The Senate votes 58-40 to strip funding on the nation's leading fighter jet program, following the wishes of President Barack Obama and top military advisers that the F-22 is a "costly drag on the Pentagon's budget in an era of small wars." This clears a major hurdle toward passage of the hate crimes act, attached as an amendment to the defense authorization bill.
Although lawmakers debated over several days, as they have for many decades, whether the fighters are needed to counter a military threat from Russia or China, the nation's current economic travails might have played a larger role than military strategy in the vote. Although the plane's supporters worried that its cancellation would eliminate thousands of jobs at a time of economic hardship, its critics argued just as passionately that the plane deserved no additional funds at a time of pressing social needs.
Last Thursday, the Matthew Shepard Act was added to the defense bill by a 63-28 voice vote. The President vowed to veto the DoD re-authorization if it included funding for more than four F-22s. Oh and yesterday, anti-gay and proto-racist Alabama Republican Sen. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III adds additional and "unwelcome" amendments to the hate crimes portion of the DoD re-authorization. All four amendments were approved Monday.
Joe Sudbay at AMERICAblog Gay with the take-away: "So, the Senate defense bill has language we'd want on Hate Crimes (and some we don't), but the bill no longer has language the President didn't want on the F-22. The legislation still has a ways to go before it passes in the Senate, probably by the end of the week. Then, it will go to conference where hopefully the hate crimes language will be included in the final package."