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Defense spending deal reached

By Wire services
Published September 18, 2003

WASHINGTON - House-Senate negotiators reached agreement Wednesday on a $368-billion 2004 defense spending bill.

The bill represents an increase of about 1 percent for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. That does not include spending for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, which are covered in other requests.

The 2004 defense spending bill is about $3-billion below Bush's budget request. Congressional appropriators hoped to make up the difference later.

The bill includes an average military pay raise of 4.1 percent, pays for 22 F-22 stealth fighters and provides about $9-billion in missile defense programs.

The bill must be approved by the House and Senate before going to Bush for his signature. Both chambers could consider the bills as soon as next week.

House and Senate negotiators also agreed Wednesday on the first spending bill for the Department of Homeland Security, approving $29.4-billion but stripping out a plan to require screening of air cargo carried aboard passenger jets.

Man holding students hostage is killed by police

DYERSBURG, Tenn. - A gunman held at least a dozen people hostage in a college classroom before he was shot and killed by police after a nine-hour standoff. Two hostages were wounded.

Police rushed into the building at Dyersburg State Community College about 10 p.m. after hearing shots. Authorities said the gunman, 26-year-old Harold Kilpatrick Jr., had left a note saying he "wanted to kill some people and die today."

Dyersburg police Chief Bobby Williamson initially said Kilpatrick fatally shot himself, but he later confirmed that officers shot him.

It was not immediately clear whether the two hostages were wounded by police or Kilpatrick. Williamson said the injuries to the hostages were not serious.

Pentagon to investigate tanker plane lease deal

WASHINGTON - The Pentagon is opening a formal investigation into allegations that a former Air Force official improperly gave Boeing Co. information about a competing bid on a widely criticized military contract to lease 100 refueling tanker planes that Boeing eventually won.

The department's inspector general told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday that after a preliminary inquiry, "sufficient credible information exists" to begin a formal investigation of the $21-billion lease deal.

Boeing denied wrongdoing and offered to support the investigation.

Elsewhere ...

CITIZENSHIP OATH DELAYED: An attempt to revise the citizenship oath to make it more meaningful for new Americans has been stalled after complaints that it weakened a pledge to serve in the military and eliminated a promise to bear arms.

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