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Military-Industrial Complex Loses F-22 Battle, But Still Reigns Strong

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The military-industrial complex may have lost the battle over funding for F-22s, but defense contractors continue to prevail in the fight to finance programs that administration officials say are unnecessary.

Earlier this week, the House Appropriations Committee passed an appropriations bill for the 2010 defense budget, which included roughly $2 billion for military equipment that the White House and Pentagon say is redundant at this time.

The bill contains $674 million in allocations for three C-17 cargo planes, for which the military already has "more than necessary capacity" for the next decade, said Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

The budget also includes $485 million for VH-71 presidential helicopters, for which the Pentagon halted production in May 2009 after costs nearly doubled. As early as February 2009, President Obama said the program had "run amok."

The measure also contains $560 million for a new engine program for the F-35 fighter jet, which the administration "strongly objects to," on the grounds that "the current engine is performing well with more than 11,000 test hours." The White House told the Senate it would not support funding the engine program in an official letter earlier this month.

The House Appropriations Committee noted in an official press release that funding for each of these programs had not been requested by the White House.

The defense industry, which stands to benefit from each of these programs, has given more than $3.2 million in campaign contributions to lawmakers in 2009, according to the Center For Responsive Politics. It has also spent more than $38.9 million on lobbying expenses so far this year.

Sixteen of the defense industry's top 20 recipients of campaign contributions from the defense industry since 2007 are on either the Armed Services or Appropriations Committees for the House or Senate.

A spokesperson for the House Appropriations Committee declined a request for comment by the Huffington Post.

The $636.3 billion spending bill now faces a vote on the House floor, and if it passes, it will proceed to the Senate for consideration.

"What's clear is that our defense policy for too long has been driven by the defense industry's spending on lobbying and campaign contributions," said Bob Edgar, president of Common Cause, a research and advocacy organization, pushing for accountability in politics.

By virtue of their wealth and influence, Edgar said,"defense contractors seem to have as much influence in Congress over defense spending as Secretary of Defense Robert Gates or President Obama."