THE HOUSE : To Change Defense Bill

By a vote of 156 to 254, the House rejected a conservative-led attempt to soften military personnel cuts and increase from 180 to 360 days the maximum active duty time for reservists. This occurred as the House sent to conference with the Senate the Pentagon’s first post-Cold War budget, a $283-billion fiscal 1991 spending bill that is $24 billion under President Bush’s request.

The current uniformed personnel ceiling is 1.9 million. This motion sought to lower it by about 101,500 troops, not 130,000 as recommended by the Democratic-led Armed Services Committee. Bush wants a cut of 38,000 troops.

The longer deployment of reservists would have permitted reserve combat units to be sent to the Persian Gulf. The Pentagon finds the present 180-day limit not long enough to justify combat roles for reservists, given how long it takes to put them in place.

Supporter Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) said Army personnel should not be deeply cut while “the Army is the primary provider of troop strength in Saudi Arabia.”


Beverly B. Byron (D-Md.) said the Persian Gulf crisis should not be used “as an excuse to backslide” on needed personnel cuts.

A yes vote was to soften military personnel cuts and double the active duty time for reservists. How They Voted: Rep. Beilenson (D): Yea Rep. Berman (D): Nay Rep. Dixon (D): Nay Rep. Levine (D): Nay Rep. Waxman (D): Nay

To Cut SDI Funding The House voted, 225 to 189, to lower Strategic Defense Initiative funding to a maintenance level of $2.3 billion for fiscal 1991, about half of President Bush’s request for the proposedspace-based defense against incoming missiles. The vote occurred during debate on the 1991 Pentagon budget.

Sponsor Tom Ridge (R-Pa.) said: “The SDI mission continues to evolve--the leakproof shield is history and now we are only discussing enhanced deterrence.”


Opponent Robert K. Dornan (R-Garden Grove) asked why SDI backers “have to keep promising members that if New York disappears off the face of the map with some Saddam Hussein bomb, we are not supposed to say to you, ‘We told you so.”’

A yes vote was to cut SDI spending to a maintenance level. How They Voted: Rep. Beilenson (D): Yea Rep. Berman (D): Yea Rep. Dixon (D): Yea Rep. Levine (D): Yea Rep. Waxman (D): Yea

Abortion Issue By a vote of 200 to 216, the House rejected an amendment permitting women in the military or who are dependents to receive an abortion at military facilities abroad if they pay for it. The amendment to the 1991 defense bill (above) sought to lift a Department of Defense ban on such abortions.

Sponsor Vic Fazio (D-Sacramento) said the amendment would ensure decent medical care for women defending freedom “in the Persian Gulf and elsewhere throughout the world.”

Opponent Barbara F. Vucanovich (R-Nev.) said the amendment would lead to “abortion on demand at any overseas (military) installation.”

A yes vote was to permit privately financed abortions at military hospitals abroad. How They Voted: Rep. Beilenson (D): Yea Rep. Berman (D): Yea Rep. Dixon (D): Yea Rep. Levine (D): Yea Rep. Waxman (D): Yea