Burr Makes Case for Intel Authorization Act on Senate Floor

“I urge my colleagues in this body: Pass this authorization bill as quickly as we possibly can and send the signal to the men and women who serve this country and defend this country that Congress is on their side and not in opposition to them.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, on the Senate floor, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) discussed the importance of passing the three-year Intelligence Authorization Act (IAA) as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2020. 

 Click here or the image above to watch Chairman Burr’s full remarks.

Full statement from Senator Burr:

“Mr. President, I want to thank Chairman Inhofe and Ranking Member Reed for accommodating the Intelligence Committee’s intel authorization bill for 2020 to be in the NDAA, and I would like to thank Leader McConnell and Senator Schumer for their understanding of why this was important to do.       

“Mr. President, I yield myself as much time as I may consume.  The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is a unique committee.  We uphold the secrecy and the confidentiality of intelligence programs that keep our nation safe every day.  We ensure that our Intelligence Community has tools and resources to protect America, both at home and abroad. 

“So I am pleased that the Senate is considering our intelligence authorization bill as part of the NDAA.  Our bill is three fiscal years in the making.  In May, the Senate Intelligence Committee unanimously passed the bill, with a vote of 15 to zero.  Let me say that one more time – we unanimously passed the intel authorization bill 15 to zero.  I appreciate Vice Chairman Warner’s work and collaboration to achieve that unanimous support of all 15 members of the Intelligence Committee.  The bill is a genuinely bipartisan product that protects the United States, strengthens our national security, and supports the activities of the men and women who are serving in uniform around the world and around the globe.

“I would remind the President and the members that it is 15 members of the Select Committee of Intelligence that give the other 85 members of the Senate, and the American people, the assurance that our intelligence activities operate within the Constitution and, or the executive order of the President.

“The last intelligence authorization bill – for fiscal year 2017 – was enacted on May 5, 2017.  We have gone too long without the critical resources and authorities that our intelligence agencies need to do their work and keep our country safe from ever-expanding national security threats.  Not only does our bill fund U.S. intelligence activities across 17 agencies, but it enables congressional oversight of the Intelligence Community’s classified activities.  The bill ensures financial accountability for the programs we authorize and supports development of future capabilities to stay a step ahead of our adversaries.  We do not have time to waste as the threats increase in scope and scale. 

“All of this bipartisan oversight, and all of this accountability, can exist only when we have a current, enacted intelligence authorization bill.

“Our intelligence agencies need the authorization, direction, and guidance from Congress to protect and defend America, its allies, and its partners.  The agencies need these authorizations to collect, analyze, and utilize intelligence, and to recruit and retain the personnel they need.  And – equally important – our authorization bill ensures those activities abide by our Constitution and privacy laws. 

“Now, I’d like to mention some specifics in the bill.  First, it deters Russian and other foreign influence in our U.S. elections.  It facilitates information sharing between Federal, state, and local election officials.  These activities are essential to protecting the foundation of our democracy, our U.S. elections.

“Next, the bill increases oversight of Russian activities, by requiring notifications of Russian Federation personnel who travel in the United States, countering Russia’s propaganda activities within the United States, and by requiring threat assessments on Russian financial activities.

“In addition, the bill improves our security clearance process, by requiring the Intelligence Community to take steps to reduce backlogs, improving clearance information sharing and oversight, and holding the executive branch responsible for modernizing clearance policies.

“The bill protects the Intelligence Community’s supply chain from foreign counterintelligence threats from countries such as Russia and China. 

“Importantly, the bill increases benefits for Intelligence Community personnel, by enhancing pay scales for certain cybersecurity positions and increasing paid parental leave.

“Finally, it establishes increased accountability for our most sensitive programs.

“The Senate Intelligence Committee has acted carefully and comprehensively to oversee our Intelligence Community and its resources.  But the current gap in authorities is unacceptable and – frankly – it’s dangerous.  Our enemies and adversaries do not take two years off.  Congress cannot afford to let our intelligence authorization bills lapse any longer. 

“I’ll end, Mr. President, where I started.  Without the collaboration and cooperation of the Chairman, the Ranking Member, and the entire SASC Committee, we wouldn’t have this opportunity. But they recognize, as well as we do, that the security of America comes first, and any delay in authorizing the intelligence community or passing an NDAA is not what America expects us to do.  They expect us to pass, as rapidly with as much predictability for our men and women in uniform, as we do for those who serve in the shadows of our intelligence community – an authorization bill that is done as quickly, as clearly, and makes their life and their future predictable. 

“America’s safety is too important for us to delay any longer for the military or for the intelligence community. So I once again thank the Chairman for his accommodations in this bill.  I urge my colleagues in this body: pass this authorization bill as quickly as we possibly can and send the signal to the men and women who serve this country and defend this country that Congress is on their side and not in opposition to them.”

The Damon Paul Nelson and Matthew Young Pollard Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 2018, 2019, and 2020 authorizes funding and enables comprehensive, Congressional oversight for the U.S. Intelligence Community.

The Senate Intelligence Committee unanimously passed the IAA on May 14, 2019.  The Senate is expected to consider the inclusion of the IAA in this year’s NDAA later this week.