House Approves Reviving The B-2 Stealth Bomber
The House of Representatives voted Tuesday to revive the B-2 Stealth bomber with a new order for 20 more of the planes despite objections from the Clinton administration and the senior uniformed military.
In a 219-203 vote, the House rejected an amendment that would have removed $553 million for more B-2s from the Republican-backed version of next year’s defense spending bill. If enacted, the bill would provide the down payment on a $15 billion tab for a fleet of 20 more of the radar-evading B-2s.
The vote marked the second defeat for the Clinton administration in the first day of debate on the defense bill. Earlier, the House voted to freeze aid to the former Soviet Union for dismantling nuclear weapons until Russia ends its biological weapons program.
With lobbyists for Northrop Grumman Corp. watching anxiously from the hall outside the House chamber, a coalition of Republicans and Democrats overcame arguments that the B-2 is too expensive. The relatively small amount in the proposed bill could translate into billions for the B-2 manufacturer in years to come and thousands of jobs in Southern California.
Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash., showed a chart indicating that one B-2 bomber with a crew of two could perform a mission that otherwise would require 37 aircraft.
Opponents said the $750 million for each plane is too expensive. Guided weapons fired from outside of enemy territory could save lives and still do the job of the B-2, they said.
Rep. John Kasich, R-Ohio, who with Rep. Ronald Dellums, D-Calif., sponsored the amendment to kill the B-2 funding, recalled top-secret briefings years ago that described the original Cold War mission of the B-2.
“We were going to fly the B-2 into the Soviet Union in the middle of a nuclear war to look for things to bomb,” said Kasich, who chairs the House Budget Committee.
He then listed other opponents of buying more B-2s: the secretary of defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the senior combat generals and admirals who would lead U.S. forces into battle. They all said the 20 B-2s already built or on order would suffice.
Rep. Patricia Schroeder, D-Colo., appeared on the floor with a paper airplane made of dollar bills. “That’s a lot of student loans,” she said of the cost of each new B-2.
The amendment to halt aid to the former Soviet Union under the so-called Nunn-Lugar act until Russia ends development of biological weapons was approved by a 244-180 largely party-line vote.
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