WASHINGTON — The first portion of a major Pentagon policy bill unveiled Tuesday by a key House committee excludes any mention of a controversial East Coast missile shield proposal.
House Armed Services Committee Republicans announced several weeks ago they would include in the panel’s version of the 2014 defense authorization bill a provision clearing the Defense Department to spend up to $250 million on construction of the proposed site. And they’ve urged top House appropriators to write a check for around the same amount.
Some congressional Democrats have even started talking as if the proposal, killed last year by skeptical Senate Democrats, likely will eventually become reality.
Yet, the portion of the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) released late Tuesday morning by the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee contains nary a mention of an East Coast missile shield, according to a reporter’s scan of the legislation and several electronic searches.
Nor does the subcommittee’s piece of the NDAA, which will be marked up Wednesday morning in a public hearing, mention the expected provision green-lighting DoD to spend $250 million next year on the East Coast system.
“Without speaking specifically to the East Coast site, it is not uncommon [that] issues that are controversial, cross subcommittee jurisdictions, or require funding shifts are deferred to full committee,” HASC spokesman Claude Chafin said in an email.
House and Senate Republicans say the new site is needed to protect population centers in the eastern United States as Iran and North Korea continue long-range missile work. Some GOP members also say allegedly increasingly sophisticated Chinese naval vessels equipped with ballistic missiles could launch against the East Coast.
But Democrats, especially influential ones such as Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., counter that the Pentagon has no requirement for such a site.
Levin and other Democrats also say the lack of a DoD requirement, when coupled with the billions it would take to erect the site, stock it with interceptor missiles, and operate and maintain it make it a highly questionable federal expenditure in an era of deficit-reduction.