The US Department of Defense must reluctantly continue paying General Electric and Rolls-Royce to develop the F136 engine through at least 4 March, says Sen Sherrod Brown of Ohio.
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has confirmed, says Brown, that a continuing resolution passed earlier this week by Congress includes funding to keep alive the alternate engine for the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter programme.
DOD officials still hope to cancel the F136 to save nearly $2 billion in development costs - a cost thwarted by the engines Congressional allies every year since 2006.
Meanwhile, Congress is still debating the defence budget for Fiscal 2011, which started on 1 October. The government is continuing to operate under a continuing resolution that expires on 23 December.
But Congress passed a second continuing resolution on 21 December that will keep the government functioning for 10 more weeks. It was not clear that the DOD would continue funding the F136, but OMB - the White House's fiscal planning office - has confirmed to Brown that the engine will continue receiving support.
The debate about the F136 programme's future will reactivate after Congress returns to consider the FY2011 appropriations bills.