House panel members say Bush defense increases not big enough

House Armed Services Committee members Wedensday had the same message for Defense Department officials as their Senate counterparts did Tuesday--President Bush's requested increases have bipartisan support, but perhaps Defense needs even more.

Armed Services Military Installations and Facilities Subcommittee Chairman Jim Saxton, R- N.J., decried the request that less money be spent on military facilities in anticipation of another round of base closings in the future.

"That dog don't hunt," Saxton said.

Armed Services ranking member Ike Skelton, D-Mo., opposed the proposed $10 billion reserve fund for defense needs, saying the department should submit a detailed request for that funding instead. Skelton suggested that $10 billion would be better spent adding troops than reserved for unspecified needs.

Meanwhile, Maine's congressional delegation said Tuesday they will to push to accelerate funding for an extra DDG-51 destroyer to be built next, so that the Bath Iron Works does not have to wait another year to begin work on it.

Rep. Tom Allen, D-Maine, criticized the administration's plan to only build five ships per year.

"This is bad news for shipbuilding," Allen said. "We're going backwards."

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