- Easter worshippers shocked as car rams church, injuring 21
- NYT’s David Brooks: Obama has ‘manhood problem’ in Middle East
- Ted Cruz thanks Obama for denying visas to terrorists
- Survivors recall chaos, fear in Everest avalanche
- General Mills apologizes for ‘right to sue’ confusion, reverses policy
- Dealer wanted in U.S. for art fraud nabbed in Spain
- Easter morning delivery for space station
- Boxer Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter dies at 76
- Probe could complicate Rick Perry’s prospects
- Ukraine, Russia trade blame for eastern shootout
House debates defense spending, including NSA surveillance and aid to Syrian rebels
The House continues to debate the annual defense spending bill Wednesday and is likely to consider controversial amendments that would defund domestic data-gathering by the National Security Agency and spike President Obama’s plan to arm Syrian insurgents.
The administration has pulled out all the stops to defeat the data-gathering amendment, sending NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander to the Capitol to brief lawmakers in a classified setting about the programs revealed by NSA leaker Edward J. Snowden.
House Republican leaders have put limits on discussion of the must-pass legislation, the FY2014 Defense Appropriations Bill, allowing 100 amendments and scheduling three days of debate. A final vote is scheduled Thursday.
One amendment expected to come up Wednesday is proposed by GOP Rep. Tom Rooney of Florida and would prohibit funding to provide arms or other support to any group engaged in military action in Syria.
“With the knowledge that the Syrian rebels have been infiltrated by al Qaeda, we simply cannot in good conscience provide weapons to these groups,” Mr. Rooney said in a statement.
“Arming the al Qaeda-backed rebels directly conflicts with our national security interests,” he added.
Another amendment, proposed by fellow Republican Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, would bar the National Security Agency from collecting the telephone records of any American not under investigation.
Mr. Snowden revealed last month that the NSA was collecting data about every telephone call made in America, using the so-called business records provision, Section 215 of the Patriot Act — that huge suite of counter-terrorism laws hastily passed by Congress in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
The administration has pulled put all the stops to make sure the amendment doesn’t pass. In addition to the briefing by Gen. Alexander, the White House has threatened to veto the bill if that provision is included.
That would be the first time any president has vetoed the defense spending bill since Jimmy Carter.
On the first day of debate on the bill Tuesday, Defense News reported, the House rejected Democratic proposals to cut $110 million in funds from missile defense programs critics say don’t work and use the money for deficit reduction.
Rep. Jared Polis, of Colorado said the Pentagon’s plan to shoot down missiles aimed at the United States by “rogue states” like Iran and North Korea would “be great, if it worked.”
Mr Polis said the program’s last successful test intercept occurred in 2008, Defense News reported. The “program is simply a failure so far. … It would be foolish to throw good taxpayer money after bad,” he said.
It has been well over a decade since the budget for the Defense Department, or indeed any other part of the U.S. government, passed in what lawmakers call “regular order” — according to the rules and procedures of Congress.
Instead, Pentagon funding numbers have been cobbled together from regular annual budgets plus “emergency” war funding measures; or stuffed together with other government departments in so-called “omnibus” spending bills; or, more recently as the row over deficits has derailed the passage of even big-picture budget measures, simply been continued at the previous year’s levels in a hastily passed “continuing resolution.”
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Shaun Waterman is an award-winning reporter for The Washington Times, covering foreign affairs, defense and cybersecurity. He was a senior editor and correspondent for United Press International for nearly a decade, and has covered the Department of Homeland Security since 2003. His reporting on the Sept. 11 Commission and the tortuous process by which some of its recommendations finally became ...
- Senator's memo shows Iran links in Homeland Security's troubled immigration program
- Help wanted: Homeland Security plagued by vacancies at the top
- Dems back bill to fix problems in investor visa program
- Democrats proceed with Mayorkas vote despite pending investigation
- Game players don't think peace has a chance in Syria
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
Women losing coverage under Obamacare, too
- Former Ranger breaks silence on Pat Tillman death: I may have killed him
- In Colorado, a marijuana holiday tries to go mainstream
- Scalia to students on high taxes: At a certain point, 'perhaps you should revolt'
- Special Forces' suicide rates hit record levels casualties of 'hard combat'
- USAID documents cite Hillary Clinton in chaos of Afghan aid
- Tactical advantage: Russian military shows off impressive new gear
- Feds approve powdered alcohol; 'Palcohol' available later this year
- CURL: Shelly O first lady Michelle Obama comes in last
- UNICEF launches 'Mr. Poo' mascot in India to curb public defecation
- See the scathing documents detailing $600 billion squandered in Afghanistan
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.