Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment.
The Clerk read as follows:
Amendment offered by Mr. Frank of Massachusetts: At the end of title I, insert the following:
SEC. 105. REDUCTION IN AUTHORIZATIONS.
(a) In General: Except as provided in subsection (b), the aggregate amount authorized to be appropriated by this Act, including the amounts specified in the classified Schedule of Authorizations referred to in section 102, is reduced by 4.9 percent.
(b) Exception: Subsection (a) does not apply to amounts authorized to be appropriated by section 201 for the Central Intelligence Agency Retirement and Disability Fund.
(c) Transfer and Reprogramming Authority: (1) The President, in consultation with the Director of Central Intelligence and the Secretary of Defense, may apply the reduction required by subsection (a) by transferring amounts among the accounts or reprogramming amounts within an account, as specified in the classified Schedule of Authorizations referred to in section 102, so long as the aggregate reduction in the amount authorized to be appropriated by this Act, equals 4.9 percent.
(2) Before carrying out paragraph (1), the President shall submit a notification to the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence of the House of Representatives and the Select Committee on Intelligence of the Senate, which notification shall include the reasons for each proposed transfer or reprogramming.
Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts (during the reading). Mr. Chairman, I ask unanimous consent that the amendment be considered as read and printed in the Record.
The CHAIRMAN. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from Massachusetts?
There was no objection.
Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Mr. Chairman, this amendment would essentially hold this year's authorization at the current spending level. It is a 4.9 percent reduction from the authorized figure, with an exception made for the retirement disability fund. That fund is held at the authorized level of the bill which is what is necessary. So it has no negative effect there.
This amendment, if adopted, would give to the executive branch officials the ability to reprogram within the totals. So they need not apply the restriction across the board.
It is a 4.9-percent cut. Because of the vote just taken, I may not say in public what it is 4.9 percent of, because then the Iranians would have valuable information and endanger our security. But I can say that it is a cut of well over a billion dollars. The key question is, will we, as we move to a zero deficit and severely reduce the amount of money available for discretionary programs, not only exempt from any reduction national security but continue to give them rates of increase well above the rate of inflation?
This is a proposal before us, an authorizing bill, that raises the money from the current spending by nearly 5 percent. As we continue that pattern, Members must understand that inevitably means that environmental cleanup and health care of a discretionary sort and education and public safety and transportation get hurt.
We read recently of the difficulty of the Committee on Appropriations in the allocations. They wanted to give more for the veterans and more for health care and more for job training and education. They had to do that at the expense of infrastructure and environmental cleanup and energy and water. This is the reason we face such terrible choices. As you increase the national security budget, you inevitably require greater decreases everywhere else.
Members have said, well, it is still a dangerous world even after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Yes, it is. But let us reject now the argument that says it is a more dangerous place. We have heard Members say that it is a more dangerous place now that the Soviet Union has collapsed. This House floor may be the only place where we have nostalgia for the good old safe days of a heavily armed Soviet Union because apparently people felt more secure then.
Members say, well, we no longer have the Soviet Union but we have North Korea, we have Iraq, we have Cuba, those threats, and they are threats that grew only since 1990. What we had 8 and 9 years ago was all of the threats, the Soviet Union and all of those other nations. Now we have a substantially diminished Russian threat and those other nations. This amendment does not even call for a reduction, although I voted for the previous amendment that would have.
What we have here is an effort to give more and more money to national security, inevitably at the expense and intelligence of every other program. I would argue, if you look at the collapse of the Soviet Union, outside threats have diminished some. This does not even call for a reduction. It calls for level funding.
Let us again remember that this is the agency which accumulated a $4 billion surplus in funds. This is the agency that was given more money than it needed by its own admission because it took $4 billion and did not spend it. That is undeniably an acknowledgment that they got more money than they needed. How do we deal with this agency which got more money than it needed and squirreled $4 billion away? We give them one of the largest increases any Federal agency would get, a 5-percent increase in the authorization, 4 percent more than the President asked to give. This is an increase of more than a billion dollars over what the President wanted to give them.
At a time when I believe environmental threats and public safety threats and incomplete education, those are much graver problems, we have to choose. You cannot reach a zero deficit within the time frame we have chosen, increase, reward the national intelligence agencies for their $4 billion squirreling away by giving them a big increase and still have the funds to do other things. I urge adoption of this amendment.
Mr. COMBEST. Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to the gentleman's amendment.
Those who follow the floor debate on intelligence from year to year are aware, in general terms, that the intelligence budget has been on a steady decline, that capabilities are being shut down, and that managing intelligence nowadays means making Russian roulette decisions on which cuts are least likely to endanger lives.
Being on the committee has allowed me to see the specifics behind these generalized facts. More importantly, it has allowed me to delve in person into the intelligence processes and products and see with my own eyes their strengths and weaknesses. Some of those weaknesses can be sifted out of the mass of largely ludicrous public attacks which intelligence is sometimes subject. The strengths, though, tend to be largely unknown in the country at large and unheralded in the press. Without being too specific, let me mention a few I have personally run across.
Example one: Cooperative clandestine activities undertaken by the CIA and other U.S. Government agencies resulted this last year in the detection and foiling of planned attacks on U.S. public and private citizens. Lives were saved.
Example two: The CIA worked with cooperative foreign governments to, effectively speaking, shut down a terrorist organization that has had a long history of successful attacks on U.S. citizens.
Example three: Young intelligence community scientists constructed state-of-the-art computer hardware and custom software capabilities that are allowing the Intelligence Community to do what outside experts--and our country's enemies--believe to be impossible. I should point out that these same scientists work in this specific intelligence agency at a salary a fourth or fifth of what they have been offered in the private sector--they refuse to leave the work they consider so personally satisfying and important to national security.
Example four: Intelligence Community scientists and clandestine operators cooperated to detect, penetrate, and neutralize the activities of a pariah regime to develop weapons of mass destruction.
Example five: The Intelligence Community, working closely with law enforcement agencies and foreign governments, provided the essential intelligence that led to the crippling of international narcotics trafficking organizations.
Mr. Chairman, I am in strong opposition to this proposed cut. The committee recognizes the fact that each year from year to year that there is a very small amount of the actual intelligence budget in its operations programs that have become familiar to Members of Congress, much less to the American people. We take this responsibility very seriously.
There are a number of areas within the intelligence budget that have been substantially reduced this year. We have tried to make priorities in some areas that we feel are extremely important to move this Nation in the future of its role for intelligence . This is not something that can be done year by year. This is something that needs to be done on a long-term basis to make for certain that the future provides the continual need for intelligence capabilities that this country has for so many years done very, very well. We are diligent in terms of our oversight. We are serious about the fact that we want to make for certain that each of these dollars is expended wisely.
These are dollars, however, that we feel that we can justify to our fellow colleagues and to the American people that are critical and crucial for the American intelligence capabilities which are at the heart of our national security and national defense.
I think the committee has done a good job of coming up with a proposed budget in the authorization bill that we have this year. I would strongly support the committee's position on that bill, and I would again reiterate my opposition to the proposed cut amendment.
Mr. ROEMER. Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of the amendment offered by the gentleman from Massachusetts [Mr. Frank].
Mr. Chairman, in 7 1/2 hours of going door to door on Saturday in my State of Indiana I heard over and over again from one door to another as I listened to Hoosiers tell me what they want to see done in Washington, DC, people said to me we want to see more openness and honesty out of our elected officials, and we want to see some courage, and we want to see some discipline on their part to cast the tough votes, to cut spending first in Washington, DC, not to raise our taxes, but to cut spending first in Washington, DC.
Now, if I was a challenger and I had just watched the last few minutes of debate here in this esteemed institution, both the votes that Members of this body have just cast over the last few minutes fly in the face of what the American people want. Is it so much to ask and then tell the American people the overall cumulative budget of the Central Intelligence Agency? They do some wonderful work for us as taxpayers. Should not the American people know what that overall budget number is? That does not sacrifice any security on the part of the American people to get that one figure, that little bit of knowledge.
But this body does not agree with that, so that openness and that honesty does not come forward.
Second, some discipline and some courage around here. Now, the last vote would have cut some of the CIA's budget, and in ideal times, since they do such extraordinarily important work for us, I wish we could give them more money, but we cannot. We are trying to make some tough decisions in this place to work toward balancing the budget. So instead of even cutting, which this body just rejected, this amendment, which I rise in strong support of, simply says this:
`Let's keep it at last year's level. If we can't cut into the intelligence budget, let's keep it at least last year's level, let's make sure that we sacrifice together and that we're fair in terms of our budgeting.'
So I rise in strong support of the gentleman's amendment. If my colleagues are deficit hawks and they want a balanced budget, this is a good vote. If they want fairness and they do not want to decimate Medicare for senior citizens, they do not want to slash education and Head Start for children, they want to make sure we have an adequate defense, then there have to be some votes around here at least to maintain last year's funding level, and that is what the Frank amendment does.
This is a fair and honest and disciplined approach, and I would strongly encourage the colleagues in this body to address not just the deficit of the budget, but the deficit of will and courage around here to cut some budgets other than education and Medicare. So I urge this body to support this amendment.
Mr. WATT of North Carolina. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.
Mr. Chairman, my colleagues, I am not a member of the committee of jurisdiction for this bill, and I do not come to the floor often to talk about matters involving international security. Most of my time is consumed with domestic issues and legal issues and banking issues because I serve on those committees. I do not come to the floor this time to talk about the technicalities of the CIA's budget. I have not been upstairs, into the secret room, to review the details of that budget.
Mr. Chairman, I come to talk about ordinary common sense, which is what budgeting is about. I come to talk about the setting of priorities, which is what budgeting is about. And I cannot believe that at a time when we are talking about cutting every single program that affects the domestic security of our Nation that, given choices that we must make, we could be talking about raising and increasing the level of funding for the CIA's budget by 5 percent.
At a time when we are talking about balancing the Federal budget and doing much of it on the backs of the American people who are most vulnerable, I cannot believe that we are talking about increasing the budget for the Central Intelligence Agency by 5 percent.
So this is about common sense and priority-setting.
There are children who are starving in this country. There are children who are under-educated in this country. There are children who do not know where their next meal is coming from and do not qualify for the school lunch program because we do not have enough funds to make that possible. There are elderly people who need health care. There are Head Start programs that need to be funded. And when we make the choice to devote more of our resources to funding the Central Intelligence Agency, we do so at the expense of every single one of those programs.
So, Mr. Chairman, I want to appeal to my colleagues in the wake of these past three votes that have gone down that deprive the American people of even basic knowledge about what we are even spending on the CIA's activities, something that I personally think is sinister and unacceptable, to at least bring a level of reasonableness to this debate and to this vote in terms of the priorities we are setting for our country.
I cannot believe that we do not have higher
priorities for whatever amount of money it is we are debating here; I am told it is over a billion dollars that is at play in this amendment alone. And given a choice between spying on somebody, even if it is for worthy objectives, and I have no problem with that, or feeding our children and educating our children and providing for the health care and security of our people right here in our own country, I beg and plead with my colleagues to make the priority our children and our domestic programs.
Mrs. SCHROEDER. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.
Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong support of the gentleman from Massachusetts' amendment, and if this does not pass, then I am going to offer an amendment that says at least freeze the NRO budget at the 1996 fiscal year number.
What the gentleman from Massachusetts [Mr. Frank] is saying is let us freeze the entire agency's budget except for retirement and personnel and those things, but let us do the spending part of that budget on projects. Let us freeze it at the fiscal year 1996 level. Wow, what a radical concept. We are still in fiscal year 1996.
Now I want to ask my colleagues, do they really think the world is so much scarier we got to add a whole lot more money for next year? Now we cannot say how much, we cannot say what the overall numbers are because the last amendment failed, and of course we are trying to keep this all secret. I find this very, very frustrating.
As all my colleagues know, every day we pick up the paper and Great Britain is dealing with mad cow disease. Here today on this floor we are dealing with sacred cow disease. Spending when we come to the Defense Department or when we come to the intelligence agency, oh my goodness, this is a total sacred cow, we are going to keep it classified, we cannot say anything, and we are going to keep increasing it; have a nice day.
This is for an agency that just 2 weeks ago admitted that what we thought was a billion-dollar slush fund was really more like a $4 billion slush fund. We have been giving them more money than they were able to spend any way. So why can we not at least freeze it at the 1996 level? I think this makes a tremendous amount of sense. Do we really think 1997 is going to be so much scarier than 1996 we got to increase the spending? I would hope not, and that is what we are talking about.
If we are ever going to be serious about deficit reduction, we have got to challenge our sacred cows as well as everything else. There cannot be anything that we hold back, and this is an area where, trust me, I have seen the numbers, we got mega bucks and giga bucks buried in this, and we are dealing with an agency that has not gotten exactly an A-plus for candor with the Congress or for disclosure or for management of the funds.
Look, I think the new Director, John Deutch, is a class A person. I think the CIA has many class A people. I think we need some intelligence , of course. I think the spy satellites in the sky are very important, yes. But I do not think things are so unstable that we need to increase this budget this year when we have got so many other demands.
Let me tell you about my city of Denver. Last week we had to shut down Head Start. We had to shut down Head Start and send every little kid home in the first week in May because they ran out of money.
Now, I think the education of 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds is every bit as important to our national security as increasing the amount of money we spend on the CIA. And I think that my colleagues will find Denver, CO, is not that different than other places. All sorts of places have had to make terrible choices because their budgets have been frozen or cut or crunched, and what they had to decide in Colorado was were they going to throw some of the little kids out that were eligible or were they just going to run the program until they let all the kids who were eligible come, and then when it was over send them home, that is it, and shut the door. That is what they decided to do.
I do not know what the good decision is. If there are a whole lot of children that are income-eligible and we have to pick and choose between them and they are all American citizens, that is a rotten choice, that is a rotten choice because those are our future and those are our children.
I think the gentleman from Massachusetts' amendment makes all the sense in the world, and anybody who does not vote for it, I do not know how they can call themselves a deficit hawk, I do not know how we will ever get the budget in order if we allow sacred cows to keep grazing in the budget year after year, hidden behind a screen, not being able to be exposed out in front, and I really think just holding this at last year's level, this freeze level, makes all the sense in the world.
Mr. Chairman, I only wish I thought of it. So I hope all of my colleagues vote for the gentleman's amendment.
The CHAIRMAN. The Committee will rise informally.
The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Goss) assumed the chair.