This article incorrectly suggested that Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates initiated a conversation with Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) before the vote to scrap funding for the F-22 fighter jet. Kerry called Gates first. The article also misstated the amount of the Air Force's request for the F-22 stealth fighter jet program. It was about $4 billion, for 20 more planes.
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White House's Aggressive Effort Ends Funding for F-22
So they put off the vote by shifting attention to a provision in the defense bill to expand protections under laws against hate crimes. That gave the Obama administration several days to restart its lobbying effort to win the vote. That afternoon, the administration, in a statement from the Office of Budget and Management, repeated the veto threat, emphasizing the point by underlining the sentence.
"People had to ask: Did we want this to be the first time he vetoed a bill from Congress?" said one senior Democratic Senate aide.
With several days now to organize opposition to the plane's funding, Gates started calling members of Congress. Vice President Biden called his old friend, Sen. Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii), Inouye said. The vice president called at least two other senators and asked for their votes, and Obama called Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), said a senior administration official. National security adviser Gen. James Jones made calls, as did Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn.
On the day before the vote, Gates called Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) to push him to support stripping the funding. Some of the plane's components are produced in Massachusetts, but Gates told Kerry of the importance of the vote and said the F-35 would continue to be produced, employing workers in the state. In a later call with Emanuel, Kerry said Gates had answered all his questions.
"The president pulled out all of the stops," said Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), who was pushing for additional funding for the plane.
Another advocate for funding the plane, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), said the lobbying effort included calling Republicans, because Obama "had a lot riding on this vote."
On Tuesday, aides in the White House's legislative affairs office, all former key aides to powerful congressmen, swarmed the Hill to collar votes. Emanuel sent some of his own staff members to help and to provide key intelligence directly to him back in the White House.
After the Senate voted 58 to 40, two votes fewer than would have been required to fund the program, Obama and the man he defeated in last year's presidential contest both hailed the outcome, using strikingly similar language.
"It really means there's a chance that we can change the way we do business here in Washington," said McCain, who long has had a deep disdain for the F-22 program.
The outcome of the fight is "a good example of us starting to change habits in Washington," Obama said.
Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), who had worked the $1.75 billion into the $680 billion defense spending bill, was left to grumble that he had never seen a White House lobby as hard for anything as this one did.
Staff writers Dana Hedgpeth, Greg Jaffe and Paul Kane contributed to this report.