Trident II missiles survive battle in Congress House rejects bid to cut Lockheed Martin funding

THE BALTIMORE SUN

WASHINGTON -- Lockheed Martin Corp.'s Trident II nuclear missile survived an effort yesterday by a Minnesota Congressman to end its production.

During debate on its version of the defense budget for fiscal 1998, the House of Representatives rejected an amendment from Minnesota Democrat Rep. William Luther that would remove $309.1 million in the bill for seven of the Trident II submarine-launched intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin, America's largest aerospace company, makes the missiles in Sunnyvale, Calif.

"Each and every government program must be scrutinized," said Minnesota Republican Rep. Jim Ramstad, who supported the amendment. "We cannot afford to continue increasing the size of this missile force, nor do we need to."

Rep. Duncan Hunter, a California Republican, countered that the "amendment is not grounded in common sense. The most survivable part of our [nuclear force] is undersea."

Luther's amendment lost by a vote of 145-253, and the company's stock rose $2.25 to $98.50.

The Senate's version of the defense budget for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1 includes the same total for the missile.

The Clinton administration requested the funding for the U.S. Navy's effort to buy more than 80 additional Trident IIs during the next decade. Those would go on existing submarines carrying older missiles. The Navy already owns about 350 of the missiles.

The House and Senate have begun debating their versions of the budget bills, each of which recommends about $268.2 billion in total defense funding, $2.9 billion more than the president requested.

Neither chamber of the Congress has settled the most contentious issues to emerge from their committees' initial work on the defense bills. Early next week, the House is expected to debate the future of Northrop Grumman Corp.'s B-2 bomber and U.S. Air Force depots in California and Texas. The fate of those depots is also to be considered by the Senate.

Pub Date: 6/21/97

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