Cheney Budget Approved; Aspin Calls Vote Responsibile
WASHINGTON (AP) _ A narrow subcommittee vote to accept Defense Secretary Dick Cheney’s $69 billion military purchasing budget shows Congress is mindful of budget constraints, says House Armed Services Committee Chairman Les Aspin.
″Would you have thought that you could have gotten the procurement subcommittee to vote for this?″ a gleeful Aspin, D-Wis., said Tuesday after the procurement and military nuclear systems subcommittee approved his amendment by a vote of 10-9.
Aspin, who chairs both the subcommittee and the full Armed Services panel, had urged his colleagues to accept Cheney’s procurement budget as is, to prevent add-ons totaling $7.2 billion.
″I think it’s a remarkable testimony to the fact that people do re declined to give odds on the decision but indicated that the final vote will be close.
″While the budget may not be perfect, it’s a darn good product - especially given the 39 days Dick Cheney had to put it together,″ Aspin told the panel.
The chairman and two other Democrats - Ike Skelton of Missouri and Richard Ray of Georgia - joined seven of the panel’s eight Republicans in approving the measure.
Rep. Robert W. Davis of Ohio was the lone GOP member to vote against the plan, which basically removes the right of members to rewrite the $300 billion fiscal 1990 budget to restore local projects canceled by Cheney.
Pentagon spokesman Fred Hoffman said he was pleased with the vote.
But some Democratic members complained that the measure amounted to an abdication of the subcommittee’s authority.
″A yes vote ... would be abrogating ourselves out of business,″ said Rep. Frank McCloskey, D-Ind.
″I think I’m giving up my rights if I have to vote for something that I can only change on the floor,″ added Rep. Norman Sisisky, D-Va.
Some members have pressed for restoring the Navy F-14D Tomcat fighter and Marine V-22 Osprey, which Cheney canceled. If restored, the F-14D would add $366 million and the V-22 $700 million.
Other possible add-ons include $55 million in new equipment for the Navy P- 3 anti-submarine aircraft, $436 million for Air Force C-130s and $240 million for heavy trucks made in Oshkosh, Wis.
Aspin said after the vote that lobbying was fierce on both sides, with President Bush and the Northrop Corp. pushing for adoption of the Cheney budget. Northrop, which manufactures the B-2 stealth bomber, fears losing funds for its program to support other military projects.
Lobbying against the plan were Grumman Corp., builder of the F-14, and the alumni association of the Marine Corps, backers of the V-22 Osprey.