Missile Defense Measure Shot Down Gop Effort To Spur Pentagon To Move Ahead With Developing System Dropped From Bill
In a victory for President Clinton, the House rejected a Republican proposal Wednesday night designed to force the administration to move ahead with a national missile defense system.
With a 218-212 vote, the House dropped the missile defense language from a bill pushed by its GOP leadership as part of the Republican “Contract With America.”
The vote was on an amendment by Rep. John Spratt Jr., D-S.C., that said improving the readiness of U.S. forces and developing a defense against shorter range missiles should have a higher priority.
Spratt’s amendment dropped a defense system for intercontinental missiles from the top priority in the defense-foreign policy portion of the House Republicans’ so-called contract to third in a list of priorities.
The amendment also said any such missile defense system should be ground-based rather than in orbit like the “Star Wars” program begun during the Reagan administration.
A subsequent effort to direct the Pentagon not to consider a spacebased system was defeated.
Twenty-four Republicans joined Democrats in supporting Spratt’s amendment. They included John Kasich of Ohio, chairman of the House Budget Committee; Rep. Jim Leach of Iowa, chairman of the Banking Committee, and Rep. Ralph Regula of Ohio, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee.
Many of the Republican opponents have expressed concern over the potential cost of an accelerated missile defense program.
The bill also contained provisions setting a GOP stamp on policies toward U.N. peacekeeping, NATO expansion and command and control of U.S. forces.
In opposing the bill, Clinton said it “represents an assault on the authority of the president.”
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