Despite protests by the Defense Department, President Clinton told senior defense officials Tuesday that they should not attempt to circumvent a congressional decision to spend $493 million on the B-2 bomber program.
The decision represents another victory for Northrop Grumman's effort to win more B-2 orders, though Clinton made no final decision on whether to ask Congress for funding to build more than the 20 B-2s now on order, an administration official said.
After Congress appropriated the $493 million and authorized an increase in B-2 production late last year, top Pentagon officials unleashed an attack on the funding.
The Pentagon had considered, for example, seeking approval to switch the B-2 funding to an account that would help pay for operations in Bosnia. Military officials had also considered simply not spending the money, concerned that it would ultimately force them into buying more B-2s than they could afford.