The Senate passed a bill Wednesday sponsored by Sen. Jake Garn, R-Utah, to extend for three years the Defense Production Act, which will allow continued support of critical supplies for Operation Desert Shield in the Persian Gulf.

Garn, who recently returned from Saudi Arabia, said the bill will extend the president's authority to assign priority to U.S. government contracts for national security purposes.He said that in the current crisis, the bill will help ensure the delivery of missile-shipping containers; radio and amplifier systems for satellite communications; lap-top computers for front-line use; and electronic defense countermeasure pods for Navy and Air Force use.

"It would be the height of irresponsibility on the part of Congress to permit these vital authorities to lapse in a crisis situation," Garn said.

Garn also added to the bill his "Fair Trade in Financial Services Act," which would give the Treasury Department more power to open up foreign markets for U.S. financial service companies and fight discrimination against them abroad.

"There is absolutely no reason why American firms cannot compete successfully in foreign markets," he said.

"This provision of the legislation will remove unfair restrictions and level the playing field in the world's financial markets to end the discrimination that has weakened our position in world markets," he said.

Garn is the ranking Republican on the Senate Banking Committee and has pushed his Fair Trade in Financial Services Act with Committee Chairman Donald Riegle, D-Mich.

The bill now goes to a conference to work out differences in versions passed by the House and Senate.