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C-17 Survives McCain's Best Shot

The full Senate convincingly snubbed Sen. John McCain, who had fought to strip 10 C-17s added by Sen. Daniel Inouye's appropriation committee, voting 30-68 against his spending amendment.

The C-17 amendment was not McCain's only attempt Tuesday afternoon and evening to whack spending from the bill. He tried to cut earmarks with a series of amendments but he failed on all of them. In the end, McCain, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, voted against the full defense spending bill. The Arizona senator has a long history of pushing hard for his authorizing committee to wield as much influence as possible and consistently criticizes his Senate colleagues for their support of what he regards as wasteful spending.

Sen. Inouye, a wily operator, dismissed McCain's efforts, saying he welcomed "any constructive suggestions on how to improve the operations and efficiency" of the committee's work as long as they did "not compromise the constitutional principle that the power of the purse is invested in the Congress." Translation: Hey, McCain -- this is what appropriators get to do and authorizers don't.

The spending bill did not include money for the F136 engine for the Joint Strike Fighter, but Sen. Inouye has made clear he will take that issue to conference where it is expected to be added back in. Inouye avoids a Senate fight over the F136 and can quietly add the money in conference.

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