House slashes 'star wars' funds by over half


WASHINGTON -- In a stiff challenge to the Pentagon's goal of building a "star wars" missile shield, the House yesterday slashed President Bush's $4.7 billion request for the program by more than half, to $2.3 billion.

The 225-189 vote sent a clear signal to the Pentagon that support for the Strategic Defense Initiative, waning since President Ronald Reagan left office nearly two years ago, has begun to plummet.

Among Maryland's six Democratic representatives, Benjamin L. Cardin, Steny H. Hoyer, Tom McMillen and Kweisi Mfume voted for the measure, whild Beverly B. Byron and Roy P. Dyson voted against it. Maryland's two Republicans split on the measure: Constance A. Morella voted for the bill and Helen Delich Bentley voted against it.

The House took the action during its week-long debate on a $283 billion defense authorization bill. Final passage of the bill is expected today, after which House and Senate negotiators will begin ironing out conflicts between their two bills.

"This figure, comprised with their figure, would give us $3 billion," Representative Charles E. Bennett, D-Fla., said of the $2.3 billion total. The Senate recently approved spending $3.7 billion on SDI for 1991.

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