CBO: NSA reform bill would cost $15 million

CBO: NSA reform bill would cost $15 million

The House’s National Security Agency reform bill would cost the government $15 million over the next four years, according to the Congressional Budget Office. 

The CBO cautioned it does not provide cost estimates for classified programs, so its review only relates to the unclassified aspects of the bill. 

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Nonetheless, the unclassified cost is relatively insignificant when compared to the more than $1 trillion in government spending that could be approved for fiscal 2016. Other spending or collection from the bill would have a minimal net impact on the deficit and would be insignificant, according to the three-page assessment

The bill, expected to be taken up next week, would end the government’s bulk collection of U.S. phone records, while extending expiring sections of the Patriot Act until 2020. The bill, instead, would require the government to seek warrants for specific selection terms to access the data stored with phone companies, among other things. 

A total of $5 million in spending would go toward the cost of increased warrants, as well as adding five advocates to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to help argue significant interpretations of law. It would also go toward certain reporting requirements for the court. 

Another $10 million would be spent on reviews of the effectiveness of the program and a separate declassification review of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act opinions and orders. 

The CBO noted rules apply that require Congress to offset the spending.