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House Dem wants to kill failing missile defense program

- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 23, 2013

A California Democrat on the U.S. House Armed Services Committee put the Pentagon on notice of her intent to finally end a failing and heavily criticized missile defense program.

During a subcommittee mark-up Wednesday of part of the fiscal 2014 authorization bill for the Department of Defense, Rep. Loretta Sanchez blasted the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS), saying she was preparing a measure to terminate it, Defense News reported.

Ms. Sanchez told Republican Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama, chairman of the Strategic Force Subcommittee, that she was "really alarmed" that Pentagon officials "ignore" lawmakers from both sides of the aisle who want to kill the program.

The program, a joint venture by the United States, Germany and Italy, has experienced technical problems so bad that the Pentagon currently does not plan to buy even one of the system, which is designed to shoot down medium-range missiles.

But military officials want to keep the technology for future use, arguing that the costs of shutting down the program early will be larger than the expense of simply letting it finish its currently scheduled run.

Ms. Sanchez said the argument to spend an additional $381 million to avoid termination fees is "alarming" when lawmakers are considering big cuts to the departments of Health and Human Services, and Education.

"We have spent $2 billion since I've been [in Congress] on MEADS trying to get it together," Ms. Sanchez said.

She charged the Pentagon with acting "against the will of the committee," adding the matter should be viewed by other lawmakers as "a key issue in a time of dollars and cents."

Although she withdrew an amendment aimed at cutting off the program, she said she would "very likely" reintroduce it when the full committee marks up the entire bill next month, Defense News said.

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