House of Representatives passes intelligence authorization bill

house-112On December 2, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved the Intelligence Authorization Act (IAA) for Fiscal Year 2017 on a bipartisan 390-30 vote.

The bill (H.R. 6393) ensures that the programs and activities of the U.S. Intelligence Community are authorized by law, fully resourced, and subject to rigorous congressional oversight. Focusing on current terrorism threats as well as other long-term challenges, the bill includes provisions to ensure good governance and fiscal responsibility, strengthen our technical collection and analysis capabilities in cyberspace and other domains, and better ensure continuous IC accountability throughout the year.

The bill improves upon the previous version of the IAA, H.R. 5077, which passed the House of Representatives on a 371-35 vote on May 24. H.R. 6393 also incorporates proposals from the Intelligence Authorization Act reported by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (S. 3017).

Specifically, the fiscal year 2017 IAA:

  • Sustains critical capabilities to fight terrorism and counter the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
  • Enhances efforts against nation-state competitors, in particular, by increasing scrutiny of Russian activities, including Russia’s covert influence efforts and its compliance with the Open Skies Treaty.
  • Requires declassification reviews of intelligence on past terrorist activities of individuals transferred out of Guantanamo Bay.
  • Strengthens Congressional oversight of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) by setting authorization requirements for the PCLOB and directing PCLOB to keep Congress fully and currently informed of its oversight activities.
  • Prevents the executive branch from charging greater reproduction fees for mandatory declassification reviews than it would charge for Freedom of Information Act requests.
  • Updates Intelligence Community whistleblowing procedures.
  • Clarifies eligibility for death benefits for Central Intelligence Agency personnel.
  • Improves Intelligence Community reporting to Congress.

House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes said, “We task our Intelligence Community with countering foreign threats ranging from ISIS-inspired terror plots to cyber-attacks, and our intelligence professionals deserve to know they will receive the resources they need to perform their difficult and often dangerous jobs. I’m gratified to see this critical legislation pass the House with overwhelming bipartisan support, and I look forward to its quick passage in the Senate.”

Ranking Member Adam Schiff (D-CA) said, “The IAA we passed today will strengthen the intelligence community’s ability to protect the country, prioritize continuing and emergency threats, combat terrorism, and provide the very best intelligence to policy makers. This bill advances important privacy, transparency and security goals, including by fully authorizing the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. The bill has no GTMO transfer restrictions, and it contains important provisions aimed at countering Russia’s destabilizing efforts—including those targeting our elections. It’s my hope that the remaining issues are resolved quickly, and that the IAA can be signed by President Obama before the end of the year.”

The unclassified bill text and additional information are available here.

Source: HPSCI