Floor Statement in Support of Intelligence Authorization Act for FY 14
“Thank you, Mr. Speaker. 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 not just a bipartisan, but a bi-cameral, Intelligence Authorization Act that we are taking up today.
This chamber passed its Fiscal Years 2014 and 2015 Intelligence Authorization Acts less than a month ago, with over 300 votes in favor.
Today we are taking up just the Senate’s Fiscal Year 2014 bill, which the Senate recently passed by unanimous consent.
I hope the House passes this bill and sends it to the President’s desk today.
We need these annual intelligence authorization acts to ensure the most rigorous oversight and accountability over all U.S. intelligence agencies and over all U.S. intelligence activities. We must ensure that our intelligence agencies spend money only on programs of which Congress is informed and approves.
This bill does that.
We also need these annual intelligence authorizations to set the priorities for our intelligence professionals and their agencies, and to allocate resources to critical national security programs, including those that detect, prevent, and disrupt potential terrorist attacks.
This bill does that, too.
And we need the intelligence authorization acts to promote fiscal discipline. This bill makes cuts to certain areas and adds money in others in a responsible, well thought out, and fiscally prudent way. The result is a budget below the President’s request.
In fact, since Chairman Rogers and I assumed leadership of the Intelligence Committee, we have reduced the Intelligence Community’s budget by 20%, without reducing capability, and I’m pleased to see the Senate going along with us.
The unclassified, legislative text in this Senate bill is very similar to what this chamber debated last month. It makes substantial improvements to the security clearance process. It requires detailed reports on matters such as electronic waste and chemical weapons in Syria. And, it promotes education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.
The Senate also added three substantive provisions, all of which greatly promote transparency, oversight and accountability.
First, the bill creates independent, Senate confirmed NSA and National Reconnaissance Office Directors, as well as independent, Senate confirmed NSA and NRO Inspectors General.
Second, the bill requires the Attorney General to establish a process for the regular review for publication of DOJ legal opinions provided to the Intelligence Community. It also requires that any classified opinions that can’t be published be made available to the appropriate Committees or Members of Congress.
And third, it amends the National Security Act to prohibit any personnel actions against a lawful, IC whistleblower.
As for the classified schedule of authorizations, it is identical, except for some minor, prorated adjustments. We encouraged all Members to review the classified schedule of authorizations, as well as the classified text, and I’m pleased that so many have come down to the Intelligence Committees classified spaces to do so.
We have spent a long time pouring over every aspect of this bill -- in our Committee spaces, at the agencies, with the Senate, 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.
For the sake of keeping the country and its allies safe, for the sake of rigorously overseeing even the most classified intelligence programs, and for the sake of our intelligence professionals who work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, often in harms way, I urge my colleagues to pass this bill and send it to the President today.
Thank you, and I reserve the balance of my time.”