December 9, 1995
Web posted at: 11 p.m. EST
From Correspondent Carl Rochelle
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Christmas came early to the Pentagon when Congress sanctioned a $243 billion dollar defense budget, giving the agency $7 billion more than President Clinton had proposed.
At the same time, Congress was slashing money from welfare and education, and proposing to cut $163 billion over seven years in Medicaid -- a program meant for children under 13, the disabled, and low-income pregnant women.
Rep. Patricia Schroeder, D-Colorado, said she was astounded. "In this Congress, people who are so outraged about waste and buying things we don't need put on total blinders when it comes to the defense side of the budget."
While Republicans dominate the Congress, the bill was supported by some Democrats, who said it is cheaper to buy now than later.
"This is the Republican budget," said Rep. Norman Dicks, D-Washington. "They believe strongly that defense should be increased. I voted for it because I believe there is a need."
Despite White House and Pentagon opposition, nearly $2.5 billion of the additional money will go for more B-2 bombers, a Marine Corps helicopter carrier and a smaller ship to ferry heavy combat equipment. The budget carries money for a dozen more F-16s and F-18s, and for many more military goodies.
Schroeder called the measure "nothing but a jobs program." "We are going to deploy star wars, (but) against whom at the moment?"
The White House resisted the bill almost to the end. President Clinton did not sign it, but because he did not veto it either, it became law.
Rep. Dicks said he thinks Clinton had no choice, mainly because Congress can refuse to approve funds for U.S. troops in war zones abroad, as it did during the Vietnam war.
Many lawmakers believe that if Clinton had vetoed the defense budget bill, he would have killed any chance of getting Congress to approve the Bosnia deployment.
The bill itself doesn't contain funds earmarked for Bosnia operations, but President Clinton can use some of the excess money without congressional approval.
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