The U.S. Senate on Thursday passed on an opportunity to vote on an amendment that would call for establishment of a long-range missile interceptor site on the eastern seaboard, Defense News reported.
The lack of an approving Senate vote means it will be left to delegates from both Capitol Hill chambers to hash out in conference committee whether to include funding approval in the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act for the creation of a third interceptor site in the homeland Ground-based Midcourse Defense system.
The House in May approved its version of NDAA legislation that sets aside $100 million for a Defense Department assessment of potential East Coast site locations. Republican proponents argue the third site is needed to provide coast-to-coast protection from ICBMs that could be fired by North Korea or Iran. The House legislation mandates the site be up and running before 2015 is over.
At present, the GMD system has long-range interceptors based in California and Alaska that are chiefly seen as aimed at countering a North Korean ICBM strike.
Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) had wanted a vote to be held on a Senate defense bill amendment supporting the third antimissile site. She was, however, unsuccessful in securing agreement on the specific wording of the measure.
Top Defense Department officials have characterized the third GMD site as an unnecessary expense.Outside analysts have also pointed out Iran is years away from having the ICBM capability the East Coast site would presumably be focused on countering.