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$100 billion eyed in cost savings

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said Monday he wants to trim some of the billions of dollars the Pentagon spends on weapons systems and contractor services, part of a Pentagon-wide effort to find $100 billion in savings in the next five years

Mr. Gates, who already plans to pare down the Pentagon’s huge bureaucracy to save money, said that the Defense Department will focus on unnecessary spending by defense contractors that provide the military with everything from fighter jets to janitors.

Mr. Gates said it is “a matter of principle and political reality to make sure every taxpayer dollar counts.” His goal is to shift money from overhead expenses to supporting U.S. troops spread around the globe.

The Pentagon will spend about $400 billion of its roughly $700 billion budget on weapons and services from defense contractors. The new plan calls for annual savings of about 2 percent to 3 percent through measures like contracts that require the defense companies to shoulder cost overruns and encouraging competition between contractors.


Lautenberg says he’s cancer-free

MAPLEWOOD, N.J. | Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, who became the Senate’s oldest member when Sen. Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia died Monday, has announced that he is cancer-free.

Mr. Lautenberg made the announcement Saturday at the Garden State Equality Legends Dinner in Maplewood. The 86-year-old Democrat told the gay rights group that his doctor said to him Friday: “It’s gone, Frank.”

Mr. Lautenberg was hospitalized Feb. 15 after falling at his New Jersey home. He was treated for a bleeding ulcer, and it was announced Feb. 19 that B-cell lymphoma was found in his stomach. Mr. Lautenberg began chemotherapy treatment and returned to the Senate on March 2.


Bank-regulation bill losing support

A sweeping overhaul of financial regulations faced new obstacles in the Senate on Monday — the loss of one and potentially two crucial votes to guarantee its passage.

The death of Sen. Robert C. Byrd, West Virginia Democrat, and new misgivings by Republican Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts put the bill’s fate in doubt. The two men were among the 61 senators who had supported an original Senate version of the bill.

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