The former staff director of the House Armed Services Committee, defense contractors, stell companies and the Air National Guard are allied in behind-the-scenes effort to keep a defense money bill intact when it comes up today in the House.
Their mutual opponent is Rep. Bob Carr (D-Mich.), who will ask his colleagues to throw out the entire Pentagon money bill as enlarged by the Armed Service Committee and substitute a measure closer to the one President Carter recommended to Congress.
Frank M. Slatinshek, former staff director of the Armed Services Committee and now a registered lobbyist for Grumman Aerospace, United Technologies and General Dynamics, said last night he has "talked to a number of people" about the Carr substitute.
Slatinshek declined to specify, but said they were both inside and outside government. "I was simple saying what I feel strongly," not representing any defense contractor, he said. Passing the Carr substitute would amount to writing a defense bill on the House floor, which would have "long term adverse effects," he said.
One of Slatinshek's clients, Grumman, could lose millions of dollars if the Carr substitute should pass. The House committee added $200 million to buy more Grumman F14 fighter planes than the President is requesting in his fiscal 1979 defense budget.
Carr said Slatinshek, by working for defense contractors right after running the House committee, president "a prime example of the revolving door. People are going to merchandise what they know."
The Congressman said further that Grumman's Washington manager, Gordon H. Ochenrider, told Carr's aide, Robert Sherman, that if Rep. Thomas Downey (D-N.Y.) voted for the Car substitute, even if the extra F14 money were put in that bill, "It would cost him 20,000 votes" in his Long Island district.
"I'm not that stupid" to make such a threat, said Ochenrider in denying the allegation yesterday. He said Grumman has 20,000 employes and he was just expressing his personal view that it would not be in Downey's interest to back the substitute.
LTV, Lockheed, Newport News Shipbuilding and Northrop are among other contractors that stand to get millions beyond what Carter recommended if the committee bill remains intact.
Carr charges that the committee, which he is a junior member, "ran amok" making additions during the secret markup of the bill.
The provision that has rallied the steel compaines directs the Pentagon to buy specialty metals, including stainless steel flatware, from U.S. rather than foreign manufacturers, except in special circumstances.
"On behalf of the American steel industry," said a letter to House members yesterday from the American Iron and Steel Institute," "please vote against the Carr substitute" and "any efforts" to deletet he specialty metals protection.
Officers of the Air National Guard, Carr said, have for days been phoning House members, including himself. The committee bill expands on the one submitted by the Commander-in-Chief, President Carter, by adding $286 million for Air National Guard aircraft.
Although the "Dear Colleague" letters and lobbyist mail in congressional offices indicate that Carr's opponents are more heavily armed than his defenders, an "alert" sent out by Members of Congress for Peace Through Law said Carr and his allies have mounted "the first well-coordinated challenge in several years to the House Armed Services military procurement bill."
The flyer said the Carr substitute would "achieve on the House floor what could not be achieved in committee: a rational and cost-conscious approach to the military budget."
Carr acknowledged last night that it is an uphill fight, but said he hopes it will at least deter the Armed Services Committee from loading up next year's defense bill "like a Christmas tree."