May 14, 2019 / 10:37 PM / 11 days ago

Early version of U.S. House bill seeks to bar F-35 from Turkey

FILE PHOTO: Israeli Air Force F-35 flies during an aerial demonstration at a graduation ceremony for Israeli air force pilots at the Hatzerim air base in southern Israel December 26, 2018. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. House of Representatives committee on Tuesday released an early version of a spending bill that seeks to prevent the shipment of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey, as U.S. officials press Turkey not to buy a Russian S-400 air defense system.

The appropriations committee’s bill forbids use of federal funds to deliver F-35s to Turkey. Congress often uses its control of federal government spending to influence policy by barring the use of funds. In this case, the measure would not allow any spending, for example, for fuel or pilots to fly the aircraft to Turkey

Like other NATO allies of Washington, Turkey is both a prospective buyer and a partner in production of the F-35. But U.S. officials have said Turkey’s plan to buy the Russian system would compromise the security of the Lockheed Martin F-35 jets.

The dispute has strained relations between Washington and Ankara.

The House defense appropriations subcommittee will consider the massive bill funding the Department of Defense on Wednesday. The F-35 provision is a small piece of the $690 billion bill.

It is to early to tell when, if ever, the F-35 measure might become law. To pass, the appropriations bill must pass the House of Representatives, which is controlled by Democrats, and the Senate, controlled by President Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans.

The bill also must be signed into law by Trump, who wants more money - $750 billion - for defense than House Democrats want to provide.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; additional reporting by Mike Stone; editing by Cynthia Osterman

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