The battle over the alternate engine for the Joint Strike Fighter has taken yet another twist.

Rep. John Larson is pushing two of his Democratic colleagues, those in charge of crafting the all-important stop-gap spending bill to keep the government running, to add language that will give the Defense Department “flexibility” to kill the program.

Larson’s efforts are on behalf of Pratt & Whitney, which makes the main engine for the JSF. His plea comes after General Electric, which makes the alternate engine, has lobbied others in Congress to include funding in the temporary funding bill for its fall-back product.

Larson portrayed his efforts as a way to avoid a government shut-down, alluding to President Barack Obama’s vow to veto any bill that preserved the alternate engine program.

“If Congress were to send a long-term [funding bill] to the President without flexibility on the Alternate Engine, we would in effect be continuing the program for another fiscal year in direct conflict with the President’s position,” Larson wrote to the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. “We cannot and should not hold the entire budgetary process hostage for this unnecessary program.”

Whether Obama would really carry out his veto threat and shut down the government over this relatively small issue is not actually clear.

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