Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) said he won’t vote for the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill unveiled Wednesday unless a clause ending the restriction on using Russian-made engines in national security space launches is rescinded. Speaking on the Senate floor Wednesday, McCain called the legislation a “triumph of pork barrel parochialism” and he blasted appropriators for secretly including the language in the legislation. The Fiscal 2016 defense authorization, which Congress overwhelmingly approved before and after a presidential veto, allows United Launch Alliance to use a total of nine Russian-made RD-180 engines, which power the Atlas V rocket, McCain said. “My colleagues on the Appropriations Committee crafted a provision in secret, with no debate, to overturn the will of the Senate as expressed in two National Defense Authorization Acts,” said McCain. “And the result will enable a monopolistic corporation to send potentially hundreds of millions of dollars to Vladimir Putin and his corrupt cronies and deepen America’s reliance on these thugs for our military’s access to space.” (Read McCain’s full statement.)
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.