News In Brief

Nerve-gas funds waylaid in House; B-1, MX survive

The House Appropriations Committee canceled all production funding Thursday for two controversial new nerve-gas weapons wanted by the Pentagon. The committee, working on a $246.2 billion military appropriations bill, also narrowly endorsed spending $400 million to negotiate multiyear contracts for the B-1 bomber and rejected efforts to scrap production funds for the MX and Pershing II nuclear missiles.

On the nerve-gas issue, the panel's defense subcommittee had already sliced most of the Pentagon's original request of $151.6 million to produce the 155-mm artillery shell and the ''Bigeye'' bomb. The committee's 28-to-22 vote, on an amendment by Rep. John Edward Porter (R) of Illinois, cut the remaining funds.

Mr. Porter argued that with evidence of the Soviet Union's use of chemical weapons in Laos and Afghanistan, the US should keep the propaganda advantage by continuing to refrain from producing chemical weapons. The US has not produced nerve gas weapons since 1969.

A recent General Accounting Office report concluded that all production funds should be deleted because the Pentagon was not expected to make a decision on where to base the production plants until March 1984, halfway into the fiscal year.

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