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McCain: Defense bill could move drones to Pentagon

McCain: Defense bill could move drones to Pentagon
© Francis Rivera

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCainJohn Sidney McCainEx-McSally aide pleads guilty to stealing over 0K in campaign funds DOJ: Arizona recount could violate civil rights laws Cheney fight stokes cries of GOP double standard for women MORE (R-Ariz.) is promising to propose legislation that would move oversight of the U.S. drone program from the CIA to the Defense Department.

“It’s what the president announced. It needs to be done. We’ll be looking at some kind of legislation on the defense authorization bill to see that that accelerates,” McCain told reporters on Tuesday.

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President Obama apologized last week after a U.S. counterterrorism strike killed two Western hostages: American aid worker Warren Weinstein and Italian national Giovanni Lo Porto. Both were held hostage by al Qaeda.

The deadly mistake has prompted some members of Congress to renew their calls for the intelligence agency’s drone effort to shift to the Pentagon, something Obama urged in a 2013 speech at the National Defense University.

The Senate Armed Services panel is set to roll out its draft of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) some time in May.

The legislation serves as the budget blueprint for all Department of Defense (DOD) efforts and programs in the coming fiscal year.

McCain said he has spoken with “plenty” of his colleagues about his proposal, but not Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrBattle lines drawn over Biden's support for vaccine waivers FDA unveils plan to ban menthol cigarettes, flavored cigars The Hill's Morning Report - Biden to country: 'Turning peril into possibility' MORE (R-N.C.), whose panel currently has oversight of the drone program. 

“We work closely together, but this is an issue that I’ve been very clear on for a long time. We will not surprise him,” McCain said. “We may have a disagreement. That’s what votes are for in the United States Senate.”

Burr said he has had “no discussions” with McCain about the proposal, but signaled he was against the effort changing hands.

“Listen, I’m not sure that DOD can operate a drone program in Pakistan, that’s up to United States administration and the Pakistanis,” he said.