Defense bill veto looms Administration wants funds for gulf operation

September 12, 1990

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Bush administration is threatening to veto any congressionally approved defense bill that hampers the Persian Gulf operation, which Defense Secretary Richard Cheney says could cost up to $15 billion in the next year.

The Pentagon chief offered the cost estimate yesterday as the House weighed a $283 billion defense budget for fiscal year 1991, which begins Oct. 1, and searched for a way to defray the expense of the U.S. military buildup.

A decision on using the defense bill as a vehicle for a down payment on Operation Desert Shield is contingent on White House and congressional negotiators agreeing on how to cut next year's federal deficit by $50 billion.

House Democrats are considering using money originally earmarked for the Strategic Defense Initiative and a Navy guided-missile destroyer -- a total of just over $1 billion, said congressional sources who requested anonymity.

Previous estimates for the cost of massing more than 100,000 U.S. troops in the gulf region were $1 billion a month.

The defense budget, which the House Armed Services Committee crafted before Iraq's Aug. 2 invasion of Kuwait, would slash nearly $2 billion from President Bush's request for SDI, halt production of the B-2 bomber and reduce U.S. troop strength by 129,500.

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