Bipartisan group looks to force 'black budget' into daylight

Bipartisan group looks to force 'black budget' into daylight
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Lawmakers in the House and Senate want to open up the “black budget," which sends billions of dollars to intelligence agencies in secret.

Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenIRS waiving penalty for some in first filing season under Trump's tax law Mobile providers at center of privacy storm Hillicon Valley: House chair seeks emergency briefing on wireless industry's data sharing | AG nominee to recuse himself from AT&T-Time Warner merger | Dem questions Treasury, IRS on shutdown cyber risks MORE (D-Ore.) and Reps. Peter WelchPeter Francis WelchKey House Dem: I don't want to 'punish' drug companies Overnight Health Care: Dems hit GOP with ObamaCare lawsuit vote | GOP seeks health care reboot after 2018 losses | House Dems aim for early victories on drug pricing | CDC declares lettuce e-coli outbreak over DeGette dropped from chief deputy whip spot MORE (D-Vt.) and Cynthia LummisCynthia Marie LummisTrump’s shifting Cabinet to introduce new faces The Hill's Morning Report — What a shutdown would mean for the government Leading contenders emerge to replace Zinke as Interior secretary MORE (R-Wyo.) on Wednesday introduced legislation that would force the president to disclose in an annual report to Congress the top-line spending levels at each of the 16 federal intelligence agencies.

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That would institute new openness in the U.S. government, the lawmakers said, while allowing the agencies to keep the details of the their programs secret.

"The biggest threat to the successful implementation of a vital national program is the combination of unlimited money with non-existent oversight,” Welch said in a statement. “That's the situation Congress has allowed to develop in the critical work of intelligence gathering."

Since 2007, the government has revealed the total annual budget for intelligence agencies and operations. But how that money breaks down among the CIA, National Security Agency, FBI, and 13 other agencies involved in intelligence work is classified.

For 2016, President Obama’s budget request included $53.9 billion for intelligence purposes. 

A copy of Obama’s 2013 budget request leaked by Edward Snowden showed that the CIA got the largest chunk of the $52.6 billion requested that year.

The new legislation isn’t the first time lawmakers have tried to get their hands on the “black budget.” Last year, Welch, Lummis and other lawmakers wrote to Obama asking him to reveal the top-line numbers for fiscal 2015; the White House declined to take that step.

A handful of other House lawmakers signed on to co-sponsor Wednesday’s bill, including Reps. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanRepublicans request update on investigation into ex-FBI official accused of leaks GOP lawmakers rip Dems for calling Cohen to testify Jordan renews call for Rosenstein to testify MORE (R-Ohio), Jim SensenbrennerFrank (Jim) James SensenbrennerCongress must take the next steps on federal criminal justice reforms Time to protect small businesses from internet sales tax rush On The Money: Trump readying 0B in tariffs for China | Warren wants companies to disclose climate impacts | Bill aims to provide clarity to online sales tax ruling MORE (R-Wis.), David PriceDavid Eugene Price'Remain in Mexico' is another brick in Trump’s invisible wall House Dems follow Senate action with resolution to overturn IRS donor disclosure guidance Immigrant who sought refuge in NC church denied request to stay in US: lawmakers MORE (D-N.C.) and Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.).