Some members of Congress hope to halt President Bush's plans to co-produce a new jet fighter with Japan, saying it would "shut down American industries" by giving vital U.S. technology to the Japanese.
But key congressional leaders said the votes may not be available to override Bush's expected veto of any congressional resolution disapproving the deal for production of the FSX fighter, an advanced version of the F-16.Bush administration sources said the White House is "reasonably convinced" that it has sufficient support in Congress to prevent passage of the disapproval resolutions in the first place.
Rep. Richard Gephardt, D-Mo., has said that a two-thirds majority probably cannot be mustered in the House to override a veto, and Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell of Maine said that was likely the case in the Senate as well.
"It's a good deal for us and we're going to do our best to hold the president's position," said Senate Republican leader Bob Dole of Kansas after a meeting at the White House.
Dole said he believes there are at least 34 votes in the Senate to sustain a presidential veto.
Meanwhile, the General Accounting Office, the chief congressional watchdog agency, has challenged one of the Bush administration's arguments for going ahead with the FSX deal, according to the New York Times.
The GAO has concluded that the technology the United States is expected to receive from Japan is already well known to the American aircraft industry and in some cases is 10 years old, the Times reported in its Wednesday editions.