By Emelie Rutherford

The House was poised last night to vote today on a plan to strip from the defense appropriations bill F-22 jet funding President Obama said would spur him to veto the fiscal year 2010 measure. Yet House members will leave in the legislation funds for two items Obama may reject: continued work on the canceled presidential helicopter and an alternate engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

House Appropriations Defense subcommittee (HAC-D) Chairman John Murtha (D-Pa.), a former F-22 backer, crafted the amendment up for a vote today to remove from the bill $369 million in advance-procurement funds for 12 of the Lockheed Martin [LMT] fighters.

Yet HAC-D Ranking Member C.W. Bill Young (R-Fla.) made clear last night, at the outset of House debate on the defense appropriations measure, that F-22 support remains in the House.

“The bill today provides for additional F-22s and that’s the way we like it,” Young said, questioning if the F-35 will be ready in time to take up the mission of air superiority he said the F-22 fulfills.

Murtha declared last week he would no longer push to buy more F-22s that the 187 the Pentagon wants after the Senate, under intense pressure from the White House, voted overwhelmingly to ax funds for more of the fighters from its defense authorization bill.

Murtha’s F-22-funding-removal measure received the blessing of the House Rules Committee Tuesday night. That same Rules panel in June did not allow House floor votes on amendments to strip the same F-22 monies from the defense authorization bill. Yet, after the House passed the authorization measure last month, the Obama administration launched a massive campaign against buying more of the aircraft with once-strong congressional support.

Murtha’s amendment would redirect F-22 funds in the House defense appropriations bill to shutting down the aircraft’s production line and purchasing other aircraft items including spare engines for existing F-22s and C-17 cargo haulers.

The White House in a Statement of Administration Policy Tuesday threatened to veto the House version of the Pentagon appropriations measure over the F-22 monies. The statement also suggested a veto could result from two other items the Pentagon does not want: $560 million to continue the F-35 second engine developed by General Electric [GE] and Rolls-Royce, and $400 million to operationalize five of the VH-71 presidential helicopter from the canceled Lockheed Martin program. Lockheed Martin develops the F-35.

House lawmakers also drafted amendments to reduce the VH-71 and Joint Strike Fighter second-engine funding in the appropriations bill, but the House Rules Committee did not allow those amendments to be considered on the House floor.

No amendments were offered to try to reduce the Obama administration’s missile-defense cuts in the House appropriations measure. Yet an amendment to strip $80 million for the Kinetic Energy Interceptor (KEI), offered by Rep. John Tierney (D-Mass.), was cleared for floor debate by the Rules panel.

The HAC-D added to the bill the funds for the KEI program, which the Pentagon wants to cancel. The $80 million would be spent on continuing the program until a forthcoming Pentagon review is done.

Senate appropriators are not expected to craft their defense spending bill until September.

The House-passed defense authorization bill contains the $369 million for advance procurement of 12 F-22s, while the Senate version of that legislation has no funds for the aircraft. A House-Senate conference committee on the Pentagon authorization measure, which will decide if the F-22 monies will remain in the final version sent to Obama, met for the first time yesterday.

The new fiscal year will start Oct. 1.