Tim Carney reports in the Washington Examiner.
The tension between the Republican establishment and the Tea Party insurgents erupted on the House floor for the first time Wednesday when 110 GOP representatives -- mostly freshmen and some longtime conservative gadflies -- broke from their leadership and most of their caucus in order to kill a defense contract. The vote highlighted an establishment-versus-Tea Party split that was glaring during the campaign season, and brought to the fore the uncomfortable question of defense spending. The amendment, killing the contract for a backup engine for the F-35 fighter, passed 233-198 Wednesday, but 130 of the 240 voting Republicans opposed the cut, including House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor. This puts the GOP majority and its leadership at odds with Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who doesn't want the backup engine, and former President George W. Bush, who also tried to kill it.
The United States needs a strong military and national defense is a legitimate constitutional function of the federal government. But to argue that every penny of the Pentagon budget is vital to our national defense is like saying we prove our commitment to education by the number of dollars we funnel to the Department of Education.
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