Once again, a congressional decision has shown that money talks -- or in this case, flies. The House recently voted down Rep. Ron Dellums' (D-Calif.) proposal to eliminate $331.2 million in funding for nine B-2 stealth bombers to be built by defense contractor Northrup Grumman -- nine bombers, that is, that the Pentagon and President Clinton never asked for in the first place.
This deal didn't just fall into Northrop Grumman's lap, though. The contractor had to buy its way in. In the last election, Northrop Grumman stealthfully carpeted federal candidates and parties with nearly $900,000 in PAC and soft money donations, according to a study by the Center for Responsive Politics. House National Security Committee members, who proposed the additional bomber funding, got an average of $2,705 from the contractor's PAC. On the whole, the contractor's PAC dropped $2,378 on Representatives who voted for stealth funding, ten times more those who voted against it. In the first five months of this year, the contractor's PAC dropped $84,500 on House members, two-thirds of them Republicans.