A House Armed Services subcommittee voted yesterday to eliminate all $3.8 billion in procurement money President Bush had sought for the B-2 bomber.
In Congress's first major assault on the B-2, the panel on procurement and military nuclear systems adopted the proposal of its chairman, Rep. Les Aspin (D-Wis.), to stop buying the stealth aircraft after the 15 planes currently on order are delivered to the Air Force.
The subcommittee on research and development meets today to take up the president's request for money for B-2 testing. The full committee is to meet later in the day to put the finishing touches on its $283 billion defense bill for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.
The subcommittee's action on the B-2 reflected eroding congressional support for the aircraft, which is manufactured by Northrop Corp. Lawmakers have expressed sticker shock over the cost of a single plane: nearly $865 million.
In other action behind closed doors, the panel eliminated the $1.3 billion the Pentagon sought for the program to move the MX nuclear missile from fixed silos to railroad cars and zeroed out the $1.3 billion for the AMRAAM antiaircraft missile.
Rejecting Defense Secretary Richard B. Cheney's attempts to kill the V-22 Osprey, the House panel added $165 million for advance procurement of the tilt-rotor assault transport that takes off like a helicopter and flies like a plane.
The panel also restricted the purchase of the C-17 transport aircraft, requiring Cheney to certify that the plane has made a successful test flight before some $350 million can be spent on the two planes sought in the new fiscal year. The administration had proposed spending $2.1 billion on the C-17, designed to land on fields that the gigantic C-5 transport cannot use.