Council for a Livable World Hails House Anti-Missile Defense Vote

Washington, D.C. – Council for a Livable World today hailed the House of Representatives' anti-missile defense vote very late Saturday night.

The House rejected 161 – 249 an amendment by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) to the Defense Appropriations Bill to restore $97 million that the House Committee on Appropriations had cut from the National Missile Defense program (ground-based mid-course system).

Thirty-eight Republicans joined 211 Democrats voting against the amendment and against more missile defense funds.

John Isaacs, executive director for Council for a Livable World, commented: "National missile defense has become less of a sacred cow for the Bush Administration and for Congress."

The House vote followed other setbacks for the missile defense program this year, formerly a pet program of the lame-duck Bush Administration. The House Appropriations Committee had voted a total of $8.5 billion for all of the missile defense programs managed by the Missile Defense Agency – short, medium and long-range – $298 million below the request and $883 million below FY 2007 levels.

The Committee cuts included a $139 million reduction from the $310 million requested for a third national missile defense site in Europe, a program trimmed by other congressional committees.

Isaacs added: "For Bush and for Republicans, the terrorist surveillance program also adopted Saturday was a far higher priority than national missile defense. The Administration fought tooth and nail for wiretapping authority; it barely lifted a finger for missile defense."

The Pentagon's ground-based, mid-course missile defense system (GMD), formerly called by the more descriptive name National Missile Defense, is being developed and deployed to intercept one or a very few warheads launched by inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBM) against the United States.

While the shorter-range theater missile defense systems show significant progress and the Patriot system has been used in war-time situations, the national missile defense system has not reached the stage at which operational testing is even possible. The preliminary intercept tests to date have been highly structured and unrealistic.

The Senate will consider the Defense Appropriations bill after returning from the August break after Labor Day.