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HOUSE PASSES DEFENSE BILL FAVORABLE TO UTAH

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The House passed a defense bill Thursday that bans missile tests over Canyonlands National Park, provides millions for Utah military projects and makes changes that may help keep Hill Air Force Base open.

But Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah, a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, voted against it anyway - even though he had added many of the Utah provisions."This bill continues the Clinton tear-down and gutting of our nation's defense capabilities. In good conscience, I cannot support this defense budget which is quickly returning to the days of the hollow force," Hansen said.

He complained the bill funnels $10 billion to nondefense agencies, underfunds the Pentagon's "bottom-up" review by $50 billion over three years and makes other large cuts while problems are brewing in North Korea, Bosnia and Haiti.

"It is this type of budget that will force massive base closures in 1995 or beyond," Hansen said. Hill Air Force Base - Utah's single largest employer - is at risk.

Hansen fought at the committee level to include several provisions designed to help Hill survive, including allowing it to lease out excess space to help make it more cost efficient.

He and allies also included language requiring that no less than 60 percent of repair and maintenance work be performed at depots like Hill. The Pentagon had proposed turning over most such work to private industry.

Other Hansen provisions in the bill included authorization for $11.4 million for more housing at Hill; $400,000 for a de-icing facility for the Air National Guard at Salt Lake International Airport; $10 million for the Russian-American Observational Satellites Program, being developed out of Utah State University; and $1.5 million to keep Air Force-owned Plant 78 at Thiokol Corp. open for rocket motor storage.

Rep. Karen Shepherd, D-Utah, also had two major provisions in the bill to prevent Utah missile launches that would drop 1,100-pound boosters on public lands near Canyonlands, and to prevent shipping chemical arms from other states to Utah for disposal.

"Testing missiles over Canyonlands and transporting chemical weapons over our highways places too great a risk on Utah's citizens, and it's time to draw a line in the sand," she said.

The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration. It passed the House on a 260-158 vote.