A conservative Republican from the San Joaquin Valley and a liberal Democrat from Southern California have collaborated to write an intelligence authorization bill that includes many secrets but little apparent controversy.
In a noteworthy feat of bipartisanship, Reps. Devin Nunes, R-Visalia, and Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, will bring to the House of Representatives floor as early as Wednesday the public, 93-page version of the fiscal 2017 authorization bill for the CIA, National Security Agency and other elements of what’s broadly called the intelligence community.
All told, the non-military intelligence spending totals about $53.5 billion a year.
With the expectation of easy sailing, the intelligence bill is coming up under special rules that allow for speedy debate and passage by voice vote. Since two-thirds approval is required if a recorded vote is called for, the special procedure is typically reserved for noncontroversial measures, like the four post office renamings also scheduled for Wednesday.
The expedited consideration comes, in part, because this is the second time this year the House has taken up the intelligence bill. Still, it’s noteworthy for legislation that has so many potential flashpoints, and it appears to reflect the smooth working relationship established by Nunes, the chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and Schiff, the panel’s ranking Democrat.
“We have worked closely with the minority members . . . and the bill is stronger for it,” Nunes said during markup of the bill earlier this year.
Two other Californians, Democratic Reps. Jackie Speier and Eric Swalwell, both from the San Francisco Bay Area, also serve on the committee, as does Rep. Mike Pompeo, the Kansas Republican tapped to be the incoming Trump administration’s new CIA director.
Nunes and Schiff praised the selection of their Intelligence Committee colleague.
A set of “classified annexes” accompany the intelligence bill, which interested House members can review only by visiting a specially secured room. Among the public provisions, the bill calls for a declassification review of information concerning terrorist acts allegedly committed by detainees that the Obama administration transferred out of Guantanamo Bay.
Another provision, favored by Swalwell, calls for a study of the current utilization of cybersecurity expertise at the national laboratories that include Lawrence Livermore and Sandia in California.