Raptor Down (58-40)

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In a vote sure to be read as a sign of the Obama administrations power on defense matters, the Senate voted by a lopsided 40-58 in favor of an amendment stripping $1.75 billion for the F-22 from the defense authorization bill.

You could almost hear the whoops in Defense Secretary Robert Gates offices as he and his team scored a decisive victory. Gates reputation as a man willing to take tough decisions and to stick with them gained greatly and won enhanced credibility with the vote. He will be difficult to defeat on any major program decision he takes for the forseeable future.

Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he knew stopping production of the fighter would be painful but he and his fellow lawmakers had to grasp such nettles based on what is best for the nation and what is best for the men and women of the armed forces. Another factor that clearly played a role in swinging reluctant lawmakers behind Levin and Sen. John McCain were the clear signals sent from the Pentagon that F-22 production should be stopped. The recommendation is strong and clear, as strong and clear as I have ever heard, Levin said on the Senate floor.

-- Colin Clark

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