Conferees OK Defense Dept. appropriations

House and Senate conferees approved a $416.2 billion fiscal 2005 Defense appropriations bill late last month and sent it to President Bush to sign.

The proposal is $1.6 billion lower than the $417.8 billion Bush requested and $25.4 billion more than in fiscal 2004.

Because of scheduling delays, conferees voted unanimously to slash money from several key programs, including the Army's Future Combat Systems initiative and missile defense programs and the Air Force's Space-Based Radar program.

The conferees included $2.9 billion for the Army's Future Combat Systems, a project to develop networked combat vehicles and weapons systems. The proposal would slash President Bush's re-
quest by $268 million.

The budget also includes $25 billion in emergency funding for operations in Iraq and Afghani-

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