- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 22, 2001

The Senate restored $1.3 billion in cuts in missile defense yesterday as it took up the $344 billion Department of Defense budget for 2002.

Democrats on the Armed Services Committee put the missile-defense cuts in the bill, which passed on a party-line vote. But to avoid a floor fight, panel Chairman Carl Levin, Michigan Democrat, and ranking Republican John W. Warner of Virginia jointly offered an amendment that would add $1.3 billion to the bill.

"We operate differently in times of emergency," said Mr. Levin, referring to last week's terrorist attacks. "We set aside those differences we can't bridge."

Although the amendment restores the amount cut from missile defense, it leaves it to the president to choose how much of that amount will be spent on the research and development, and how much will be spent to combat terrorism.

"This bill will communicate to our citizens and to the world that the United States is resolved to do whatever is necessary to protect our homeland," Mr. Warner said.

Mr. Levin, Mr. Warner and others asked senators to help in that effort.

The Senate majority and minority leaders "want as little controversy with this legislation as possible," said Majority Whip Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat. He said the leaders were particularly concerned about controversial or unrelated amendments that might be offered during debate.

"I would hope that members would be cautious about making this a Christmas tree," Mr. Reid said.

The measure authorizes $343.5 billion for defense, a 10 percent increase over the amount authorized for fiscal 2001.

While the Senate was debating the overall defense authorization, the House passed unanimously the fiscal 2002 Military Construction Appropriations bill. An authorization bill says how much can be spent on a program, while an appropriations bill actually provides the money.

"In light of last week's tragic events, it is more important than ever before to ensure that our critical military infrastructure and our military personnel are adequately protected," said Rep. David L. Hobson, Ohio Republican and chairman of the subcommittee in charge of the military-construction bill.

The measure, which passed with 401 votes, provides $10.5 billion for construction projects, such as barracks and family housing.

Despite quick action on the bill, agreement on an overall budget framework for fiscal 2002 eluded negotiators.

House and Senate appropriators proposed to the White House discretionary spending for 2002 of $686 billion, $25 billion more than was proposed under the budget approved by Congress this spring. Of that increase, $18 billion is for Mr. Bush's own supplemental defense request. Another $4 billion would go for education, and $2.2 billion would be to pay for emergency and disaster assistance.

Mitchell E. Daniels Jr., director of the Office of Management and Budget, was not enthusiastic about the proposal, but agreed to discuss it with the president, according to sources close to the negotiations.

The White House would like to find $4 billion in cuts, possibly with an across-the-board reduction in spending, to offset the proposed spending increases.

Appropriations staff did meet yesterday with administration officials, but that was to discuss the first $5.1 billion in emergency spending to assist in the humanitarian, recovery, and national-security needs.

This is the first installment from the $40 billion in emergency funds enacted earlier this week.

Additional installments will be released in the coming weeks, according to the Office of Management and Budget.

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