Washington, DC – Senate negotiators in the intelligence reform conference today presented a new compromise offer to House negotiators, in an attempt to come to agreement on intelligence reform legislation that could be voted on by Congress and signed by the President before the end of the year. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), who co-authored the Senate version of the bill and are leading Senate conferees, said the Senate offer recognizes that the latest House offer made some substantive concessions, particularly with regards to the budget preparation authority of the National Intelligence Director (NID).
Senators Collins and Lieberman today released the following joint statement:
“We commend our colleagues in the Senate for once again working together in a constructive and bipartisan manner to move negotiations forward in order to achieve the comprehensive intelligence reform that the threats of our time call for and that will help to make the country safer. Today, Senate conferees presented a new comprehensive proposal that addresses all the provisions of the intelligence reform legislation on which we are negotiating, and takes significant steps in addressing concerns expressed by the White House and House conferees.
“We recognize the House has made significant movement by agreeing to give the National Intelligence Director the authority to ‘determine’ the budget for the agencies under the new National Intelligence Program, a provision that was a key recommendation of the 9/11 Commission and helps to ensure that the NID has the authority necessary to better coordinate the intelligence community. This was an important provision also supported by the Senate and the White House.
“This Senate offer that we presented today to House conferees represents a major compromise on our part with regard to keeping the intelligence budget classified – a House provision also advocated by the White House. Our proposal keeps the top line of the intelligence budget classified and instead requires the NID to submit a report to Congress on the advisability of declassifying the top-line appropriation for the National Intelligence Program and for each of the agencies within the Program. We also include Administration-backed language that makes clear that the NID will have exclusive budget authority over the National Intelligence Program budget.
“In addition, our proposal takes significant steps to accommodate input from the Administration and House conferees related to border protection, immigration, and terrorism prevention measures.
“We believe this Senate offer accomplishes the goal that we are all striving toward – to achieve real and comprehensive intelligence reform, to give the National Intelligence Director strong budget authority, and to ensure effective coordination among the nation’s 15 intelligence agencies. As with any major legislation, a final agreement will require compromise by both sides.
“We hope that the House will embrace our offer and move forward with us to send an intelligence reform bill to the full Congress and to the President’s desk before the end of the year.”