Senate Panel Recommends Cut in Pentagon Supplemental Funding
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Senate Appropriations Committee recommended $1.9 billion in supplemental funding for the Pentagon on Thursday, less than both President Clinton and the House had recommended.
Committee members, acting just after the full Senate failed to pass a balanced budget amendment, eagerly approved a measure that would, if passed into law, reduce the deficit by $1.5 billion. The measure fully offsets the additional defense spending with cuts in other Pentagon accounts and it recommends $1.5 billion in cuts from domestic programs.
``This is the first time that this committee will report a supplemental appropriations bill that reduces the deficit,″ said Sen. Mark Hatfield, R-Ore., the committee chairman, who had cast a key vote against the balanced budget measure.
Clinton asked Congress for $2.5 billion to cover deployments in Haiti, Bosnia, Cuba, the Persian Gulf, and elsewhere. The House added $670 million for a total of $3.2 billion and offset that total with cuts in defense and domestic programs.
The Senate Appropriations Committee said the White House had inflated its request and it rejected as unnecessary the additions made by the House.
Committee documents indicate that the Pentagon failed to allow for $231 million it received from Kuwait to cover some of the costs of last summer’s deployment of U.S. forces to the Persian Gulf or the reimbursements it will receive from the United Nations for peacekeeping operations in Somalia, Bosnia and Haiti.
And the Army overstated its costs for its participation in the Haiti peacekeeping effort.
All of the $1.9 billion in new defense spending is offset by cuts in other Pentagon programs, including $300 million cut from environmental cleanup at military bases, $78 million for Apache helicopters, $334 million for research and purchase of the now-canceled Tri-Service Standoff Attack Missile and $247 million for various defense conversion programs.
Although he supported the committee bill, Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, ranking Democrat on the Appropriations defense subcommittee, warned it might bind presidents from ordering troops into battle if the cost would eventually come out of other defense accounts.
``The time will come when we will be putting military readiness in jeopardy,″ Inouye said.
Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., countered that Clinton had committed U.S. forces overseas without seeking congressional approval _ and now he was coming to Congress asking for money to pay for them.
The committee accepted an amendment by Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., that would cut off funding for the Haiti deployment after 60 days unless the president provided a detailed cost accounting of the mission.
Among the domestic cuts recommended by the committee: $107 million from a fund to help business invest in high-risk technologies; $200 million for the Youth Job Training Program; $100 million from the Pell Grant program, which the committee said would have a surplus of that amount; $133 million in highway funds; and $400 million for public housing.
The committee rejected a House proposal to cut $110 million in aid to the former Soviet republics and instead cut the same amount from an African relief fund.