Floor Statement in Support of Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 2014 and 2015
(Washington, DC) – Congressman C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), Ranking Member on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, delivered the following statement on the House Floor in support of Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 2014 and 2015.
“Thank you, Mr. Chair. I yield myself as much time as I may consume.
Chairman Rogers, let me first say thank you for your leadership, which once again has produced a solid, bipartisan Intelligence Authorization Act.
We need to pass this Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 2014 and 2015 to ensure rigorous oversight and accountability over all U.S. intelligence agencies and all U.S. intelligence activities. This is so important. We cannot go back to the days when we give the intelligence agencies a blank check to spend as they see fit.
Remember, Congress specifically amended the National Security Act of 1947 to replace blanket intelligence appropriations with specific authorizations. Why? To ensure that our intelligence agencies spend money only on programs of which Congress is informed and approves.
So, today, we need to make sure we maintain this means of critical oversight by passing the bill.
The Intelligence Authorization Act for FY 2014 and 2015 is in four parts, the unclassified legislative text, the unclassified report, the classified annex (that explains our intent for the classified aspects of the bill), and the classified schedule of authorizations for both fiscal years.
We have been encouraging all Members to review all four parts of the bill, and I’m pleased that so many have come down to the Intelligence Committees classified spaces to do so.
The budget for Fiscal Year 2014 is slightly below the President’s request, while the budget for Fiscal Year 2015 is less than 1% above the President’s budget request. For both, we made cuts to certain areas and added money in others in a responsible, well thought out, and fiscally prudent way.
Since Chairman Rogers and I assumed leadership of the Committee, we reduced the intelligence community’s budget by 20%; but this year’s bill acknowledges the need to right the ship after the storm of sequestration.
The bill sets the priorities for our intelligence professionals and their agencies, and it allocates resources to critical national security programs, including those that detect, prevent, and disrupt potential terrorist attacks.
Let me also mention some specifics. The bill:
- Continues to emphasize the value of our satellites;
- Scales back the IC’s use of contractors;
- Pushes for further improvements in the continuous evaluation of insider threats;
- Provides critical forward-looking funding for Navy airborne Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance to maintain military intelligence capabilities during the transition to newer, more capable aircraft; and
- Invests in both the recruitment and retention of the best and brightest for our cyber workforce, particularly within the FBI.
We have spent months pouring over this bill and its specific authorizations in great detail-- in our Committee spaces, at the agencies, and in the remotest corners of the earth where our intelligence professionals operate-- and I can say this is a very good bill, which I am proud to support.
Many of the amendments on the floor today also promise to make a great bill even better.
For the sake of keeping the country and its allies safe, and for the sake of rigorously overseeing even the most classified intelligence programs, I urge my colleagues to pass this bill today.
Thank you, and I reserve the balance of my time.”