NATION : Rep. Cheney Tells Senate He Is Skeptical About Soviet Reforms

From Times staff and wire service reports

Defense Secretary-designate Dick Cheney said today he was skeptical about Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev’s ability to carry out economic reforms and warned Congress against unilateral cuts in U.S. defense.

“I think it’s very important that we not fall into the trap of having to respond to the offer of the week,” Cheney told the Senate Armed Services Committee in discussing Gorbachev’s promises to unilaterally reduce Soviet military forces.

Cheney, 48, testified as the committee opened hearings on his confirmation as President Bush’s nominee to head the Pentagon after the Senate last week rejected John Tower for the job in a bitter partisan fight.