The House Armed Services Committee followed its Senate counterpart yesterday by approving almost as much money as President Reagan had requested for weaponry. But it recommended spending it in different ways, assuring a fight in hammering out a compromise.
Chairman Melvin Price (D-Ill.) said the House committee voted 39 to 3 to authorize $180 billion to develop and produce weaponry in fiscal 1983, a cut of about $3 billion in Reagan's request.
Unlike the Senate committee, the House panel approved the full $252 million Reagan requested to start expanding the nation's civil defense program designed to protect Americans against nuclear attack.
In another difference, the House committee did not duplicate its Senate counterpart's refusal of money to base the MX temporarily in Minuteman silos. The House group approved $262 million of the $564.4 million the administration requested for interim MX basing and voted $882 million to buy the first batch of those missiles on schedule.
However, the House committee, in denying $467 million for anti-ballistic-missile research, shared the Senate's impatience with the administration's long search for a way to base the MX. Price said the committee was unwilling to go along with accelerating a low-altitude defense system "for a yet-to-be-defined basing mode."
The House committee also refused to follow the Senate panel's lead in denying money for the Army AH64 attack helicopter.
In the belief that the Pentagon is betting on the wrong technology for perfecting laser weapons, the House panel demanded what Price called "a complete reorientation" of the high-energy laser program from long-wave chemical lasers to short-wave high-energy lasers.
The House committee majority beat back attempts to delete money for the B1 bomber and the two nuclear-powered aircraft carriers the Navy intends to buy with fiscal 1983 money.
In a related development, the Congressional Budget Office said yesterday that the Navy, to reach its goal of a 600-ship fleet by 1990, would have to spend about $25 billion a year, or about one-third more than the $18.6 billion Reagan is requesting for shipbuilding in fiscal 1983.