FORT WORTH, TX—The Senate removed financing for seven additional F-22 planes to be built by Fort Worth-based Lockheed Martin Corp. from the defense spending bill Tuesday.
President Barack Obama had threatened to veto any bill with funding for the F-22 warplanes, because he said the planes were unnecessary.
"At a time when we're fighting two wars and facing a serious deficit, this would have been an inexcusable waste of money," he said. "Our budget is a zero sum game, and if more money goes to F-22s, it's our troops and our citizens who lose."
The International Association of Machinist and Aerospace Workers, which represents more than 300 Lockheed employees, had been urging Congress to keep the F-22 planes in the bill.
Union President Tim Smith said they felt optimistic going into Tuesday's vote.
"We did have some high hopes that were dashed," he said.
When the news came down Tuesday afternoon, Smith and other workers were not surprised by Congress' decision.
"We've been dealing with the reality that it could happen for the last year and almost a half," Smith said. "It's not a shock that it did happen."
The news quickly spread through Lockheed Martin's Fort Worth facility, leaving workers facing a grim reality about their jobs.
"I don't have a crystal ball or something to tell them exactly what's going to happen," F-22 worker Dave Power said. "It certainly does take the hope away that they will have a job later on the future to rely on."
About 1,800 workers in Fort Worth work on the F-22 project that could be done as early as the end of the year, union workers said.
If that's the case, there would be a significant gap between the end of the F-22 project and the beginning of the F-35 project. Union members are worried that could be a recipe for layoffs.
"There will be some layoffs from this," Power said.
He added that Congress' decision could impact Fort Worth as a whole.
"Ending this program -- the F-22 -- will not only are we going to take away the best fighter there is out there, but we are also going to take away a lot of jobs," he said. "Not just from the people overhear at Lockheed but from this whole community as well."
Several Texas politicians spoke up Tuesday offering support of the F-22 project.
"Terminating the production of these world-class fighters would be a profound mistake for several reason, but thankfully today's vote is not the final word on that issue," Sen. John Cornyn said.
Cornyn said he would continue to fight for additional funding of the F-22 project.