McCain scolds appropriators for drone move

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainStephen Miller hits Sunday show to defend Trump against racism charges Michelle Obama weighs in on Trump, 'Squad' feud: 'Not my America or your America. It's our America' Meghan McCain shares story of miscarriage MORE (R-Ariz.) expressed outrage at a report that the $1 trillion appropriations bill has a classified provision that restricts funds from being used to transfer the U.S. drone program from the CIA to the Pentagon. 

McCain on Thursday called out the leaders of the Appropriations Committee, saying it was not “their business” to attempt to create policy. 

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“This is a fundamental function of government that has to do with national security, and it's hidden in a secret provision of the mammoth appropriations bill,” McCain said on the Senate floor. “I say to the distinguished chairperson and ranking member, that is not their business.”

McCain opened his speech by reading from a Washington Post report that claimed appropriators were attempting to further block the transition of the lethal drone program from the CIA to the Pentagon — a goal President Obama mapped out last year. 

Quoting officials, the report found that the provision that cut off funding was tucked into a classified portion of the bill. 

McCain guessed that only a handful of senators knew about the provision, blasting appropriators because hearings had not been held by either the Armed Services Committee or the Intelligence Committee. 

“The appropriators have gotten into the business of the authorizing committees in a way that is a violation of every procedure and process that this Senate is supposed to be pursuing,” he said. 

He added: “The Appropriations Committee is supposed to appropriate. The Appropriations Committee has no business making this decision.”

Last May, Obama said he wanted to begin moving the drone program out of the CIA’s hands and into Pentagon control to make the process more transparent. 

However, a series of reports last year found that the transfer had stalled or slowed down at best. 

Currently the CIA and the Pentagon operate separate drone programs geared toward eliminating high-level al Qaeda terrorist targets around the world.

McCain has expressed support for moving the drone program under the Pentagon’s purview, asserting it would have greater oversight from Congress. However, on Thursday he focused exclusively on scolding appropriators for attempting to steer policy.