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News Briefs 1

Conferees Meet to Finalize Pentagon Budget

The Washington Post

When House and Senate conferees meet Tuesday to finalize details of next year's Pentagon budget, the government's multimillion-dollar annual subsidy to Westinghouse Electric Corp. and Britain's Rolls-Royce to develop a new, fuel-efficient engine for Navy warships will be on the line.

The $244 billion House version of the 1996 military spending bill would end the subsidy after a Navy expenditure of close to $200 million. A House Appropriations Committee report cited "serious technical problems," and questioned whether the savings promised by the engine would ever come close to recouping the anticipated $400 million of the Navy's overall development costs.

But for reasons that shed light on the web of commercial, diplomatic and congressional interests that make it difficult to end this and dozens of other defense program, it appears unlikely the House will get its way.

Both Pennsylviania's senators are supporting development of the Intercooled Recupaterative (ICR) Gas Turbine Engine, which would be assembled and tested at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. The ICR program would provide a new role for the yard, which officially closed on Sunday.

Philadelphia's Mayor Ed Rendell, who has been pushing for reuse of the yard, has urged members of the Pennsylviania congressional delegation to get behind ICR. Rendell briefed President Clinton Monday on the yard's problems.

Westinghouse, the prime contractor, hopes to use the Navy contract to hone its turbine technology, possibly leading not only to multi-billion sales to power the next generation of warships, but also to commercial sales of turbines for civilian power generation.

For Rolls-Royce, which is building and testing key engine components in the United Kingdom, the program provides crucial access to the U.S. defense market, and the British government has told the Pentagon it considers the ICR project an important part of U.S.-British defense collaboration.

Questions Arise About Withholding Of Foster's Notebook

The Washington Post

Former White House counsel Bernard Nussbaum is refusing to take the blame for withholding a handwritten notebook found in Vincent W. Foster Jr.'s briefcase and kept by officials for more than a year as federal investigators sought clues to his death.

White House officials pointed a finger Friday at their former colleague, who has taken the fall for many of the administration's missteps to date relating to Foster's death and the related Whitewater investigation. Officials said only Nussbaum could explain why Foster's notebook detailing his concerns about the White House travel office controversy was withheld for so long from Justice Department investigators and former special counsel Robert B. Fiske Jr.

But Nussbaum's lawyers said he was not even at the White House when Fiske subpoenaed records kept by Foster, the deputy White House counsel whose body was found in a Virginia park in July 1993. "The White house will have to indicate why the decision was made not to turn over the travel office file (to Fiske) in May of 1994," said James Fitzpatrick, Nussbaum's lawyer.

Nussbaum left the White House in March of that year.