Compromising on Defense

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WASHINGTON: The President also agreed to sign a $265 billion defense appropriation bill, despite the fact that it authorizes $7 billion more than he or the Pentagon asked for. "He had to swallow the spending increase," says TIME's Mark Thompson, "because the bill also has a 2.4 percent pay raise for the troops." Conservative Republicans also pushed through prohibitions against soldiers with AIDS, and regulations forbidding military hospitals from performing abortions except in cases of rape or incest or to save the mother's life. Though President Clinton cited similar provisions as reasons he vetoed the bill last month, he accepted them this time. "The fact is that people with AIDS, as cruel as the provision is, don't have a big constituency," says Thompson. "And abortion is so polarizing that there is no room for debate on the topic. It does seem unfair that women in the service could avail themselves of an abortion in the United States at a public hospital if they couldnŐt get it at a military hospital, but if they are stationed overseas, where they depend on military hospitals, they will have fewer choices than other American women.Ó