The House passed a $291 billion defense budget for fiscal 1992, but the Democratic-written package faces a veto because it kills off the B-2 Stealth bomber and cuts deeply into the Strategic Defense Initiative missile defense effort.

The bill - which also allows the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps to make their own decisions on whether to let women fly combat missions - won final approval on a 268-161 vote Wednesday after just three days on the House floor, the quickest journey through the House for a defense-spending bill in recent years.The heavy "no" vote came chiefly from Republicans like Rep. Bill Dickinson, R-Ala., the senior Republican on the committee, who protested it was "not for a strong defense; it is for a weaker defense."

Final passage came following the handling of a variety of lesser amendments, ones in which the chamber refused to expand the scope of the SDI's short-range missile defense program and refused to make the Pentagon test its workers for drugs.