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House approves defense bill

The House approved a $270.6-billion defense appropriation bill Friday that would block plans to cut U.S. reserve forces and would buy more ships for conflicts like the gulf war. It approved the appropriation for defense programs next year by a vote of 273-105 and sent it to the Senate.

Most of the bill simply pays for a defense authorization bill already approved by the House that would cut President Bush's requests for the B-2 Stealth bomber and Star Wars anti-missile defense research, and provide more money for fighter planes and other non-nuclear weapons.

Congress' rules require it to authorize programs and then appropriate money for them with separate bills.

But the appropriation bill approved by the House would buy more ships for regional wars than the earlier bill. It would also block administration plans to cut reserve units and force soldiers out of the Army to cut defense costs.

The bill includes an additional $1.3-billion for fast sea-lift ships to carry the heaviest tanks and other heavy mechanized weapons into wars like the one against Iraq.

An accompanying report says the gulf war showed the Navy needs more of the ships and urges the Navy to complete plans in 30 days for building more of them.

The bill would also block Bush administration plans to reduce the present 1.2-million reserve troops by 108,000 next year and 79,000 the next year as part of its program to cut overall defense costs.

The report accompanying the bill said the reserves should not be cut until studies of the gulf war and NATO determine how many U.S. reservists should be kept.

The House bill also would provide $78.7-million to keep Army troop levels high enough so that the Army would not have to force out qualified soldiers who want to stay in.

Military searches

for faulty parts

SEATTLE _ Military shipments have been delayed as a widespread search is being made to find defective electronic components that could disable some U.S. weapons, a newspaper reported Friday.

Millions of resistors, tiny electronic pieces used in the electronic circuitry of F-15 fighters, Patriot missiles, radar and other systems, must be tracked down and checked for flaws, officials at the Defense Electronic Supply Center in Dayton, Ohio, told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer on Thursday.

The resistors were made by Philips Components of West Palm Beach, which has recalled them, the newspaper reported.

Philips discovered in January that the parts might fail.

"If the resistor fails, the circuit fails," said Jeff Zern, an electronics engineer at the Dayton military center. "And if the circuit fails, the equipment won't operate."

A Philips spokeswoman said the company has recalled 1.7-million resistors, some which were shipped to defense contractors and civilian customers as far back as 1989, the Post-Intelligencer reported. The resistors were made at the Philips plant in Mineral Wells, Texas.