The House and Senate Armed Services Committees set the stage in May for a possible clash on missile defense funding later this year between the Republican-controlled House and the Senate, with its slim Democratic majority.
On May 1, the House Armed Services Committee approved its version of the fiscal year 2003 defense authorization act, providing a $21 million increase in missile defense spending above the Pentagon’s requested $7.8 billion. Its Senate counterpart, however, voted May 10 to cut $812 million from the administration’s missile defense request, reallocating $690 million of the slashed funds to shipbuilding for the Navy.
On May 10, the full House easily passed its Armed Services Committee’s version of the defense authorization act with the $21 million boost in missile defense spending intact. The Senate has yet to act on its committee’s recommended bill but is expected to vote in June. Once the Senate finalizes a version of the bill, the House and Senate will need to iron out any differences between their two drafts and then send a compromise version to the president.
Testifying May 21 before the defense subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said he opposed the proposed $812 million cut, which he described as “harmful,” and called upon the full Senate to restore the funding. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) assured Rumsfeld that he and other Senate Republicans would work to do just that when the bill comes to the Senate floor for debate.