The House Armed Services Committee, reversing itself on several issues in closed session yesterday, voted to give military personnel a 3 percent pay raise and to restore some funds for "Star Wars" and other administration proposals in the fiscal 1987 defense budget.
The actions, reported by committee Chairman Les Aspin (D-Wis.), are part of a massive numbers-juggling act in which Congress is attempting to reconcile President Reagan's proposed defense outlays with demands for reduced budget deficits.
The House panel's decision to increase its defense spending authorization by $7 billion to the congressionally imposed ceiling of $292 billion sets the stage for an acrimonious floor debate early next month, according to Aspin, who wanted the bill to remain below the ceiling.
"The committee is caught between a rock and a hard place," said Rep. William L. Dickinson (R-Ala.), the ranking minority member. "Yes, we need more for our national defense. But no, we can't have it because of the deficit."
The debates in the House committee and its Senate counterpart are set against the complex background of the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings deficit-reduction law and sharp assaults on Reagan's defense policies, including his Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), the space-based missile defense program popularly called "Star Wars."
In an earlier attempt to cut the president's $320 billion defense spending proposal, the House panel decided to provide no military pay raises. The Senate Armed Services Committee has approved the administration's request for a 4 percent increase.
Panel members restored $63 million of the almost $1.7 billion they cut from SDI. The committee also put back $269 million it had cut from Air Force reimbursements to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for shuttle launches.
In addition, the panel restored some funds for shipbuilding, research and procurement.
After protracted debate, the committee rejected numerous proposals to add local military projects to the spending bill, according to a committee source.
The Senate committee this week cut $6.8 billion from its version of the bill, which remains slightly above the $292 billion congressional spending ceiling. Committee sources said the cuts reflect savings from lower-than-expected inflation and fuel costs, and make no substantive reductions in defense programs.
The House panel also voted yesterday to lift restrictions on testing the controversial F15-launched anti-satellite (ASAT) system against an object in space, but the panel retained large funding cuts it had made for fiscal 1987. The Senate panel has approved the president's funding request and has voted to eliminate the testing ban. Restrictions on testing the missile expire Sept. 30.