- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 25, 2002

ASSOCIATED PRESS
A House committee voted last night to kill the $11 billion Crusader artillery system and begin a search for a more mobile weapon, a victory for President Bush.
The language is a retreat by lawmakers facing veto threats from the White House, which considers the proposed 40-ton Crusader a Cold War relic too cumbersome for an Army emphasizing mobility.
It also represents an effort to satisfy lawmakers from Oklahoma, Minnesota and other states where the high-tech cannon has been tested and would have been produced by the contractor, United Defense LP.
The provision would provide $648 million for work next year on new artillery systems, $173 million more than Mr. Bush initially sought for Crusader before deciding to terminate it. It would require the Pentagon to use technologies developed by the first $2 billion already spent on Crusader, an effort to retain contracts with United Defense.
"While it's not my number one choice, it is a reasonable alternative," said Rep. Martin Olav Sabo, Minnesota Democrat, a Crusader supporter who tried earlier this year to save the program.
The plan was part of a near $355 billion defense bill for next year that the Republican-led House Appropriations Committee approved by voice vote. There was no separate vote on Crusader.
The Senate has approved language letting Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld decide what artillery system the Army should seek. He has been trying to kill Crusader over initial objections by the Army, which liked Crusader's extra firepower.
The House panel's defense measure contains about $12 billion less than the president wants, including a $10 billion contingency fund Mr. Bush proposed that lawmakers say they will work on later. It is also $34 billion higher than the total this year.
The Appropriations Committee also used a voice vote to approve a $10.1 billion measure to finance next year's military-construction projects. The popular bill, loaded with money for work from coast to coast and abroad, is about $500 million more than Mr. Bush proposed.
In other congressional action:
The Senate Environment Committee announced yesterday that it will vote Thursday on whether to subpoena the White House for documents explaining its decision to relax air-pollution rules for aging coal-fired power plants.
Sen. James M. Jeffords, Vermont independent and panel chairman, is seeking Environmental Protection Agency records on interagency discussions and meetings with outside interest groups on development of the new air-pollution regulations. A spokesman for Mr. Jeffords declined to elaborate on what materials might be subpoenaed.
Senators continued debating a bill outlining, but not financing, next year's defense programs. They voted 93-0 for a provision that would prevent U.S. servicewomen in Saudi Arabia from being required or encouraged to wear Muslim-style head-to-toe robes.


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