In a major setback for the proposal to build a new East Coast missile defense, the Senate early Saturday morning defeated an amendment to endorse adding more funds for the program.
Freshman Texas Senator Ted Cruz offered an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Resolution to increase funding for an East Coast missile defense that failed 25-74 around 3:30 AM Saturday. All 25 Senators voting for the amendment were Republicans.
Council for a Livable World executive director John Isaacs called the failure of the Cruz amendment a display of “a distinct lack of congressional enthusiasm for an expensive new Pentagon program of dubious need.”
The cost to research, build and maintain the program could run into billions of dollars at a time of severe fiscal constraints.
Cruz mendment No. 471 called for “reducing foreign assistance to Egypt and increasing funding for the Missile Defense Agency to establish a land-based missile defense capability on the east coast of the United States.”
Republicans have promoted an East Coast missile defense system in the last year, most recently in a number of Senate hearings.
Last year, the House of Representatives added a provision to the annual Defense Authorization Bill to require deployment of an East Coast defense by the end 2015.
Nervous about support for the expensive provision, House leadership refused to permit a House floor vote on an amendment by Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA) to eliminate the requirement to build an East Coast missile defense site by 2015, and to substitute a Pentagon study of the plan instead.
Then Defense Secretary Panetta singled out this provision in a five page letter to authorizers arguing that the House provision “is premature because the administration has not identified a requirement for a third U.S.-based missile defense site, nor assessed the feasibility or cost in a cost-constrained environment.”
The House-Senate conferees eventually weakened that provision to a requirement to launch environmental impact study of three additional sites in the United States.
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin told Defense Daily: “Going beyond that could be a total waste of money, since there’s no military requirement. The military (leaders) have said so in testimony in front of our committees, that there is no military requirement. So the question is how much money do you want to spend on a plan which has got no requirement for it.”