House and Senate negotiators have agreed to a $3.1 billion supplemental defense spending bill with a warning that the extra money won't finance more military missions indefinitely.
Money in the supplemental appropriation is to replenish accounts drained by deployments to Haiti, Somalia and elsewhere. The full House and Senate are expected to vote this week.The measure includes $2.71 billion in new Pentagon spending from the Treasury plus $360 million in reimbursements for last year's deployment to Kuwait. Apart from the Kuwaiti reimbursements, virtually all of the spending is offset by cuts in lower priority defense and energy accounts.
President Clinton had asked for $2.56 billion to cover the costs accumulating last year and this year for deployments to Somalia, Rwanda, Bosnia, the Persian Gulf, Korea, Haiti and Cuba. While the Senate had proposed $1.9 billion, the negotiators settled on a version of the bill only slightly below the original House proposal.
In addition to offsetting various readiness accounts drained by the foreign deployments, the bill approved by the negotiators adds $249 million to cover a military pay raise, $253 million to protect overseas-deployed personnel from currency fluctuations and $50 million to increase Navy flying hours.
On another matter, the Clinton administration said Thursday it will appeal a federal judge's ruling that its "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays in the military is unconstitutional.
Solicitor General Drew Days has decided to take the case to the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, Justice Department spokes-man Joe Krovisky announced in Washington.
A week ago, U.S. District Judge Eugene Nickerson in New York, barred the Pentagon from discharging six homosexuals. The judge said the policy is "nothing short of Orwellian" because it equates sexual orientation with misconduct.
"To presume from a person's status that he or she will commit undesirable acts is an extreme measure," he wrote. "Hitler taught the world what could happen when the government began to target people not for what they had done but because of their status."