The House approved a 1991 military spending bill Friday that would cut off production of B-2 Stealth bombers at 15 planes and slash President Bush's budget request for the Strategic Defense Initiative.
By a vote of 322-97, lawmakers adopted the overall package that gives $268 billion to defense, including a $5.3 billion addition the House Appropriations Committee tacked on this week to meet the revised budget levels approved by Congress.Overwhelming support for the bill came despite White House statements that Bush would veto the legislation because of wholesale cuts in strategic weapons.
A total of 132 Republicans joined with 190 Democrats in voting for the legislation while 39 Republicans and 58 Democrats opposed the bill.
Following House approval in September of a defense authorization bill that sets spending ceilings, the legislation cuts Bush's proposal for SDI to $2.3 billion in the fiscal year which began Oct. 1. He had requested $4.7 billion.
The appropriations bill also stops production of the B-2 Stealth bomber at the 15 aircraft under construction and provides no production money for the Pentagon's plan to place MX nuclear missiles on railroad cars.
Instead, the bill creates a strategic pot of $618 million for the MX and Midgetman land-based missiles.
The spending blueprint also provides $403 million for the V-22 Osprey despite Defense Secretary Dick Cheney's second attempt in two years to kill the tilt-rotor aircraft.
The spending plan calls for a cut of 77,000 U.S. troops worldwide. The Bush administration has proposed a cut of 38,000 from the active duty troop total of 2.1 million.
The Senate is expected to take up its version of the appropriations bill next week. The package approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee late Thursday is markedly different from the House-approved legislation.
The Senate-committee bill trims about $1 billion from Bush's budget request for SDI, funds the president's request for the B-2 bomber and cuts U.S. troop strength by 100,000.