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Larsen: Congress Can Do Better In Taking ‘Intelligent’ Approach to National Security

Rep. Rick Larsen, WA-02, today called on Congress to support the vital work of the U.S. intelligence community with responsible, long-term budgeting. Larsen voted against the Fiscal Year 2016 Intelligence Authorization Act (H.R.2596), which circumvents sequester spending caps by using a war funding account that is not subject to the caps. The bill puts 40 percent more money in the war funding account for intelligence activities than the President requested.

“The success of our intelligence community in keeping our country safe depends on responsible investments.  Using budgetary subterfuge to evade the sequester caps prevents the CIA and other intelligence agencies from planning for the long-term.   

“Congress should address the harmful effects of sequester across all of our national priorities, rather than using tricks to protect just one part of the budget.  This gimmick fails to acknowledge that a well-educated workforce, scientific research and a healthy economy are critical to national security,” Larsen said.

Larsen criticized two other provisions in the bill. It prohibits transferring individuals from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, even if they have been cleared for release by the U.S. government. And the bill restricts access that an independent board has to review the government’s counterterrorism actions. The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board is tasked with helping protect civil liberties and privacy. 

“While H.R. 2596 contains provisions I support, including those that enhance our cooperation with our foreign partners, I cannot support this bill.  It fails to address our budgetary challenges in a responsible way. And it fails to respect the due process rights that our Constitution guarantees.  Congress can do better in taking an ‘intelligent’ approach to national security,” Larsen said.