Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Defense Budget Passes House Oks Spending $263 Billion, Endorses Policy on Gays in Service

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Defense Budget Passes House Oks Spending $263 Billion, Endorses Policy on Gays in Service

Article excerpt

The House approved a $263 billion defense budget Wednesday that codifies a restrictive policy on homosexuals in the military and reflects congressional frustration with the U.S. role in Somalia.

By a 268-162 vote, House members adopted an overall package for next year that is $571 million less than President Bill Clinton sought in his first military budget. The package is also $12 billion less than this year, as the post-Cold War trend of cutting defense spending continues.

Missouri Democrats William L. Clay, Richard A. Gephardt, Pat Danner, Ike Skelton, Harold L. Volkmer and Alan Wheat all voted to adopt the budget. Republicans Bill Emerson and Mel Hancock rejected the measure, and James M. Talent voted for it.

Illinois Democrats Jerry F. Costello, Richard J. Durbin and Glenn Poshard voted for adoption.

The bill writes into law a policy that prohibits open homosexuals from serving in the armed services, branding them an "unacceptable risk" to morale, good order and discipline.

Clinton announced a compromise plan July 19 that ended the practice of questioning recruits and service members about their sexual orientation but allowed the military to continue to discharge homosexuals.

Senate Armed Services Chairman Sam Nunn, D-Ga., a leading opponent of ending the ban outright, wrote a policy that continues the practice of not questioning about orientation but allows a future defense secretary to reinstate it.

The House adopted the Senate policy Tuesday. Final congressional approval of the budget and Clinton's signature will make the policy on gays law, superseding the president's own directive.

Exasperated with continued U.S. military involvement in Somalia, the House joined the Senate in approving a nonbinding resolution asking the president to report by Oct. 15 on the goals of the Somalian operation. The resolution also urged Clinton to seek congressional authorization by Nov. …

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