The House Appropriations Committee has passed a $491 billion Pentagon spending bill for fiscal 2015 that backs the U.S. Air Force plan to begin to retire the A-10 Thunderbolt.

The committee defeated an amendment by Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) that would have continued to fund the A-10 at the expense of operation and maintenance accounts.

"The A-10 should be preserved for two reasons - cost savings and the safety of our troops on the ground," Kingston argued. "It is less expensive per flight hour than comparable aircraft and has saved countless lives in Afghanistan and Iraq."

Kingston notes that the House version of the defense authorization bill for fiscal 2015 allows the Pentagon to continue funding the aircraft, which is used for close-air support. The version of the bill approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee also would keep the A-10 in service.

Although the amendment had support in the House Appropriations Committee, it did not come from the top. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.), who took control of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee last fall after the death of longtime chairman Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.), opposed the amendment.

Frelinghuysen said keeping the A-10 could affect National Guard and Reserve bases, the purchase of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters and possibly result in the termination of the Combat Rescue Helicopter program.

The bill also provides $79.4 billion in funding for wars abroad.