Congress Reaches Accord on Defense Bill
WASHINGTON-House and Senate negotiators reached agreement yesterday on a $291 billion defense bill that strikes another major blow to the embattled B-2 stealth bomber but gives new life to the Star Wars project.
The bill provides $1.8 billion to keep the B-2 production line open but it does not authorize the purchase of any additional planes beyond the 15 already being built. The Senate had proposed building four, the House pushed for zero.
The bill also provides $4.15 billion for the Strategic Defense Initiative, commonly called Star Wars, to develop a defense against longrange ballistic missiles. That is $650 million more than the House had proposed and about $1 billion less than President Bush had requested.
The negotiators became bogged down Thursday night over Republican objections to a Democrat proposal to use about $1 billion in Defense Department funds for food and medical aid to the Soviet Union. The aid provision was included in the final bill.