The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said Friday that President Bush's 1991 military budget must be slashed but not as severely as proposed by the Democratic-controlled House Budget Committee.
Sen. Sam Nunn, D-Ga., proposed defense spending of $297 billion for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, $1.5 billion more than the committee approved Thursday."I believe this range is a realistic and responsible target," Nunn said in a speech on the Senate floor.
Nunn proposed limiting spending on the Strategic Defense Initiative to about $4 billion, the amount Congress appropriated for the anti-missile shield last year.
The Armed Services chairman also called for delaying the Pentagon's plans to move the multiple-warhead, MX nuclear missile from fixed silos to railroad cars.
"In the first element of the new military strategy - nuclear deterrence - these and other actions could save on the order of $3 billion to $3.5 billion in fiscal 1991 and between $20 and $30 billion over the next five years," Nunn said.
House Democrats plan to bring their proposed $1.24 trillion 1991 budget to the floor next week in what looms as a test of their plan to begin slashing tens of billions of dollars in military spending.
The House Budget Committee approved the spending package on a 21-14 party-line vote, as majority Democrats dealt a blow to Bush's plans to only slightly trim the defense budget. The action marked the formal beginning of the battle over how federal spending priorities should be reshaped in response to the dismemberment of the Soviet bloc.
"We live in a far different world from the one which we have known for most of our lifetimes," said committee Chairman Leon Panetta, D-Calif.
Nunn's military goals
-Sufficient nuclear forces to deter attack.
-Reduction in troops deployed worldwide.
-Increased emphasis on reserve forces over active duty troops.
-A concept of flexible readiness with high readiness for certain forces that might be needed immediately and lower readiness for other units.
-Greater emphasis on reducing weapons procurement costs while maintaining strong research for technological superiority.