Fresh after bin Laden success, House GOP set to cut intel funding

While many are still hailing the intelligence successes that led to the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden, the Republican-controlled House is expected to pass a bill cutting the budgets of various intelligence agencies.

The House is expected next week to debate and vote on a bill authorizing spending for the CIA, National Security Agency, FBI and several other federal intelligence agencies for fiscal year 2011.

{mosads}The GOP bill would reduce the budget authority of the various intelligence agencies by $47 million, lowering it from $708 million under current law to $661 million. Most of that authority would be used in FY 2011, but some is reserved for fiscal years 2012 through 2015.

In bringing up the bill, H.R. 754, the GOP hopes to bring more clarity to intelligence spending for the rest of the fiscal year, even though Democrats have said there is little need, given that the fiscal year is half over.

In report language accompanying the bill, House Republicans note that a complete intelligence authorization bill, including a classified annex that offers more detailed instructions on spending levels, has not been approved in six years. Instead, language in various appropriations bills has “deemed” as approved for intelligence funding.

In a sign that the bill may face some objections from Democrats, the report language says Republicans think it is “disappointing” that many Democrats think the bill was sprung on them in an early March hearing in the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. The report also blames Democrats for failing to act earlier on a bill for the current year.

“The current minority failed to draft or even consider an intelligence authorization bill for FY 2011 prior to the start of FY 2011, presumably because it could not enact its FY 2010 bill until after the end of FY 2010,” the report said. “The minority thus complains about a situation that is the result of their own inaction.”

The report also dismisses Democratic complaints that passing the FY 2011 bill will have “little impact” given that the fiscal year is more than half over, especially since Democrats last year “committed countless hours of the Committee’s time and resources” to the FY 2010 bill even after FY 2010 ended.

“The minority’s criticisms thus smack of political gamesmanship and mere rhetoric, especially since their complaints are most appropriately directed at themselves,” the report said.

— This story was corrected to change monetary figures to “million” from “billion.”

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