Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

House Rejects Push to Revive Star Wars Several Republicans Vote with Democrats

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

House Rejects Push to Revive Star Wars Several Republicans Vote with Democrats

Article excerpt

House Republicans, launching a drive Wednesday to revamp the nation's military policy, suffered a setback in their effort to resurrect the "Star Wars" missile-defense system.

Despite pleas by pro-defense Republicans that the nation needed a shield to protect against missile attacks from "terrorist" states, the House voted 218-212 to keep the GOP leaders' Star Wars approach on ice.

In response to an amendment by Rep. John Spratt, D-S.C., several Republicans, led by Reps. Jim Leach of Iowa and John Kasich of Ohio, voted with the Democrats to hold missile-defense spending to current levels. The existing plan would spend about $400 million a year to develop a system providing limited protection against attacks in particular theaters of operation.

Spratt's amendment said the missile defense program should be dropped down on a list of priorities for defense spending. The amendment also said any such missile defense system should be ground-based rather than in orbit like the Star Wars program begun under President Ronald Reagan.

The Star Wars program was a centerpiece of the first military-operations bill advanced by the new GOP majority. Disgusted by U.N. peacekeeping missions, the GOP also is seeking to bar U.S. forces from operating under foreign command, and to limit the amount that the United States could contribute to the United Nations' peacekeeping budget.

While Wednesday's vote on Spratt's amendment dealt a surprising defeat to pro-defense Republicans, the overall bill, which is part of the House Republicans' Contract with America, is expected to be approved largely intact in a vote today.

And GOP leaders will get another chance to turn around their colleagues when the House debates defense policy and spending bills later in the year. But the vote sent a clear warning that the House is prepared to approach defense spending with a sharp pencil.

In the vote, all Missouri and Southern Illinois congressmen voted along party lines.

Nationally, moderate Republicans such as Reps. Leach and Connie Morella of Maryland were unconvinced that there was any pressing strategic need to spend so much money for a missile-defense system, especially after the destruction of the former Soviet Union's intercontinental missiles. …

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