House Panel Axes Defense Conversion

TIMES STAFF WRITER

House Republicans moved Friday to kill a controversial defense-conversion program that President Clinton had hailed as essential to maintaining the nation's technological edge.

The House Appropriations Committee, in keeping with the budget-cutting mood of the Republican-controlled Congress, voted along party lines to withdraw $425 million in funding for the Technology Reinvestment Program that had already been approved by Congress for the current fiscal year, as well as $77 million in funds left over from fiscal 1994.

The program, whose budget had mushroomed 500% in two years, makes grants for the commercialization of defense technologies.

Although Pentagon officials decried Friday's vote, saying it will hurt research and development, the program is given little chance of a reprieve when it comes before the full House.

The cutbacks would be a blow to California, whose defense and high-technology firms have won about one of every five dollars spent by the TRP program.

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