Senate salvages shipbuilding cash

The Senate yesterday narrowly defeated an effort to strike $500 million in hurricane-recovery funding for defense giant Northrop Grumman from a $106.5 billion emergency supplemental spending bill, voting 47-52 to reject an amendment by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.).

The provision promises to be a point of contention in a House-Senate conference because the House-passed version would make $250 million available to Navy shipbuilders on the Gulf Coast, including Northrop Grumman.

Coburn and fellow conservatives have argued that the provision and a series of others are not national emergencies and do not belong in a bill intended to fund military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and Gulf Coast hurricane recovery. The president has threatened to veto the bill if it arrives at his desk above the $94.5 billion level of his request.

The vote on the Northrop Grumman funding broke up a closed Armed Services Committee markup, and members of that panel were among the last to vote.

Armed Services Chairman John Warner (R-Va.) first voted to take the money out and then switched his vote after a telephone conversation on the Senate floor.