The House overwhelmingly approved legislation on Thursday that would trim $5.8 billion from this year's budget while preserving one of two planned Seawolf submarines that President Bush wants scrapped.
The measure, approved on a 412-2 tally, could lead the way to a compromise between Bush and Congress in their fight over the sophisticated attack submarines. The Senate passed a bill Wednesday that would allow both craft to be built, prompting a veto threat from Bush.
The two chambers will have to reach a compromise before sending a measure to Bush.
The House bill focuses heavily on defense reductions but chops elsewhere as well.
Most contentious has been Bush's call to save $3 billion by not building two more Seawolf submarines, beyond one already under construction. Bush says the sophisticated craft are no longer needed because of the faded Soviet military threat.
Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), who chairs the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, told reporters that he believed the Administration would allow one more Seawolf to be built.
Instead of blocking construction of the two Seawolfs, the Senate bill contains cuts of $1 billion in the B-2 Stealth bomber and $1.3 billion in antimissile research. The House bill has no such reductions.
Bush touched off the election-year fight over budget cutting in March when he began asking Congress to cut various projects, many of them in the districts of particular lawmakers. He has sought $7.9 billion in reductions so far.