House Moves Toward Passage of Intelligence Bill

May 12, 2011 - 4:15 PM

Washington (AP) — The House pushed toward passage of a bill to fund the nation's spy agencies despite Obama administration objections that the legislation tells the intelligence community how many people it can hire.

Work on the bill, which the House is expected to complete on Friday, came as the intelligence agencies received high marks for the killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. Lawmakers repeatedly mentioned the raid and the intelligence work that led the United States to the bin Laden compound deep inside Pakistan.

"We recently saw the successful mission against Osama bin Laden," Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., chairman of the House Intelligence committee, said during Thursday's debate. "Our intelligence professionals remain on the frontlines in America's defense against our enemies."

The panel's top Democrat, Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., said, "We are now on our game. We're working together. We're better than we've ever been, and we've clearly sent a message to the world, if you're going to attack America, if you are going to kill Americans, we are going to find you and we are going to bring you to justice."

The bill has strong bipartisan support, reflected in a 251-133 test vote on Thursday, but the administration criticized the legislation in a statement.

"Cuts to requested funding and personnel levels will have a seriously negative effect on essential intelligence community national security operations, including counterterrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction analysis and counterintelligence — all critical, high-priority needs," the White House said.

It stopped short of threatening a presidential veto.

Congress hasn't passed a bill in six years and the committee said the legislation for the current year was "critical to restoring this committee's relevance in the community," and even more critical "to make sure our intelligence agencies have the resources and the capabilities they need for their important mission."

The amount of money in the bill is classified. However, the administration said last year's budget totaled $80.1 billion.