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House cuts defense, pushes aid for cities.

The House of Representatives last week sharply cut President Bush's defense spending plans and blueprints and called instead for much greater federal deficit reduction and a $1 billion economic conversion plan for American communities.

As The Weekly went to press, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Les Aspin (D-Wisc.) and Rep. Martin Frost's (D-Tex.) task force on economic conversion were still working with the House leadership on a possible $3 billion additional economic conversion plan for distressed urban areas.

The House hoped to complete action on the bill, HR 5006, the 1993 Defense Authorization Act, and send it to the Senate late Friday after the Weekly went to press. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) intends to take up the Senate version as early as next week.

In action on Wednesday, the House voted to cut defense spending by at least $3.5 billion next year and $8 billion over the next few years by a 40 percent reduction in the number of U.S. troops stationed overseas and by requiring Europe and South Korea to pay 70 percent of the costs of American troops stationed in those countries--the same as Japan pays.

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who successfully offered the deficit cutting amendment, said: "This country, many, many months after the total collapse of the communist threat, continues to spend tens of billions of dollars every year to protect our wealthy allies from a threat that no longer exists."

On Wednesday, Aspin released his proposed $1 billion economic conversion plan to assist communities hit by plant and base closings affected by military cutbacks. The package would expand economic adjustment assistance to states and local governments by $100 million next year, provide for cost-free transfer of supplies to cities and towns, expand training and employment services, and significantly increase training and funding for environmental cleanup grants.

The Aspin economic conversion package would all be funded out of defense spending, so that it would not force offsetting cuts in other federal domestic programs going to cities under the 1990 budget agreement.

The administration has threatened to veto the bill unless defense spending is increased and the economic conversion proposal is dropped.
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Author:Shafroth, Frank
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Jun 8, 1992
Words:361
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