General Electric Co.’s alternative engine for the F-35 jet is included in the legislation that funds the federal government through March 4, two senators said.

Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew informed lawmakers of the decision to include the second engine, Senators Joseph Lieberman, a Connecticut independent, andSherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat, said yesterday in separate statements. Congress passed the measure yesterday and sent it to President Barack Obama for his signature.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates opposes the GE engine as unnecessary and a waste of money. United Technologies Corp.’s Pratt & Whitney unit makes the primary engine for the F-35, and Gates has said repeatedly that he will urge Obama to veto any bill funding the GE version.

Lew in his two-paragraph letter yesterday to Brown said the legislation “as currently drafted” required the Pentagon to “continue funding” the engine “on a pro-rata basis through” March 4 “so as not to impinge on Congress’s funding prerogatives” until the fiscal year 2011 defense appropriations bill is finally passed.

The headquarters of United Technologies and Pratt & Whitney are in Hartford, Connecticut, in Lieberman’s home state. Though GE is based in Fairfield, Connecticut, its version of the F-35 engine -- for which it has partnered with London-based Rolls- Royce Group Plc -- would be manufactured by GE Aviation at facilities in Cincinnati and Evendale, Ohio.

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