This would be akin to Henry Waxman declaring health care reform dead:

“When the Senate said 58 to 40, I think that ended the debate,” said Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), the chairman of the House Appropriations Defense subcommittee. “We have to be realistic about this.”

The vote on whether to extend money to the F-22 emerged as a crucial test for President Obama, who personally vowed to veto any defense bill that contained money to extend the fighter program. The Obama administration wants to cap the fleet at 187 planes.

Murtha last week included $369 million in the 2010 defense appropriations bill for advance parts for 12 more F-22s after 2010.

Now Murtha said he will seek to use the $369 million for spare parts and engines for existing F-22s and not as a down payment of sorts on any additional jets.

Obama has faced down the old bulls--and won.

--Michael Crowley