en. Chris Dodd could be caught in the crossfire over the Pentagon's budget proposal, which puts thousands of jobs in his state at risk at a time when his long-held Senate seat is also vulnerable.
The Connecticut Democrat, along with other members of his state's congressional delegation, is meeting Thursday with the Hartford chapter of the machinists' union that would take a big hit under Defense Secretary Robert Gates' call to halt production of the F-22 jet.
"We're very concerned the job base for aerospace would take a blow on this," said Frank Larkin, spokesman for the International Association of Machinists.
He said ending F-22 production would threaten up to 3,000 jobs in Connecticut, and 25,000 nationwide, with many of those job losses affecting his union members. Though the jets are mainly produced in Texas and Georgia, the engines are produced at Pratt & Whitney in Middletown, Conn.
This puts Dodd, a powerful Democrat on Capitol Hill, in a tight spot. Though he is a President Obama ally in a position to be a key cheerleader for his budget proposals, Dodd's poll numbers are at historic lows with an election coming up next year.
This week, Dodd sided with the workers and opposed the F-22 proposal.
Dodd co-signed a letter to Obama with other members of the state delegation Tuesday objecting to Gates' proposal and calling for Congress to "fully fund" the F-22s.
"Additional F-22 Raptors are critical to maintaining America's security in the face of new threats," the letter said. "Further, terminating the F-22 will seriously erode our industrial base, leaving our nation with significantly reduced capability to produce advanced fighter aircraft.