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The Obama administration’s campaign against a costly alternative engine for the Pentagon’s next-generation fighter jet faces a critical vote in the GOP-controlled House, its fate to be decided by more than 90 freshmen lawmakers who previously haven’t had to choose sides between two major defense companies.

The expected vote Wednesday comes as the House enters its second day of debate on a $1.2 trillion spending bill that would make deep cuts while wrapping up the unfinished business lawmakers inherited after last year’s collapse of the budget process. That includes $1.03 trillion for agency operating budgets that need annual approval by Congress and $158 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The engine battle pits Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates — who say the engine would waste almost $3 billion over the next few years — against GOP leaders like House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, whose state is a chief beneficiary. The spending measure includes $450 million for the engine, which would be built by the General Electric Co. and Rolls-Royce in Ohio, Indiana and other states.

On the other side are lawmakers from Connecticut, where the main F-35 fighter engine is built by Pratt & Whitney, as well members from Florida, Texas and other states.

Source: The Associated Press

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