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House OKs $302.5-Billion Budget for Defense Dept.

October 29, 1985|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The House today approved a bill authorizing a record Pentagon budget for the current fiscal year after some liberal Democrats dropped complaints which had delayed the measure for three months.

The bill, approved by voice vote, authorizes Defense Department spending of $302.5 billion in the fiscal year that started Oct. 1. That will buy thousands of planes, ships, tanks and other weapons, but it also halves President Reagan's MX nuclear missile program from 100 to 50 of the 10-warhead weapons.

The 469-page bill also permits the Pentagon to build new chemical weapons for the first time since 1969, although money to actually pay for the project was stripped last week from a companion spending bill. Those funds will have to be restored on the floor or else the Army could not build the nerve gas bombs and artillery shells.

The Senate approved the authorization measure 94-5 three months ago, shortly after it emerged from a House-Senate conference committee called to resolve 1,200 differences between the versions passed by the Democratic-controlled House and Republican-run Senate.

But some House liberals were unhappy with the bill, arguing that House members of the conference committee, led by Armed Services Committee Chairman Les Aspin (D-Wis.) made too many concessions to their Senate counterparts.

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) told his colleagues today that "the position of the House was not well-represented" in the conference committee.

For example, the House originally voted for a $292-billion Pentagon budget, but the conferees accepted the Senate-approved figure of $302.5 billion.

Reagan has said he supports the measure, even though it limits the increase in defense spending to the expected inflation rate. Last year's authorized Pentagon budget was $292 billion and Reagan had originally sought a 5.9% hike beyond inflation, to about $320 billion.

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