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house Bill H.R. 5077

The Top Secret Intelligence Budget for FY2017

Argument in favor

The intelligence community plays an integral role in ensuring the security of Americans and needs funding to do its job — even if the public can’t know how all of it will be spent.

Jackson's Opinion
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05/24/2016
While I'd certainly like the CIA and its ilk to be more transparent to the public, I understand why they cannot be.
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KoltinT's Opinion
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05/24/2016
The powers that be need their funding in order to operate. In uncertain and violent times, we need them working at full force. While transparency would be nice, there needs to be a certain amount of secrecy surrounding intelligence departments in order to maximize effectiveness.
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Ross.Bravo's Opinion
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05/24/2016
It is understandable why the lack of transparency might be an issue but In this case it is a much needed cost.
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Argument opposed

Intelligence agencies should provide at least a general outline of how they’re spending taxpayer dollars on classified programs for the sake of transparency.

operaman's Opinion
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05/23/2016
Pig in a poke. Been doing it for decades. Security for non-transparency? Sometimes I feel that only we taxpayers are the ones prevented from knowing what the major government's already knows. Cynical? Maybe.
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Austin's Opinion
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05/24/2016
We're the one's paying for this thing. It's we the people, not we the government. You don't have to disclose weapon secretes, just say what you're putting the money towards.
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Kim's Opinion
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05/24/2016
I think we should have an idea. If there is no accountability as to how our money is being spent it can lead to very dangerous waters.
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What is House Bill H.R. 5077?

This bill would authorize funding for intelligence activities conducted by the U.S. government, including agencies like the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Director of National Intelligence (DNI) for fiscal year 2017. Aside from the CIA and DNI, the following federal agencies also receive funding from this bill:

  • The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA);

  • The branches of the Dept. of Defense (DOD) that are involved in intelligence activities;

  • Intelligence divisions of the Dept. of State, National Security Agency (NSA), the Treasury Department, and the Dept. of Justice (DOJ).

Specifics about the total appropriations authorized by this bill are classified, so minimal information is available to the public. The classified information is known as the “Classified Schedule of Authorizations” and has the levels of funding and personnel used by these agencies to carry out operations.

The plans had to be made available to the House and Senate intelligence committees that oversee appropriations, but otherwise, it's really under wraps. Even the President can't publicly disclose anything from this budget (outside of what is necessary to implement it or comply with the law).

All those classified things aside, there's some information available to the public. We're all allowed to know that a total of $514 million would go to funding the Central Intelligence Agency Retirement and Disability system. Employees whose salaries and benefits are paid for by this spending package would be able to see their pay and benefits increase.

Additionally, this legislation prohibits any intelligence activity that isn’t authorized by the Constitution or U.S. law. Whistleblower complaints would go directly to Congress from intelligence community inspectors general. Congressional defense and intelligence committees would also receive reports about major defense intelligence acquisition programs at each milestone of development.

The DNI would be required to publish a list of all logos, symbols, and other markings associated with foreign terrorist organizations on a publicly-available website. DNI would also be tasked with helping the DOD modernize their security clearance technology architecture.

The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) would be required to develop a plan to carry out certain space-based monitoring missions currently carried out by the Air Force. The NRO could carry out pre-acquisition activities and would then provide a cost estimate to relevant congressional committees.

Relevant congressional committees would receive a report from DHS about the agency’s counter-messaging activities against the Islamic State and other extremist groups.

Impact

People who live in the U.S., federal intelligence agencies, and Congress.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 5077

$521.00 Million
The CBO estimates that implementing the unclassified portions of this bill would cost $521 million over the 2017-2021 period.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) introduced this bill to ensure that the intelligence community receives the funding that it needs to protect Americans from foreign threats:

“This bill will keep the Intelligence Community fully funded so it can carry out its vital work protecting Americans from a wide range of pressing foreign threats. At the same time, the bill ensures that Congress has the means to conduct vigorous oversight over the Intelligence Community’s activities.”

This legislation passed the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence via voice vote.


Of Note: All the secrecy surrounding intelligence appropriations have led to this bill's (and it's predecessors) nickname, the ‘Black Budget.’ However, the public has a pretty good idea of what might receive funding, and at what levels — thanks to the release of a top-secret budget summary of the 2013 fiscal year from Edward Snowden.

That year, the intelligence community received more than $52 billion in funding, $14.7 billion of which went to the CIA, while the National Security Agency and National Reconnaissance Office received $10.8 and $10.3 billion, respectively. The majority of the total funding from that year was given to intelligence gathering and counterterrorism, at a level of $20.1 billion and $17.2 billion, respectively.



Media:

Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Flickr user Daniel Rehn)

AKA

Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017

Official Title

To authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2017 for intelligence and intelligence-related activities of the United States Government, the Community Management Account, and the Central Intelligence Agency Retirement and Disability System, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Select Committee on Intelligence
  • The house Passed May 24th, 2016
    Roll Call Vote 371 Yea / 35 Nay
    IntroducedApril 27th, 2016

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    While I'd certainly like the CIA and its ilk to be more transparent to the public, I understand why they cannot be.
    Like (13)
    Follow
    Share
    Pig in a poke. Been doing it for decades. Security for non-transparency? Sometimes I feel that only we taxpayers are the ones prevented from knowing what the major government's already knows. Cynical? Maybe.
    Like (36)
    Follow
    Share
    We're the one's paying for this thing. It's we the people, not we the government. You don't have to disclose weapon secretes, just say what you're putting the money towards.
    Like (17)
    Follow
    Share
    I think we should have an idea. If there is no accountability as to how our money is being spent it can lead to very dangerous waters.
    Like (9)
    Follow
    Share
    The powers that be need their funding in order to operate. In uncertain and violent times, we need them working at full force. While transparency would be nice, there needs to be a certain amount of secrecy surrounding intelligence departments in order to maximize effectiveness.
    Like (8)
    Follow
    Share
    It is understandable why the lack of transparency might be an issue but In this case it is a much needed cost.
    Like (5)
    Follow
    Share
    Intelligence agencies should provide at least a general outline of how they’re spending taxpayer dollars on classified programs for the sake of transparency.
    Like (4)
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    Share
    General spending outline for the public.
    Like (3)
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    I would love to believe that oversight would be enough to combat the extreme inefficiency in intelligence spending. Unfortunately, the leaked budgets from previous years have shown that this is simply not the case. The way we use intelligence money is ineffective at best, and there is little accountability. We cannot continue to throw exorbitant amounts of money at something that has yielded so little return. I would assume that a budget made by the same type of people under the same secrecy would produce very similar results to those we have seen already.
    Like (3)
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    Trying to trim the budget but not being transparent about where funding is increasing? Cuts must be made, and here is where to start.
    Like (2)
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    Any secret budgeting should be seen as treason. Transparency or bust
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    This smacks of huge government slush fund. Transparency, without sacrificing national security, is only reasonable.
    Like (2)
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    Nearly all of the declassified documents that have been released to the public to date have revealed the the government has lied to the American public "for our own good". Members of Congress have the "need to know" classified information, as well as access to such information as elected officials. They should be provided a summary of each line item with a proposed amount to be allocated. This cloak and dagger program has proven to be more than suspect in the past and it is only growing more suspect.
    Like (2)
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    Hopefully the whistleblower and constitutional requirements will actually be met
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    We deserve to know how much of our money is really being spent on these agencies.
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    No matter how top secret a project is, taxpayers have a right to know how their money is spent. There are cases where transparency isn't that important to most citizens: when it's complicated and doesn't concern them. It's easy to determine that most bills fall into that category, but I think that's mistaken. Given how large our defense budget is, it's important we have transparent budget to ensure citizens at least have a chance to determine whether or not their money is being used wisely.
    Like (2)
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    Top secret intelligence is our first line of defense and does so while keeping most of our own personnel out of harms way. Intelligence will continue to be in high demand while we fight a non conventional enemy.
    Like (1)
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    Every government agency should have a budget and a plan. If your plan and budget isn't up to par, why should you get more just because you feel your office is more important than any other government agency. No on this bill.
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    They can't responsibly spend the funds that are transparent! They continue to tell us that everything is in the name of "security" and "freedom" despite the fact we continue to lose our freedoms and our foreign policy actions are making it more dangerous for Americans worldwide
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    WE need more information available to the public, but we also need the job done.
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