from the project.


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