Some lawmakers are opposing a new intelligence bill prompted by the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, complaining that Republicans refused to work with their Democratic colleagues to craft a balanced bill that would represent both viewpoints.
“Instead of acting in a bipartisan manner, the Republican leadership is introducing a bill, written behind closed doors, that attempts to score partisan points and goes far outside the recommendations of the 9/11 commission,” said House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California.
Republicans in the House say the legislation they proposed Friday will make America safer by including the commission’s suggestions to improve intelligence, immigration and national security. Democrats decried it as a partisan measure that expands government powers too far.
Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., called the 335-page proposal “the most comprehensive effort yet introduced that deals with the problems uncovered by the 9/11 commission.”
The House Republican bill includes creation of a national intelligence director and counterterrorism center, new anti-terror and immigration enforcement powers, stronger measures intended to prevent identity theft and money-laundering and other recommendations the GOP links to the independent commission’s report.
“The bill represents the best thinking of those most knowledgeable about the intelligence community and the problems that beset it,” said Rep. Christopher Cox, R-Calif., chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.
Democrats blast moves
But Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, said: “It’s as if the commission’s recommendations have been supersized with irrelevant fat and lard, representing a wish list of past reactionary proposals that would diminish our civil liberties,”
Two House members, Christopher Shays, R-Conn., and Carolyn Mahoney, D-N.Y., said the House instead should be working on Senate legislation, which members of the Sept. 11 commission endorsed. That bill is being pushed by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, chairwoman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, and the panel’s ranking Democrat, Joe Lieberman of Connecticut.
“We are seeking a vote on the House floor on a clean, bipartisan bill that is true to the spirit of the 9/11 commission’s recommendations,” Shays and Mahoney said in a joint statement. “The Collins-Lieberman bill has been endorsed by the 9/11 commission, and it deserves to be brought before the full House. “
The GOP legislation will be broken up and dealt with by different House committees next week. Hastert said he wants committee consideration finished by Friday.
Hastert said the new intelligence director would have “full budget authority” but would not be in complete control of the intelligence community’s budget, contrary to the Sept. 11 commission’s recommendation.