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Policy Letter

Good Government Groups Urge Senate to Support McCain Amendment to Strip C-17 Funds from Defense Appropriations Bill

Chairman Daniel K. Inouye and Ranking Member Thad Cochran

Senate Committee on Appropriations

Room S 128, The Capitol

Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Inouye and Ranking Member Cochran:

As you begin consideration of the FY 2010 Defense Appropriations bill, we would like to commend your efforts in eliminating wasteful programs targeted by the President and Secretary of Defense, and ask you to support further waste reduction initiatives such as an amendment to strip funding for unneeded C-17 cargo planes.

We would like to thank the committees for placing national security objectives over parochial interests by deciding to stop buying F-22s. Additionally, we would like to thank the Senate Appropriations Committee for refusing to provide additional funding for the VH-71 Presidential Helicopter program or the continued development of the Joint Strike Fighter Alternate Engine, two programs that the Department of Defense has stated repeatedly that they neither want nor need to continue.

We are disappointed, however, by the decision to earmark funds—$2.5 billion in the case of the Senate appropriators bill—for C-17 aircraft in excess of the amounts requested by the President. The 2005 Mobility Capability Study—the most recent completed analysis for air transport needs—stated that 180 C-17s are all that are necessary within an acceptable measure of risk. But when it comes to the C-17 program, Congress has earmarked with reckless abandon. Perhaps the grossest example of Congress's irresponsible wasting of taxpayer funds was in 2007, when conference committees more than tripled the number of additional C-17s requested by House and Senate authorizers and appropriators. We have attached a chart to illustrate how Congress has been the wind beneath the wings of this Airlifter program from that point forward.

President Obama demanded that the bill not be "loaded up with unrelated items." It's hard to see how billions for unneeded aircraft serve our national interests, particularly in a time of war. We ask you to support an amendment by Senator John McCain (R-AZ) to strip funding for the unneeded C-17s out of the bill.


Danielle Brian

Executive Director

Project On Government Oversight

Ryan Alexander

Executive Director

Taxpayers for Common Sense

Attachment - "C-17 Appropriations: Seeing Red"