HOUSE-PASSED DEFENSE BILL FACES BUSH VETO
WASHINGTON — The House passed a $291 billion defense budget for fiscal 1992, but the Democratic-written package faces a veto because it kills off the B-2 Stealth bomber and cuts deeply into the Strategic Defense Initiative missile (SDI) defense effort. The bill - which also allows the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps make their own decisions on whether or not to let women fly combat missions - won final approval on a 268-to-161 vote Wednesday after just three days on the House floor.
Final passage came following the handling of a variety of lesser amendments, ones in which the chamber refused to expand the scope of the SDI's short-range missile defense program, refused to kill a missile program, refused to make the Pentagon test all new workers for drugs or set up a random testing program for all workers.
The House did agree, 220 to 208, to let overseas military hospitals provide abortions for military dependents and servicewomen at the patient's expense.
The bill, which must eventually be reconciled with a Senate version, faces a veto pledge from President Bush over its treatment of SDI and the bomber.
The administration sought about $5.2 billion for SDI and a newly incorporated program of theater missile defenses that includes an upgrade of the Patriot missile used with such success in the Persian Gulf war. The House opted to provide $858 million for the theater defense effort and about $2.7 billion for SDI.
And the administration wanted $3.2 billion to buy four more B-2 bombers, but the House Armed Services Committee for the second year in a row convinced the House to cut off the procurement funds. The bill does contain $1.6 billion for continued research and development on the plane. Some 15 have been ordered so far.