The Defense Authorization Bill that was voted out of committee on Wednesday brought back to life an expensive earmark that has plagued taxpayers for years – the F136 alternate engine for the Joint Strike Fighter. The second engine line has been opposed by both President Bush and President Obama, is unwanted and unneeded by the Pentagon and has been rejected by both chambers of Congress. Already having cost $3 billion in taxpayer funds, the earmark was thought to have finally been laid to rest last month – its reinsertion in to the 2012 Defense bill signals this may not be the last time we see the earmark rise from the dead.

  • July 2009: Members of the Senate reject funding for the F136 engine in the National Defense Authorization Act. However, the House of Representatives restores funds for the account, despite repeated protests from the Pentagon that it is unnecessary and wasteful.
  • September 2010: The House of Representatives fails to pass appropriations bills and passes a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government for the 2011 Fiscal Year, starting October 1. The White House issues guidance on CR protocol, prohibiting money for accounts that had not received funding in bills passed by either chamber. Both the House and Senate had passed bills that year that excluded funding for the F136.
  • December 2010: Despite the OMB guidance, the White House backtracks, assuring Members of Congress the duplicative engine line will receive funding.
  • April 2011: The House of Representatives strips funding for the alternate engine in its final year funding deal. The Senate passes the bill and the President signs it into law.
  • March 2011: The Pentagon officially cancels the account, terminating the duplicative earmark.
  • May 2011: The National Defense Authorization Act passes out of the House Armed Services Committee with language allowing for continued testing of the alternate engine and a requirement that the system may be “restarted after a period of idleness,” ensuring taxpayers will continue to be on the hook for the earmark that refuses to be laid to rest.