Senate Approves $345B for Defense

WASHINGTON?The Senate approved its $345 billion defense spending bill without a dissenting vote Tuesday after dispensing with Republican objections that had stymied progress for a week as the nation geared up for war.

The vote was 99-0 for the bill that authorizes money for the Defense Department and the military work of the Energy Department for fiscal 2002, which began Monday.

?The men and women in the military should be able to count on us in normal times, and surely they ought to be able to count on us in these emergency times. And I believe very firmly that this bill does exactly that,? Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, told the Senate.

The $345 billion represents an 11 percent increase, or $34.2 billion, over last year?s spending. It includes $8.3 billion for President Bush?s prized missile defense program, although he could spend $1.3 billion of that to fight terrorism.