WASHINGTON — Sixteen US House Republicans say they will clear the Pentagon to begin building an East Coast missile shield, and are urging a key colleague to write the check.
The 16 GOP members, in a letter sent last Friday to House Appropriations defense subcommittee Chairman Rep. Bill Young, R-Fla., revealed they will authorize the Pentagon to spend up to $250 million in 2014 on the proposed, but controversial, system.
House Armed Services Committee Republicans hatched the idea for the East Coast site during that panel’s work on its version of the 2013 defense authorization bill. The compromise version of the bill, enacted late last year, ordered the Pentagon to conduct an environmental study but stopped short of approving or funding the establishment of such a site.
But the letter reveals the HASC’s 2014 authorization bill will include language clearing the Pentagon to spend $250 million on things like “site design, missile complex development and installation of hardware and software, and GBI funding procurement for the site and the 20 ground-based interceptors.”
The 16 GOP members want Young to include “a similar action” in the 2014 defense appropriations bill his subcommittee is crafting.
The 2013 House plan died in the Senate Armed Services Committee. Republicans control the HASC and the entire lower chamber, with Democrats in control of the bill-writing committees in the Senate and the entire upper chamber.
That means another political fight is all but ensured over the GOP plan.
“The recent North Korean and Iranian threats to the United States and our allies further demonstrate the need for this Administration to take aggressive steps to modernize and increase the nation’s missile defense systems,” the 16 Republicans wrote to Young. “Now is not the time for the [Obama] administration to disregard nuclear threats and further delay the development of necessary missile defense capabilities.”
But Democrats and the White House say the East Coast site is not needed.
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., said repeatedly last year that spending hundreds of millions of dollars, at the least, on an East Coast site for which the Pentagon has no existing requirement would be unwise and a waste of money.