A revamped version of a once-vetoed $299.6 billion defense authorization bill, minus restrictions on the "Star Wars" program, sailed through a House committee Wednesday and headed for quick floor approval.
Congressional defense leaders hoped to speed the pact past both the House and Senate as early as Wednesday, clearing the way for getting it to the White House where President Reagan is expected to sign it.The new version of the bill did not change the overall spending figure or the $4.1 billion earmarked for the Strategic Defense Initiative or "Star Wars" program, but an extra $100 million was added to strategic missile accounts and the financial split between the competing MX and "Midgetman" systems was heavily weighted in favor of the MX.
In as much time as it took Chairman Les Aspin, D-Wis., to make a procedural motion, the House Armed Services Committee endorsed the agreement and sent it to the floor.
Originally, the bill held the SDI program's work on a space-based missile interceptor to just $85 million, but the new agreement lifted that restriction. The administration had wanted to spend $330 million on the item. The administration had sought some $4.9 billion for the entire SDI program.
In addition, the original bill gave the rail-mobile MX missile $250 million, the same amount to the one-warhead, mobile "Midgetman," and $250 million in escrow for the next president to allocate to the missile of his choice.
Under the new version, the Midgetman will get $250 million and the MX will get $600 million, but $350 million of that cannot be spent until at least Feb. 15, and the next president can if he wishes seek permission to shift that money over to the Midgetman.