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Lawmaker Presses Amendment for East Coast Antimissile Base

Representative Michael Turner (R-Ohio) is pressing an addendum to the fiscal 2014 National Defense Authorization Act that would provide $140 million for an East Coast missile interceptor base to be established by 2018, The Hill reported.

The House Armed Services Committee was marking up the legislation on Wednesday but had not voted on Turner's amendment as of press time.

“My amendment to the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) tomorrow would create a mandate to deploy the East Coast site by a specific date,” Turner said in prepared comments to the newspaper on Tuesday. “This would ensure that we are taking active steps to protect the homeland against the threats we see developing around the world. Our nation cannot afford to ignore the risks that come with hostile nations developing long-range strike capabilities.”

The lawmaker and other GOP House members previously called for $250 million for the site; the head of the Missile Defense Agency said in May the money was not needed "at this time."

Defense Department officials have said that ballistic missile interceptor sites in Alaska and California provide sufficient protection from potential strikes by nations such as Iran and North Korea. Democrats have also been wary of a possible third site.

The Missile Defense Agency has estimated the expense of installing as many as 20 interceptors at roughly $3 billion, according to the Turner amendment. Work would be expected to last five years.

House Armed Services Committee Democrats said on Wednesday they would seek during the markup to eliminate the $140 million for the East Coast site. They also intend to cut $220 million added by Republicans for nuclear arsenal activities at the Energy Department's National Nuclear Security Administration and $104 million in spending on rocket motor sets for ground-based missile interceptors, according to a press release.

“This added funding does not reflect a post-Sept. 11 mentality – it reflects a Cold War mentality,” Representatives Loretta Sanchez (Calif.) and John Garamendi (Calif.) said in a joint statement.

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