Lawmakers warn Clinton: Boost Defense technology funding or else

Close to 100 members of Congress joined a bipartisan coalition urging President Clinton to boost funding for Defense Department science programs, warning him in a letter that "the continued long-term erosion of defense science and technology will have a devastating impact on the future capability of the armed forces of the United States.''

The coalition, organized by senators Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) and Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and representatives Tony Hall (D-Ohio) and Sherwood Boehlert (R-N.Y.), said in their letter that "projected levels of spending are insufficient to ensure that the defense technology base remains strong and capable of providing the necessary foundation for the national defense.'' A total of 20 senators and 76 House of Representatives members signed the letter, which also urged Clinton to increase spending on defense research by at least 2 percent in his fiscal 2001 budget.

DOD science and technology spending would decline by 25 percent from $9.8 billion in 1993 to $7.4 billion in the Pentagon's fiscal 2000 budget awaiting Clinton's signature. In passing the bill last week, Congress set DOD science and technology spending at $8.4 billion, 14.4 percent above the President's budget request.

Hall said he found the decline in the Air Force research budget "particularly disturbing because it was high-technology Air Force weapons that were responsible for our stunning victories in Kosovo and the Persian Gulf.'' The president's 1999 budget called for an Air Force research budget of $1.2 billion—56 percent lower than the $2.7 billion the Air Force spent on science and technology in 1989.

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