Missile Defense Funding Eases through Congress

Article excerpt

In defense appropriation bills passed separately by the Senate and House of Representatives in July, lawmakers essentially matched the Bush administration's earlier $9.1 billion missile defense budget request for fiscal year 2004.

The Republican-controlled Congress gave the Pentagon more than it requested for programs that might yield specific systems in the near term but shaved and shifted funding away from futuristic concepts or programs that legislators said were ill-defined.

Both houses of Congress added money to support the development and deployment of the strategic ground-based midcourse system, the initial elements of which the Pentagon plans to field next year. The Senate added $231 million, while the House approved about $16 million in extra funding.

The largest boost in funding by the House was $90 million for buying more Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) interceptors to counter short- and medium-range ballistic missiles. The Senate did not copy the House's action. Instead, senators approved an increase of the same amount for the U.S.-Israeli Arrow system, which has a similar mission as the PAC-3 system.

The two bodies further disagreed over who should be in charge of future research and development of the PAC-3 system, as well as a joint project with Germany and Italy based on the PAC-3 interceptor. …