Depressing F-22 Update No. 463

| Wed Jul. 15, 2009 10:31 AM EDT

OK, maybe there haven't been quite that many. But lawmakers trying to deal a death blow to the F-22 fighter jet suffered yet another setback on Wednesday. The Senate was supposed to vote today on an amendment from Sens. Carl Levin and John McCain that would strip funding for the outmoded, overpriced plane from this year's defense authorization bill. (Obama has threatened to veto the legislation if it contains F-22 money.) There was a lot of last-minute arm-twisting yesterday, but the word on Tuesday night was that Levin and McCain had mustered just enough votes to kill the plane.

But not so fast! I've just heard that Levin has withdrawn the amendment for now, apparently because it somehow got caught in the middle of a separate battle brewing in the Senate over whether to add hate-crimes legislation to the defense legislation. Of course, maybe Levin just realized that he didn't have the votes after all. That wouldn't be so surprising—Lockheed and Boeing, which make the planes, have showered nearly $1.4 million on 50 senators so far this year. Levin plans to try again sometime later this week—I'll let you know what happens.