Lawmakers want to see the ‘black budget’

Dozens of House lawmakers want the Obama administration to release the secret “black budget” used to fund intelligence agencies.

A bipartisan group of 62 members of Congress wrote President Obama a letter on Wednesday asking him to release the fiscal 2015 spending levels for 16 federal spy agencies when he delivers the rest of his budget to Congress on March 4.

“The current practice of providing no specificity whatsoever regarding the overall budget requests for each intelligence agency falls woefully short of basic accountability requirements,” the legislators wrote.

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“As you develop your fiscal year 2015 budget, we strongly urge you to take a simple step toward much needed transparency by including the total amount requested for each of the sixteen intelligence agencies. We believe the top line number for each agency should be made public, with no risk to national security, for comparative purposes across all federal government agencies.”

Wednesday’s request was led by Reps. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), who last month introduced the Intelligence Budget Transparency Act. The bill would require the administration to release basic details about the spy agencies’ budgets.

The federal government has disclosed the overall amount of money spent to fund the intelligence community since 2007, but has kept classified more specific details about the individual budgets of agencies like the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency (NSA).

Documents released by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden last year showed that the CIA has grown to eat up about 28 percent of the $52.6 billion spent in 2013. The $14.7 billion it received was about 50 percent more than the NSA’s funding.  

The White House did not immediately respond to an inquiry from The Hill about the lawmakers' request. 

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