Defense and military construction bills head to Senate

The House on Tuesday approved by separate voice votes motions to send to House-Senate conference the bills that would fund the Defense Department and military construction projects in fiscal 2003.

The bills "will be the only two appropriations bills Congress gets done before the elections," with the remaining appropriations bills pending a budget allocation, a House committee staffer said.

The House version of the Defense bill would provide $354.7 billion, $12 billion above the president's request. The Senate approved $355.4 billion.

Military construction, meanwhile, would be funded at about $10.1 billion under the House version, compared with the Senate's $10.7 billion.

Both of those totals exceed the president's nearly $9.6 billion request. The House named 15 conferees each to negotiate compromise versions of the bills.