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October 5, 2009—Sen. John McCain last week fresh off the Sept. 30 defeat of his first amendment to kill the additional 10 C-17 airlifters that Senate appropriators included in the 2010 defense spending bill introduced two new amendments—splitting into two parts his original amendment, which would have eliminated the additional C-17s and put that money in operations and maintenance.

The first new amendment (SA 2580) would strike the 10 additional C-17s, and the second (SA 2581) would increase O&M funding.

Part of McCain's pitch has been that appropriators robbed Peter (O&M) to pay Paul (more C-17s), but during the extensive floor debate on the first amendment, Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said that was not the case.

Inouye said that appropriators shifted $500 million from the base budget to the contingency budget "because the resources for certain programs were more appropriately funded for the Iraq and Afghanistan war." Another $100 million was reduced based on Administration savings proposals, and $100 million was cut because Senate authorizers didn't authorize that money for the proposed security and stabilization program.

Inouye further explained that these types of shifts are nothing new when considering an Administration's year-old budget proposal. He said his committee applied funds "where they are needed at this moment, not where they were needed a year ago."

The Senate takes up the defense bill again Tuesday. 

McCain Amendments

Congressional Record on C-17 debate Sept. 29, 2009

Congressional Record on C-17 debate Sept. 30, 2009

Congressional Record on C-17 debate Oct. 1, 2009