Yesterday the U.S. House approved by by 247 votes to 178 (roll call) a bill to fund sixteen intelligence agencies for the next fiscal year. Most of the Republican caucus supported the bill, including Iowa’s Representatives Rod Blum (IA-01), David Young (IA-03), and Steve King (IA-04). Although 31 Democrats also voted yes, most of the House Democrats, including Dave Loebsack (IA-02), opposed the bill, as did 25 Republicans. None of the Iowans issued a statement explaining their votes, but I will update this post if I see any relevant comments.
Because the Intelligence Authorization Act is mostly classified, it’s not clear how much money House members appropriated to run the various intelligence agencies. The Obama administration requested $53.9 billion for the National Intelligence Program for fiscal year 2016, while the Pentagon requested $17.9 billion for the Military Intelligence Program. According to The Hill’s Julian Hattem, House Democrats who opposed the bill “objected to provisions limiting the transfer of detainees from Guantanamo Bay, budget maneuvers they called ‘gimmicks’ and other provisions.” Congressional Republicans had promised to abide by the “sequester” spending limits for next year’s budget, but the intelligence funding bill gets around those limits by using money from the Pentagon’s Overseas Contingency Operations fund. The same maneuver added spending to the 2016 Defense Authorization bill House members approved last month.
Before the vote on final passage of the intelligence funding bill, House members considered an amendment to remove language that would “ban the government from transferring detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the U.S. or a recognized ‘combat zone.’” Loebsack and most of the House Democrats voted for that amendment, but Iowa’s three Republicans helped to vote it down (roll call). The White House contends that restricting transfers from Guantanamo would “violate constitutional separation-of-powers principles” and “could interfere with the President’s authority to protect sensitive national security information.”
Some House members in both parties warned last week that a “one-sentence provision tucked into an annual intelligence policy bill […] could hobble the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board,” but leaders did not allow floor votes on several amendments that sought to reverse the restrictions on the privacy board.
Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread. Bonus points if you can provide a good reason the federal government runs so many separate intelligence and security agencies.