Senate and House negotiators might in conference committee include wording in annual defense authorization legislation that demands the Pentagon study but not necessarily build a new missile interceptor site on the eastern seaboard, Roll Call reported on Sunday.
Republican lawmakers are pushing for the fiscal 2013 National Defense Authorization Act to include wording that signals a strong backing for the establishment of a new interceptor facility, which Democrats have opposed. The Defense Department has said a third site for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense System is not necessary for protecting the mainland United States against possible long-range ballistic missile strikes. Existing interceptors sites are in Alaska and California.
The House version of the defense bill authorizes $100 million for a military study of possible East Coast locations with the direction that the facility be constructed by the end of 2015. The corresponding Senate bill, however, carries no such provision.
Asked about the conference discussions on a third interceptor site, a high-level Capitol Hill staffer said, "we're working something out."
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said conferees are likely to wrap up their work no later than Tuesday for a timeline that would allow a House vote as soon as Wednesday and a Senate vote no later than Friday.