The Republican chairman of the House Armed Services Committee wants to slash nearly all spending for the Pentagon's troubled $2.7-billion program to use radar-carrying blimps to search for enemy missiles approaching the East Coast.
Budget-related documents made public Friday show that Rep.
If the deep cuts are kept, the program would not have the money Pentagon officials say is necessary for the blimps to resume their mission over Washington and surrounding areas from a base at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.
Senate leaders also signaled they were unlikely to approve the president's request for $45.5 million for JLENS in the next fiscal year.
Congressional support for the Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System has collapsed since a high-profile mishap Oct. 28.
One of the pilotless, 242-foot-long blimps broke loose from a ground mooring and soared north for several hours into Pennsylvania before it came down. The runaway blimp disrupted air traffic, clipped utility lines with its mile-long tether and forced authorities to scramble fighter jets to track it.
The spectacle was covered live on national television and became fodder for ridicule on Twitter from figures as disparate as Sen.
The Army's "operational exercise"' with JLENS at Aberdeen was suspended indefinitely after the incident.
Thornberry's request for $2.5 million marks a turnabout for the chairman, who supported JLENS as recently as last November.
"Let's hope it stays dead," Speier said in a statement. She urged Congress to put "this money to use protecting our nation, rather than sending it to float away on a path of destruction from Maryland to Pennsylvania.''