Stevens not concerned about missile defense construction funding fight

Posted: Sunday, July 29, 2001

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Sen. Ted Stevens says he won't fight Democratic attempts to stop military construction money from being spent on missile defense work at Fort Greely this summer.

He'll just try to get the money from a different pot, he said.

Stevens said Thursday he isn't concerned ''so far'' about a letter from Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California and several Democrats from the House. The letter questioned whether the Defense Department could spend $9 million on land clearing, road building and well drilling at Fort Greely.

Feinstein is chairwoman of the Military Construction Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

''We're not going to argue with that,'' Stevens said. The money, he explained, was originally provided in last year's military construction spending bill. But expenditure of that money was always contingent upon a presidential decision to proceed with actual deployment of a national missile defense system, he said.

President Clinton decided Sept. 1 not to deploy the system, and President Bush has not yet made a decision on deployment.

Stevens said he thinks the clearing and other work can instead be funded using the research money that Congress approved for the current fiscal year. He said he thinks there is enough money left to do so.

''In view of the decision that was brought about by President Clinton, we are still in a research and development mode,'' Stevens said.

The Fort Greely money was part of a larger package in the military construction spending bill approved last year.

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