Floor Statement in Support of the Intelligence Authorization Act for FY15
“Thank you, Mr./Madam Chair. I yield myself as much time as I may consume.
Chairman Rogers, this is my last opportunity on the Floor to thank you again for your leadership. It has, once again, produced a strong, bipartisan and bicameral Intelligence Authorization Act.
Our Committee believes that our nation’s security is too important to be a political football. We have different views, we argue, but we work it out for the good of the American people.
Mr. Chairman, I hope that your legacy of bi-partisanship, hard work, rigorous oversight, and problem-solving continues and spreads throughout Congress. It is amazing what we can accomplish when we work together to solve problems.
I also want to thank Senators Feinstein and Chambliss, and each Member on our Committee. On the Democratic side, I want to acknowledge all the hard work of Mr. Thompson, Ms. Schakowsky, Mr. Langevin, Mr. Schiff, Mr. Gutierrez, Mr. Pastor, Mr. Himes and Ms. Sewell.
And I want to thank the dedicated men and women of the Intelligence Community who work day and night all over the world.
Today, we look beyond this Congress. We come together to set the stage for the continuing oversight of intelligence, programs, personnel and dollars. By doing so, we reinforce to the American people, and the world, that there are checks and balances. We reinforce that the tools we authorize are for the sole purpose of keeping us, our allies and our partners, safe.
In May, the House passed the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 2014 and 2015 by 345 to 19. The Senate, however, took up each year separately. Over the summer, this House passed the FY 14 bill, which the President signed.
So, we now take up the FY15 bill, which the Senate amended and sent back to us. This amended bill largely mirrors the relevant portions of the House-passed combined bill. Passing a detailed Intelligence Authorization Act ensures that our intelligence agencies spend money only on programs Congress is informed of, approves, and can continuously oversee.
It helps makes sure that everything our intelligence agencies do follows the Constitution and the laws of the United States, and maximizes the civil liberties and privacy of Americans.
At the same time, the Intelligence Agencies need the clear authorization, direction and guidance from Congress to do their vital work to protect and defend America, its allies and its partners.
The Intelligence Authorization Act is split 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.
While we have made cuts to certain areas and added money in others to produce a responsible, well thought out, and fiscally prudent budget, the budget for Fiscal Year 2015 slightly exceeds the President’s request.
While over the last four years we have reduced the IC’s budget by over a billion dollars, this year’s bill acknowledges the need to make corrections after the drastic cuts of sequestration and the Budget Control Act.
Additionally, this bill acknowledges the need to step up our intelligence efforts to counter evolving threats such as ISIL. It is a dangerous world out there, and our bill accounts for that.
Let me also mention some specifics. The bill:
- Continues to emphasize the value of our space programs, and endorses aggressive action to decrease our reliance on Russian-made engines to launch our national security satellites.
- Makes investments into Research and Development to defend against next generation threats and to stay ahead of countries like China and Russia.
- Further improves the continuous evaluation of insider threats while safeguarding privacy and civil liberties.
- Enables better intelligence and information sharing to prevent foreign fighters coming into and out of Syria.
- Enables cutting edge Defense Intelligence Agency technology.
- Further refines the Department of Defense Human Intelligence capabilities while supporting community-wide Human Intelligence efforts to better understand the enemies’ plans and intentions.
- Establishes increased accountability measures for our most sensitive programs.
The Committee has worked with the IC and the Senate to produce this solid, bipartisan bill. This bill also incorporates the valuable Floor Amendments the House passed in May. It represents the culmination of our Committee’s work through extensive hearings and briefings, travel, and in-depth studies.
The bill is strong, and I am proud to support it.
For the sake of keeping the country, its allies and its partners safe, and for the sake of thoroughly 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.