- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 8, 2001

The Senate Armed Services Committee approved a new round of base closings in the face of certain opposition from the House, where members are wary of the disruption caused when an area loses a base.
Working behind closed doors, the committee yesterday approved on a rare party-line 13-12 vote a Democratic-written defense-spending bill for fiscal year 2002, which begins Oct. 1.
The bill would authorize President Bush's request for $328.9 billion for the Defense Department, an 11 percent increase over the current year.
But it would cut $1.3 billion out of Mr. Bush's $8.3 billion proposed missile-defense budget, which is up $3 billion over this year's budget. In another party-line vote unusual in a committee that prides itself on its bipartisanship Democrats defeated an amendment by Virginia Sen. John W. Warner, the panel's top Republican, to restore $1 billion to missile defense, said Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, Connecticut Democrat.
The House Armed Services Committee's version of the bill, completed last month, left in the full $8.3 billion for missile defense as it authorized spending $328.9 billion for the Defense Department.
The measure also includes Democratic language that attempts to assert congressional control over spending on any activity that might violate the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.
Republicans derided the language, but did not try to erase it in committee, vowing to fight it on the Senate floor instead.
"We need to affirm the president in his bipartisan foreign policy to proceed with a national missile defense and help him to succeed promptly in negotiations with the Russians," said Sen. Jeff Sessions, Alabama Republican. "I'm afraid we may wind up with language that would hamper" that effort.
The committee approved one round of base closings, to occur in 2003, said Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, a supporter of such closings. The round would follow the same procedure as previous closings, with a special commission established to decide which bases should close. The vote was 17-8, with Democrats and Republicans voting on both sides of the issue, said Sen. Wayne Allard, Colorado Republican.
Pentagon officials have pleaded all year for more base closings, saying anywhere from 20 percent to 25 percent of military facilities are no longer needed and that the nation could save billions by closing them, but even they have acknowledged how unpopular that can be.
"As little stomach as I have for it, we're going to come at you" for base closings, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told one congressional panel. "We have simply got to turn waste into weapons."

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