A transparent political maneuver lies behind the administration's decision to release an additional $155 million for development of the B-70. That amount of money, and more, was made available for the B-70 in appropriation bills voted by the Democratic Congress a year and a half ago.
That the Republican administration waits until a week before election to release the funds speaks for itself. The objective is not to increase national defense; it is to increase Republican votes. Far from being credited for moving now, the administration should be blamed for acting so slowly on such a vital weapon.
Back in 1959, in the appropriations bill for fiscal 1960, the Democratic Congress voted $345 million for development of the B-70. The administration impounded from that appropriation $195 million, and allowed the Air Force to spend only $150 million.
This year, in the appropriations for fiscal 1961, the Air Force initially sought $360 million for the B-70. In the President's appropriations request to the Congress that figure was cut back to $75 million, enough to build two prototypes only. The Congress refused to go along with the administration reduction. It made available $365 million for the B-70, with the proviso that the administration might use $100 million of that money for air defense aircraft.
The administration elected to use only $110 million of the $365 million. Only now, months after the money was appropriated, but just days before the election, does the administration recognize the wisdom of the Democratic Congress and release some of the funds originally appropriated for this function.
In all, $1.1 billion voted for defense purposes by the Democratic Congress was impounded in July by the Republican administration, and nearly $400 million remains impounded, including $126 million for the B-70; $111 million for antisubmarine submarines; $65 million for modernization of the Army; $18 million for the Polaris missile; $50 million for Air Force missiles; $12 million for building reserve forces.
In short, while the Republicans are willing to take desperate measures to win votes, they are doing less than the Congress has stipulated in building the Nation's defenses.