The U.S. Senate is nearing final
approval of a $400 billion budget for the Defense Department. President Bush
is expected to sign the measure into law. The defense authorization bill is a
compromise between House and Senate-passed versions of the legislation.
The measure, which is $7 billion more than last year's defense authorization
funding, will pay for salaries for U.S. troops, research and development, construction
and other military operations for the budget year that began October 1.
"This conference report contains much-deserved pay raises and benefits for
our military personnel and their families, much-needed increases in family
housing and quality of life projects on military installations," says Republican
Senator John Warner of Virginia, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committeeas. "As
well as prudent investments in equipment and technology our military needs
to successfully counter future threats."
Among the compromises in the bill is one calling for the Air Force to lease
20 Boeing airplanes as midair refueling tankers, and buy 80 more. Some Senators
had criticized the Defense Department's initial proposal to lease all 100 planes
as too expensive.
Another compromise concerned a House-passed provision that would have restricted
the Defense Department's ability to buy equipment, parts and services from
other nations. The provision angered U.S. allies and was opposed by the Pentagon.
The final deal creates a fund to ensure that the U.S. industrial base can
manufacture all critical military components. It also calls on the Pentagon
to determine whether any countries have refused to deliver military supplies
because they objected to U.S. counter-terrorism or military operations, and
if so, to stop buying from them. In addition, the bill includes incentives
to encourage defense contractors to use U.S. machine tools.
The authorization does not include the $87 billion spending bill signed last
week by President Bush for operations and reconstruction in Afghanistan and