Mr. SANDERS. Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment.
The CHAIRMAN. The Clerk will designate the amendment.
The text of the amendment is as follows:
Amendment No. 2 offered by Mr. Sanders:
At the end of title I, add the following new section:
SEC. 105. LIMITATION ON AMOUNTS AUTHORIZED TO BE APPROPRIATED.
(a) Limitation: Except as provided in subsection (b), notwithstanding the total amount of the individual authorizations of appropriations contained in this Act (including the amounts specified in the classified Schedule of Authorizations referred to in section 102), there is authorized to be appropriated for fiscal year 1999 to carry out this Act not more than 95 percent of the total amount authorized to be appropriated by this Act (determined without regard to this section).
(b) Exception: Subsection (a) does not apply to amounts authorized to be appropriated for the Central Intelligence Agency Retirement and Disability Fund by section 201.
Mr. SANDERS. Mr. Chairman, this amendment is also being offered by the gentleman from Oregon (Mr. DeFazio); the gentleman from New York (Mr. Owens); and the gentleman from California (Mr. Stark).
Mr. Chairman, this amendment cuts the intelligence budget by 5 percent from the level authorized for fiscal year 1999, while still protecting the CIA retirement and disability fund. Although this year's amount authorized by the bill is classified, we do know that last year's budget was $26.7 billion, which means that this amendment would cut approximately $1.3 billion from the intelligence agencies.
Mr. Chairman, this amendment truly speaks to what we are as a Nation and who we are as a people. It speaks to whether the Congress of the United States is here to represent the ordinary people of America, the middle class, the working families, the children, the veterans, the seniors, or whether we are here to continue representing very powerful special interests within the military-industrial complex, the force that President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us about 40 years ago.
Mr. Chairman, it is no secret that the United States today is becoming two very separate nations. On the top we have people who are enjoying incredible wealth. In fact, the wealthiest 1 percent is today better off than at any time in the modern history of this country. We have people like Bill Gates, himself, alone, who owns more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of households in America. One man owns more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of our households.
In recent years, we have seen a proliferation of millionaires and billionaires, but Mr. Chairman, there is another reality in America today, and that is that the middle class continues to shrink, that the wages of the average American worker are 15 percent less than they were 25 years ago, that 40 million Americans have no health insurance, that millions of senior citizens cannot afford the prescription drugs they desperately need.
That millions of our families cannot afford to send their kids to college. That food shelters and emergency shelters are seeing a large increase in the hungry and the homeless who come to them for help. That is the issue that we are talking about today.
We are not just talking about the intelligence budgets. We have to put that into the context of the needs of all the people in this country.
Mr. Chairman, how can we increase funding for an already bloated intelligence budget at exactly the same time as some propose major cuts for millions of low- and moderate-income citizens? How is it okay to say more for the intelligence budget at the same time as this Congress cut $115 billion from Medicare? Tell the senior citizens of this country whose benefits we have cut back on.
How can we look our veterans in the face when in last year's balanced budget agreement we cut funding for veterans programs by 19 percent; when we cut the administration of Social Security by 23 percent; when just last week we cut $2.3 billion in affordable housing, despite the housing crisis experienced by so many Americans.
Mr. Chairman, even in Washington the $1.3 billion that we cut from the intelligence budget is a lot of money, and let me tell my colleagues what we can purchase with that $1.3 billion if we get our priorities straight.
In Vermont and throughout this country, seniors are finding it difficult to pay for their prescription drugs. Legislation has been offered which would provide up to $500 each in prescription drug assistance for seniors. This $1.3 billion that we cut from a bloated intelligence budget could provide 2,600,000 seniors up to $500 each in their prescription drug assistance.
Are my colleagues going to go back to their districts and tell their senior citizens who are struggling to ease their pain that we cannot cut $1.3 billion from the intelligence budget when we can provide 2.6 million of them help for their prescription drugs?
Mr. Chairman, there are 808,000 homebound seniors who receive the excellent Meals on Wheels program supported widely in this Congress. This $1.3 billion could double the number of seniors who receive this help. These are elderly people at home, long waiting list for the Meals on Wheels program. We could double the number.
The CHAIRMAN. The time of the gentleman from Vermont (Mr. Sanders) has expired.
(By unanimous consent, Mr. Sanders was allowed to proceed for 3 additional minutes.)
Mr. SANDERS. Mr. Chairman, nearly 1 million college students could receive Pell Grants to assist them going to college. Just yesterday we passed the education bill. I voted for it, but remember the authorization is nowhere near equal to the appropriation.
We have millions of middle-class families in this country who cannot afford to send their kids to college. And are my colleagues so sure that it makes sense for the security of this country, for the intelligence of this country, that it is more important to vote another $1.3 billion than it is to provide nearly a million kids in this country with Pell Grants?
Nine hundred sixty-nine thousand families could benefit from Section 8 housing programs if we cut that $1.3 billion. In the State of Vermont, we have a long waiting list for Section 8. That is true all over this country. Two hundred forty thousand more children could attend the Head Start program if we cut this $1.3 billion.
So, Mr. Chairman, what I would just like to say at this point is that the Cold War is over. We do need an intelligence budget, but there is very ample evidence that the budget that we are being asked to support today is bloated.
I would say to my friends who are the deficit hawks who get up here every day and who say cut, cut, cut, if they are going to cut Medicare, if they are going to cut Medicaid, if they are going to cut veterans programs, if they are going to cut housing, take a look at the intelligence budget.
Mr. SPENCE. Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to the amendment.
(Mr. SPENCE asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. SPENCE. Mr. Chairman, the gentleman from Vermont made reference to getting our priorities straight. What is a higher priority than defending the lives of all the people of this great country? We are talking about cutting today. I would like to remind the gentleman that the defense budget, which includes the intelligence budget, has taken all the cuts in recent years. Spending has gone up for everything else except defense.
Let me dwell on that for a minute. I do not think people realize the extent to which we have cut back on our military and our intelligence-gathering agencies, the impact these cuts have had on our national defense. And yes, in a world where the Cold War is over, but in many ways a more dangerous world today than it was during the Cold War. And I will tell my colleagues why. Because people do not realize what we have done to ourselves. We have done to our military and to our intelligence agencies what no foreign power has been able to do. We have been decimating our own defenses.
That is unforgivable, Mr. Chairman. In this dangerous world in which we are living, when not tomorrow but tonight, today, at any minute, this whole world could explode for us. It is just that serious. And here we are fat, dumb, and happy going about our merry ways, not concerned about what could happen to us. Let me tell my colleagues what could happen to us.
In this day and time you do not have to be a superpower to raise the horrors of mass destruction warfare on people. It could be a Third World country, a rogue nation, or a terrorist group for that matter. They can put together weapons of mass destruction in laboratories in inexpensive low-tech ways. They can marry these weapons of mass destruction with cruise missiles, which can be bought across borders. They can launch them from various platforms, airplanes, submarines, ships, tugboats, extending the range to the extent that it brings everyone under the threat of weapons of mass destruction.
These weapons of mass destruction are chemical, biological, bacteriological. Can my colleagues imagine having to defend against these kinds of weapons, hideous weapons? Anthrax could be released in the air over Washington, D.C. in a simple way, killing hundreds of thousands of people, and we could not inoculate people fast enough to prevent anything happening to them. That could happen at any time and people are talking about cutting back on our ability to defend against these things or to prevent them from happening. It is unconscionable to even think about it. It borders on leaving our country defenseless when confronting the enemy and all the dangers that we are facing as a country.
Aside from those weapons of mass destruction, we face all kinds of threats from various sources. This is a very dangerous world. We have to do more instead of less in defending our country and our people.
Mr. Chairman, I would urge my colleagues to let reason come to this debate. Think it through. Vote down overwhelmingly this senseless amendment.
Mr. DeFAZIO. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.
Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of the amendment. The gentleman from South Carolina (Mr. Spence) made some excellent points. The whole world, it is a dangerous world. It could explode at any moment. The question, given the past performance of our intelligence agencies is whether they could tell us about the world exploding before or after the fact or even recognize it after the fact. The disintegration of the Soviet Union, they could not predict that. The invasion of Kuwait with the Iraqis massed on the border, they could not predict that. Even the horrible tragedy which was mentioned earlier of the killing by terrorists of our troops, that was not prevented and it certainly was not predicted.
These are horrible things that have happened and the intelligence agencies have not exactly been ahead of the curve. They are engaged in acquiring ever greater technology at ever greater expense and more and more money, as opposed to becoming more efficient and more effective, finely honed, leaner and meaner, getting the intelligence we really need and our Armed Services really need to defend our people.
The gentleman talked about defending our people against chemical-biological attack. We just had an assessment about that. There is no preparation in this country. We are not investing in the civilian law enforcement agencies, the emergency response, the vaccines, and the other things we should be stockpiling to respond. But we are spending money on incredible satellite systems and the satellite systems are gathering so much data that 60 percent of it is never analyzed.
Mr. Chairman, we wonder if they have got up to the point yet of analyzing the data that shows whether or not there is still a Berlin Wall. Just a couple of years ago, the National Security Agency, in doing a cursory review of its books, found that it had an extra $4 billion in accounts which it had secreted around, more than the annual budget perhaps, but that is a classified number so we do not know. But probably more than its annual budget, they had secreted it in various accounts and no one knew anything about it.
So that speaks to me, and I think to other Members of Congress, that perhaps there is a little bit too much money washing around over there if they can misplace $4 billion. We are investigating misappropriations of hundreds of dollars or thousands of dollars regularly, and rising to those issues.
Mr. DICKS. Mr. Chairman, will the gentleman yield?
Mr. DeFAZIO. I yield to the gentleman from Washington.
Mr. DICKS. Mr. Chairman, the gentleman has always been accurate. He said the NSA. He meant the NRO, and I ask him to correct that.
Mr. DeFAZIO. Mr. Chairman, reclaiming my time, excuse me. I thank the gentleman for correcting me. I meant the NRO, not the NSA. That is part of the problem with this debate. This is not a debate which really takes place very often on the floor of the House, and does not take place in full light with full accountability to the public. We know last year's number. We know how much money we spent last year. But we cannot talk about how much money we are going to spend this year. We cannot talk about the number which we are debating here on the floor today. We cannot talk about whether it is an increase or decrease from last year's number because we have last year's number.
It used to be at least we could talk about the percentage increase of the secret number, but now since we know what the number was, we cannot even talk about what percentage increase or decrease it might be in this year's budget. But we are debating it here on the floor and we do have some confusing acronyms, NRO, NSA, DIA, CIA, and others which we cannot even mention which are involved.
The point that I am trying to make, and I think others here are, no, we do want to have a robust intelligence service, but we want to have one that is reorganized, that is not territorial, oriented towards preserving their own separate bureaucracies, but one which is better integrated, one which is more efficient, more effective, and provides realtime data that is of use both to our military services, our civilian law enforcement agencies, and in the defense of the people of the United States of America.
I believe we could do that with more scrutiny instead of having this absurd debate every year where we do not know what we are debating. Let us talk about the individual components of this budget and what they are spending it on. There is no one in the world who can benefit from knowing that. In fact, our potential enemies already know it, but the American people cannot know it and the elected officials cannot know it and they cannot speak about it and debate it on the floor.
Mr. Chairman, that is an absurdity and that is what the debate is about today. If they could defend their numbers and defend them category by category as we do every other department of the United States of America, including the Pentagon and the Defense Department, then there would be a fair debate and the numbers that the gentleman cited in support of that budget would be fair numbers. But those are numbers where the Members did not even know what they were voting on. That happens fairly often around here, but this is one for sure that they did not know what they were voting on.
So I would urge my colleagues to support this amendment to cut the amount of money, whatever it is, by 5 percent and make these agencies more efficient, more effective, and better protect the people of the United States.
Mr. YOUNG of Florida. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.
Mr. Chairman, the previous speaker talked about a lot of complaints that he had about our intelligence community and I think we would all admit they are not perfect. As he was speaking, it reminded me of a trip that I made driving home to Florida one time. I came upon a group of young kids that were on a hay ride. And the hay ride wagon had red, white, and blue bunting and American flags and the kids were having a good time packed up on the bales of hay.
It had this big banner across the back of the wagon, and it said `America, we ain't perfect, but we ain't through yet.' I would apply that to the argument that the gentleman just made.
Our intelligence community is not perfect. There are problems. This bill directs itself to many of those problems, to solve many of those solutions. That is what we intend to do with this bill.
What I really wanted to mention is that I listened to the comment of my friend, the gentleman from Vermont (Mr. Sanders) about senior citizens. He listed a lot of things that we could do if we did not do something else. You could make that argument about anything that we do in here.
Let me tell you this. I represent one of the largest groups of senior citizens of anybody in this body. And those senior citizens are old enough to remember a time in our history that was devastating to us, that was devastating to our morale, and that killed an awful lot of young Americans.
I am talking about a lack of intelligence, poor preparation for intelligence, lack of information that we needed when Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1941. That was a long time ago, and a lot of people do not remember that, but those senior citizens that the gentleman from Vermont (Mr. Sanders) talks about, they remember that.
I hear it on a regular basis when I am home in my district talking about defense issues and veterans issues; and that is, let us do not ever get ourselves in a position where we are not prepared to either know about an attack of that type or be prepared to do something about it.
The world is different today in 1998 than it was in 1941. In 1941, we did not have intercontinental ballistic missiles aimed at each other across the oceans. We did not have submarines carrying nuclear warheads within range of the United States of America, any city in the United States of America. We did not have satellites, and we did not have space shuttles and things of this nature.
In 1941, we had a little time to put it back together. Although we lost thousands and thousands of young Americans, we lost in the beaches of the Pacific and the frozen battle grounds of Europe; and, finally, we turned the tide, and we came back to life, and we defeated the enemy, and we prevailed, and freedom prevailed.
Just think, had our intelligence been adequate then, we might not have had to suffer the terrible tragedy of Pearl Harbor. Let us not let that happen again. Let us keep our eyes and ears as sharp as they can possibly be. Let us be prepared in the event someone is determined to do something that would be adverse to us and our national interest and, more importantly, the people of our great Nation.
Mr. DICKS. Mr. Chairman, will the gentleman yield?
Mr. YOUNG of Florida. Yes, I am happy to yield to my friend, the gentleman from Washington.
The CHAIRMAN. The time of the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Young) has expired.
(On request of Mr. Dicks, and by unanimous consent, Mr. Young of Florida was allowed to proceed for 2 additional minutes.)
Mr. DICKS. Mr. Chairman, if the gentleman will continue to yield, the gentleman makes an important point in that we have to be prepared with what we have today. We are not going to have time to go out and build all the things that we may need in our next conflict.
My colleague, the gentleman from Oregon said that in the Gulf War, we had an intelligence failure. That simply is not true. The President said after the invasion of Kuwait was that he had 2 days of actionable warning from the intelligence community; and that is a fact.
The problem was, and this is what happens sometimes in these crises, we did not act on that intelligence, because we were told by other people who were allies in that region that Saddam would not invade. But there was, in fact, warning there; and I want to make that point. Part of the reason why we had the warning is because we had our intelligence apparatus in place.
I would also say, in very general terms, we had a tremendous military victory because we had an intelligence advantage in the Gulf War that allowed that victory to occur quickly, decisively, saving American lives, saving the lives of the allies, and saving money, actually, for the taxpayers.
By having intelligence superiority, as Colin Powell said, you can provide overwhelming military force and end the conflict rapidly. That is why I have always believed that having a strong defense is the right thing to do; because, as you go back and look in our history, look at Korea, another example where we were unprepared, did not have the right training, did not have the people ready to go, and we almost got run off the peninsula. That was another problem where we were both militarily weak and did not have good intelligence. It would be a mistake of vast proportions to undermine the intelligence community, to undermine the defense of this country.
We have already cut defense and national security by $115 billion.
The CHAIRMAN. The time of the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Young) has again expired.
Mr. DICKS. Mr. Chairman, I ask unanimous consent that the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Young) have an additional minute.
The CHAIRMAN. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from Washington?
Mr. OWENS. Mr. Chairman, I object.
The CHAIRMAN. Objection is heard.
Mr. DICKS. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.
My view of this is that we have already cut defense by $115 billion from the high point back in 1985. That means that we have reduced that overall budget from about $365 billion a year to $250 billion a year. We are not even keeping up with inflation.
There has been a judgment made by the Secretary of Defense and the Director of Central Intelligence about how much of that roughly $250 billion is going to go into intelligence.
This committee, 16 Members; 9 Republicans, 7 Democrats, have held exhaustive hearings into every aspect of that budget. We have a highly professional staff that looks into it all. We have come to a unanimous conclusion that the amount that has been requested by the chairman in his markup is the right amount.
Let us fight in other venues to take money and use it for what the gentleman from Vermont talked about. I am for all those programs. But I do not think we should try to cut it out here. If it was taken out of the authorization for intelligence, all it would do is wind up being spent for other defense items. That is the reality of this. It is a nice idea, but it simply will not work.
Mr. SANDERS. Mr. Chairman, will the gentleman yield?
Mr. DICKS. I yield to the gentleman from Vermont.
Mr. SANDERS. Mr. Chairman, I want to make a brief statement just on that. You are aware that just last week when we voted for disaster relief, which virtually everybody supported, suddenly out of nowhere came an offset from disaster relief to cut $2.2 billion in housing.
It seems to me that if this Congress has the capability of cutting affordable housing for disaster relief, we also have the capability of working together and making sure that when we cut intelligence spending, it goes to people in need, middle-class and working families.
Mr. DICKS. Mr. Chairman, what I say to my good friend is this, we have cut defense over the last 15 years by $115 billion. That is how we balanced this budget. Defense has already been cut. I think there are a lot of other parts of this budget that ought to be looked at.
Mr. SANDERS. I suggest to my friend, the gentleman from Washington, we are spending $267 billion this year on defense in addition to our NATO allies and all their expenditures in addition to the intelligence. That is a lot of money.
Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Mr. Chairman, will the gentleman yield?
Mr. DICKS. I yield to my friend, the gentleman from Massachusetts.
Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for yielding. He pointed out that there has been a reduction from what seemed to me a greatly swollen budget under Secretary Weinberger, but it is down about 30 percent. At the same time, we have had the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The defense is to deal with our enemies. I wonder if he believes that we are, in fact, facing less of a military threat today than we were in 1985? I wonder if he would quantify that.
Mr. DICKS. If the gentleman would give me a chance, I would respond to that. I say yes, we are facing less of a ground-based military threat from the Soviet Union.
Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Only ground-based? Does the gentleman think the Soviet air and sea power is the same?
Mr. DICKS. Sea power and air power, yes, basically the threat from conventional forces has been reduced.
That is one reason why we have cut the defense budget, because we think we can go to a lower level. But I would say to my friend, the gentleman from Massachusetts, that there are other problems out there.
We have got Iran. We have got Iraq. We have got North Korea. We have got the problems of China. We have got instability in Russia today that I worry about. They still possess thousands of nuclear weapons. We are taking some risk here in cutting back on our defenses.
Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Mr. Chairman, would the gentleman yield?
Mr. DICKS. Mr. Chairman, I only have a little bit of time here, but I yield again to the gentleman from Massachusetts.
Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Mr. Chairman, let me say to the gentleman, the basic point I want to make is it seems to me very much a partial picture to talk about the reduction in the defense spending without talking about the concomitant reduction in the need for defense spending.
I have to say that if you look at the Soviet Union today, not just in conventional, but you have got the defection of the nuclear parts that were in Ukraine and Belarus, the Soviet Union today is far less than two-thirds as threatening to us as it was in 1985. There has been, I believe, a diminution in the external threat we faced greater than the diminution in the defense budget.
Mr. DICKS. Mr. Chairman, I would say to the gentleman from Massachusetts I think there are still areas in the defense budget that can be cut; that is why I have supported BRAC.
Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Mr. Chairman, if the gentleman will yield, let us get out a news flash.
Mr. DICKS. I know.
Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. I think we may get an extra here.
Mr. DICKS. Mr. Chairman, there are some areas in base closure where we can do some other cuts. I would like to take that money, frankly, and put it into modernization where the chairman of the Joint Chiefs and all the service chiefs have written a letter to the Secretary of Defense saying we should be, instead of being at $43 billion a year, be at $60 billion. We are not there.
We went through this before, after the Vietnam War, when we created a hollow force, and then it opened the door for Mr. Reagan to come in and say we have to vastly increase defense spending because we did not handle this properly. We did not develop an adequate force.
Mr. Chairman, I am not going to ask for any additional time because I know my colleagues will not appreciate it.
Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. We wish you would not ask for additional money.
Mr. HYDE. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.
(Mr. HYDE asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. HYDE. Mr. Chairman, I do not want to be redundant. It has been well said by many Members here in defense of the budget and in opposition to the well-intentioned but I think unwise amendment of the gentleman from Vermont (Mr. Sanders).
I think the thing to remember is that we have a Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in the House and in the Senate. It is peopled by sensitive, patriotic, intelligent, budget-minded people. They have done their job. They have looked at the budget, program by program by program.
We are not dealing with the CIA. We are dealing with the intelligence community, including the CIA, the FBI, the DIA, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. There are a myriad of programs, all requiring some study to understand if they are cost-effective or not.
They have done their job. The Senators will do their job. The conferees will do their job. But to come in and try to perform brain surgery with a croquet mallet, with an across-the-board 5 percent cut, makes a political statement but it does real damage to the defense of our country.
Yes, a lot of seniors, a lot of children can benefit by increased domestic spending, but we all benefit, including children, including seniors, from a secure and peaceful world.
Yes, the Cold War is over, but let me suggest to you the bear is only sleeping. The forest is full of snakes and other dangerous animals. There are 13 ICBMs trained on us from the People's Republic of China. I have not heard that all of the intercontinental nuclear missiles are disabled in the former Soviet Union. Narco-terrorism, terrorism, technological developments have made this a much more complicated world in terms of staying ahead of the curve.
Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Mr. Chairman, will the gentleman yield?
Mr. HYDE. I yield to the gentleman from Massachusetts.
Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for his disquisition of what the bear is doing in the forest, but I do have a question.
Mr. HYDE. Was the gentleman not interested in the snakes either?
Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. No, that is not under our committee's jurisdiction as I last looked, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HYDE. I thought you were an expert on the subject.
Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. My question was this: You said that because we have a committee composed of intelligent, patriotic Americans, we should not be for an across-the-board cut. My recollection is that in the past, the gentleman from Illinois has voted for across-the-board cuts. Did that reflect his lack of respect for the members of those committees?
Mr. HYDE. Not at all. I think sometimes it is important to make a statement and sometimes it is not. This is not the time to make a statement. This is a time to recognize the sensitivity, the importance, the significance, and the intention which the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence of both bodies give to this issue and to prefer that looking at these things in depth, understanding the consequences of emasculating them by across-the-board cuts, I think that is so important and I think it is the right way to do it.
Mr. Chairman, I yield, again, to my friend from Massachusetts for whatever illumination he chooses to give us.
Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the gentleman's point, and I think it is important to remember he apparently dismisses the notion of across-the-board cuts as simply making statements. I think we ought to have that down on the record, that his view is that an across-the-board cut is simply for the purpose of making a political statement and is apparently never a serious legislative answer.
Mr. HYDE. No, sir, not at all. My position is sometimes it is appropriate and sometimes it is not. This is inappropriate.
So I simply suggest that we trust our committee. And, by the way, when we talk about cutting defense, I heard the other day there are soldiers and their families on food stamps. We ought to be ashamed of ourselves if that is true.
Mr. SANDERS. Mr. Chairman, will the gentleman yield?
Mr. HYDE. I yield to the gentleman from Vermont. Beautiful Vermont. Not that Massachusetts is so bad.
Mr. SANDERS. I would, by the way, agree with the gentleman about the shame of having our soldiers on food stamps, and maybe we should put more money into their needs and less into B-2 bombers. But that is another story.
The point I want to make is the gentleman raised China as a potential threat. I am not here to be on an anti-China kick. But I would point out to the gentleman that this Congress voted MFN status for China; that corporate America is putting tens of billions of dollars into bolstering the China economy rather than reinvesting in America.
Mr. HYDE. Reclaiming my time, Mr. Chairman, I would say to the gentleman that some of us did and some of us did not. I stand with those who did not.
I thank the gentleman for his kind attention.
Mr. OWENS. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.
(Mr. OWENS asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. OWENS. Mr. Chairman, I rise in favor of the amendment, and I want to thank my colleague from Vermont (Mr. Bernard Sanders) for leading this annual dialogue with the American voters. Unless we raised these questions, one would never know that the CIA budget is about $30 billion, and there are no questions raised outside of the very closed circle of the people on the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
The Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence represents one of those command and control operations of the type which brought down the Soviet Union. There is a close circle of people who have a vested interest in keeping something going. They have no outside criticism. Nobody even knows what they are doing.
Other intelligence communities have opened up, even the Soviet Union has opened up information about its intelligence operations, but we still have a secret operation which perpetuates itself.
I want to thank the gentleman from Vermont for offering the American people 130 schools. We can build a state-of-the-art school for $10 million. $1.3 billion would give us 130 schools. Why not take the $1.3 billion out of the budget of this organization, which clearly has far more money than it needs at this time? The budget is about the same level it was at the time of the evil empire of the Soviet Union.
They clearly do not know what to do with all the money because, and nobody ever explains this to us from the committee, they had a petty cash problem. They lost $2 billion in their bookkeeping. Found they had $2 billion more than they knew they had a few years ago. A couple of years ago. Actually, it was $4 billion. After the first announcements were made, nobody noticed that later on they came and said, well, actually we found $4 billion. Four billion dollars, and nobody on the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence has ever bothered to explain that to us or to the American voters. What happened to $4 billion? How can you lose $4 billion? That is a lot of schools.
So we have an agency that probably is very much needed. Nobody says we want to get rid of it. All we are talking is a 5 percent cut, a 5 percent cut to say discipline yourself, take care of your petty cash better and build 130 schools.
We can break this circle of closed decision-making, the command and control operation, that whole spirit of cloak-and-dagger operation where they will not let us see the whole budget. If a Member of Congress goes to look at this budget, he is duty bound never to speak about it again. What kind of cloak-and-dagger operation is that, that we need at this time in the life of the globe?
There are some people who know the secrets of the CIA because they get it from the members of the CIA. All the people that Aldridge Ames, remember Aldridge Ames? They do not talk about him very much, but he was a top-ranking CIA person in charge of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, and he turned out to be a guy who was a hustler. For a few dollars, a few million dollars, he was telling the enemy everything they needed to know. We cannot find out here, but Aldridge Ames was telling them.
Now they have a mentally unstable ex-policeman. An ex-policeman who his colleagues, in the former police department where he came from, said this guy was a nut. How did he ever get in the CIA? He is divulging our code secrets. He has divulged. He is now arrested, and there is a lot being said about him and a lot not being said about him. So we do not know what damage he has done. But he has divulged the codes
and the whole cryptology and a whole bunch of very secret things the enemy knows, because the CIA is so incompetent it allows these kinds of things to get out.
So we are dealing with wasteful spending and a closed circle of Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence members who are determined to perpetuate wasteful spending. It is part of their religion. It is a dogma. They go on and on and not looking closely at what they are spending the money for.
There is big spending and there is wasteful spending. Democrats often get accused of being big spenders. Big spenders are the people who want to keep the Social Security system going. Big spenders are the people who want to spend money for Medicare, Medicaid, Title I. Big spenders are people who want to use the American resources for the greatest number of people.
Blind spenders, wasteful spenders, are the kind of people on the Republican majority that say we should spend $10 billion for an investigation that is going nowhere in the case of campaign finance reform. They do not want to talk about campaign finance reform, they just want to dig up dirt, play around and release tapes.
Ten billion dollars. That is one whole school that will be taken away as a result of wasteful spending for an investigation. The CIA and its continued big budget represents the same kind of wasteful spending.
Republican wasteful spending is one thing that the voters need to take a hard look at. Do not listen to people who talk about big spending. If we ask them what they are spending the money for, we will find out whether it is big spending, blind spending, or wasteful spending.
We are, Democrats as well as Republicans, very much conscious of the label of being big spenders. A lot of Democrats who are labeled as big spenders, if they do not want to stay with the label, here is an opportunity for my fellow colleagues, Democrats and Republicans. Here is an opportunity to send a message to our constituents. We can send a message to the voters that we will not be a wasteful spender. We will not go on and perpetuate the budget of the CIA, the secret budget that nobody can really know. We will not go on. We will at least cut it 5 percent and give America 130 schools. One hundred thirty schools to America.
Mr. BEREUTER. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words, and I rise in opposition to the amendment.
Mr. Chairman, we have had a lot of interesting rhetoric here, and I think that, in a charitable mood, generous mood, maybe, that this kind of debate each year is salutary, because it is an opportunity for members who do not serve on the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence to ask questions of those who do.
I think, despite what the gentleman said, perhaps in a little bit of overblown rhetoric, the gentleman from New York, this is not a command and control operation of the Soviet Union. The kind of oversight that the House and Senate give to the intelligence operations of the United States is the best among all the parliamentary bodies in the world.
Mr. OWENS. Mr. Chairman, will the gentleman yield?
Mr. BEREUTER. I yield to the gentleman from New York.
Mr. OWENS. Would the gentleman take time to tell us about the $4 billion in petty cash funds that were lost? Could the gentleman tell us about the unstable ex-policeman who has now been arrested? Can the gentleman expound on these subjects?
Mr. BEREUTER. Reclaiming the balance of my time, the gentleman had his 5 minutes.
Mr. OWENS. Well, the gentleman should not waste his on rhetoric. Give us some information.
Mr. BEREUTER. I am not a member of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. I do not expect to respond to the gentleman's questions.
My understanding, Mr. Chairman, is the money has been recovered. It is not lost.
In any case, what I want to say is that countries from around the world send their parliamentary bodies to try to understand how we conduct oversight of the intelligence functions of our government, and they do that because of the quality of what is done by the people appointed by the minority leader and the Speaker of this House.
Now, they choose people who they think will give the interest, the competence, the time, and have the intense focus necessary to give oversight to these important functions of the Federal Government.
We have a limitation. First 6 years, now 8 years, like the other body, on the length of time that Members can serve on the intelligence committees, and that is so that these Members do not become co-opted by the agencies over which they conduct oversight. That is a protection for all of us.
Now, I have been a member of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. I do not serve there any longer because of that term limitation. I spend a lot of my time on foreign policy and trade issues, and I want to speak to my colleagues from that perspective today.
Mr. Chairman, our policymakers, from the President on down, depend upon accurate and timely intelligence when making their most critical decisions. The Secretary of State relies on the information to assist her in crafting foreign policy, to judge the performance of that policy and, as added ammunition, during crucial international negotiations. It is true of the STR, it is true of the Treasury Secretary, it is true of the Department of Defense.
In fact, the Secretary of Defense needs political and military intelligence in order to deploy troops and plan for future military needs. And the list goes on. For all these leaders, intelligence is a vital tool that enables them to respond to crises and to anticipate future needs. A broad cut to our intelligence capabilities would hamper our government's abilities in these areas.
The sponsors of this amendment argue that the intelligence budget should come down. After all, the Cold War is over. Well, intelligence spending has declined, along with other defense spending. But the world is still a very dangerous place, as many of my colleagues have pointed out, and new threats to our Nation's security and the safety of its citizens have emerged. Terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, international organized crime, and drug trafficking all pose increased risk to the United States. We need to collect information about these new threats if we are going to combat them and combat them successfully.
The gentleman from Oregon raised some interesting points a few minutes ago. He talked about some areas he felt that we had not had adequate intelligence. First of all, policymakers have to make use of the intelligence that is provided. I sat in that Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence during the dissolution of Yugoslavia. Nothing could have been better than the intelligence given to our policy leaders during that period of time. But European nations and our leadership, from President Bush to President Clinton, had to act upon that intelligence to have its effect. That was not done adequately.
Secondly, I would say when it comes to the terrorist activities that took place in Saudi Arabia, we were not blind in intelligence, but action has to be taken.
Finally, I want to say as a person who follows trade, we have disarmed ourselves in certain parts of this world. We disarmed ourselves on economic intelligence in southeast and east Asia, and it is no wonder we had no intelligence adequate to take steps to avoid the kind of monetary fiscal crises that took place in Thailand, the Republic of Korea and Indonesia. That is because, in part, I suggest, we disarmed ourselves.
The same is true in parts of Latin America, where we have devastated our human intelligence by disarmament, not conducted by this body, but conducted by the executive branch over a period of time.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, I oppose this cut on the basis that it is not good government. As a former member of this committee, I believe it is fair to say that I know firsthand the process that is required to develop an annual intelligence authorization. And I can attest to the scrutiny and to the rigorous oversight that the members of this committee, chosen by the leadership of the House, give to this budget. They have done a particularly good job this year. And I would say that the staff that assists them is always among the best in the House. I have great confidence in their recommendation.
Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.
(Mr. CONYERS asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Chairman, this debate is not what I would like, I say to the floor managers and chairman and ranking member of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, because in this 5 minutes back and forth, usually we do not get answered.
Let us understand that the Central Intelligence Agency's relationship with drug pushers has not even been mentioned here. It is as if we are in a universe where nobody knows about this except we read it in the paper or we get a GAO study every now and then, or somebody writes about Los Angeles and the introduction of cocaine, which creates a momentary flak. And then we come here to the annual ritual and what do we have? We have people saying the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence is one of the most respected bodies in the world system, not the Congress. It is studied all over the world because these are sensitive people, understand. They are very sensitive about this subject. It is all secret. We do not know what is going on.
We do know that there was $26.7 billion appropriated. And then somebody snuck into the emergency supplemental appropriation, fiscal year 1998, an unknown amount of money.
Rumored, `Oh, never heard of that before.' Okay. Rumored, $260 million. Suspected a lot more. But nobody knows. And then this discussion my colleagues have passed off as an open, fair debate on this subject. Now, if I hear that the CIA is not perfect one more time, I am going to excuse myself from these proceedings. Of course it is not perfect. It is awful.
Mr. LEWIS of California. Mr. Chairman, will the gentleman yield?
Mr. CONYERS. I will not yield to the gentleman from California. I will excuse myself from the proceedings after the debate on this measure is concluded.
But look, we know the CIA is not perfect. But that is not the question. The question is, how bad are they? `Oh, wow, that is an insult. We cannot talk like that.' They are not perfect. Why, any amateur historian knows that we had perfect knowledge that the Japanese were coming to Pearl Harbor. And a respected Member of this body gets up and says, well, it was military intelligence, if it had been stronger. Pearl Harbor is a perfect example of our intelligence system at work.
Now, the intelligence community failed in Iraq. I mean, for anyone to suggest that we won the war on intelligence, really they have not even been listening to the military much less to anybody else.
This committee has done us a great disservice, and then to fight hard to keep a 5 percent reduction from occurring. Let us really show them by a two-to-one margin that the American people want to keep this secret budget going full blast, whatever it is, and that the American people are approving of this.
Well, I think this does the body a disservice. I do not think that we should do it. I refer my colleagues to the GAO news release. `CIA kept ties with alleged traffickers.' And then we come here and debate about how they have got to do some more about drugs and we hear, `Let's give them another chance.' Did I hear that last year, the last year, the year before the year before, the year before, the year before? Of course. `Let us give them one more chance.'
Well, I think this is not the way to debate. There is a tangled web of the CIA's complicity in drug international trafficking that not one member of the Select Committee on Intelligence has even alluded to in debate, even referenced. It does not exist. We are here to get this secret budget through and that is it.
Mr. WELDON of Pennsylvania. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.
(Mr. WELDON of Pennsylvania asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. WELDON of Pennsylvania. Mr. Chairman, I rise to support the actions of the committee and to praise the Members on both sides of the aisle for the very deliberate effort they have made in, I think, crafting the best budget we could in a very difficult budget environment. I am not a member of the committee, never have been, although one day that is something perhaps I would like to serve on behalf of my colleagues on this side of the aisle, and that is a role on the committee itself.
In fact, Mr. Chairman, over the past several years I have been very critical of the agencies, both the CIA and DIA. I have reviewed their NIEs. From time to time I have disagreed. I asked for backup and I have challenged them publicly and privately.
But I will say this to my colleagues, Mr. Chairman, in response to those who say that the CIA and the committee operates in a closed environment, I have been in this Congress for 12 years, I have interacted with the intelligence agencies on a regular, ongoing basis in my office. From time to time I have gone over to meet with them in this building. They have been fully accessible to answer questions that I have asked them about emerging threats around the world. So I would say to my colleagues that any Member of this body that wants to get access to what the intelligence community is doing only has to ask and they will find that they are more than happy to respond. In fact, I am very pleased with the current leadership of the Director of the CIA. I think he is putting a new era of management and control in terms of the way the agency is being operated.
But why am I so interested in the intelligence budget and the intelligence agency? My job in this body, Mr. Chairman, is to oversee approximately $36 billion a year of defense spending that is being put forth to protect our people and our allies against emerging threats. I would like to be able to know that we are spending that money on threats that are real, on threats that we understand from our best intelligence sources may be those threats that our young people have to face in the future. And only through good, solid intelligence can we get that data.
We heard debate on the floor; in one case I heard someone say that Russia is two-thirds less than what it was. Well, I do not know where people base their opinions, but let me give my colleagues my perception.
I guess I am one of the few Members of Congress who speaks the language. I have been there 15 times. In fact, next week I will be hosting all the major members of the state Duma. I work with Russia on a regular, ongoing, weekly basis.
I would make the case publicly that Russia is more destabilized today than at any point in time under Communism. I do not just make that statement radically. In fact, Mr. Chairman, I had General Lebed testify before my committee. If my colleagues do not know who General Lebed is, he is a Russian general, two star, who ran against Boris Yeltsin and then became Boris Yeltsin's chief defense advisor.
Along with members on both sides of the aisle last May, in one of my visits to Moscow last year, we sat in General Lebed's office and he told us the story about one of his responsibilities to account to Boris Yeltsin for 132 suitcase-size nuclear devices that Russia built and he was able to account for only 48 of them. And we said to him, `General, where are the rest?' He said, `I have no idea.' He said, `They could be under control or they could be in terrorists' hands.' He said, `They could be in somebody's basement. We just do not know where they are.'
I came back and interacted with our intelligence community and got an update on what they are doing to try to ascertain whether or not Russia does have control of these devices. Now, Russia, the government, denied they even built them for the following 4 months after General Lebed made the statement.
Finally, when I met with the defense minister, General Sergeyev, in December, he admitted to me that, yes, they built them and they hoped to have them all destroyed by the year 2000.
Mr. Chairman, we are not talking about some pie-in-the-sky Steven Spielberg movie plot. We are talking about real-life situations. What about the situation in January 1995, when because of Russia's deterioration and their intelligence assets, they responded to a Norwegian weather rocket by activating their all-out nuclear capabilities, which meant that Russia, which they publicly acknowledged, was within 15 minutes of an all-out nuclear response against the U.S. to a weather rocket that Norway had forewarned them of a month earlier?
That is reality, Mr. Chairman. These are the kinds of threats that we have to have assets to help us understand. If we talk to the intelligence community because of the shift in focus in this country to the
Far East, what are we doing in the case of Russia? To meet the declining budgets, the limitations, we are taking away assets that we used to have to understand the former Soviet Union. So at a time when Russia becomes more of a risk, where we do not understand what is happening there, we are decreasing our ability to understand the situation.
Let me tell my colleagues what else General Lebed said in a public hearing here in this country. And by the way, he just is in the process of winning the governorship of one of the largest regions in Russia, Krasnoyarsk. This is what he said. He said, `You know, Congressman, one of our biggest problems? All of those most competent admirals and generals in the Soviet military have been forced out of service because of our economic problems.' And we have heard members talk about that. But he said, `Here is the problem. These most competent generals and admirals have not been given housing, they have not been given pensions. So what are they doing?'
Mr. WELDON of Pennsylvania. Mr. Chairman, I ask unanimous consent for an additional 2 minutes.
The CHAIRMAN. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from Pennsylvania?
Mr. OWENS. Mr. Chairman, I object.
The CHAIRMAN. Objection is heard.
Ms. WATERS. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.
Mr. Chairman, I rise to support the amendment that is being offered for a meager 5 percent cut from the intelligence budget. I rise to support it because it makes eminently good sense.
First of all, no matter what my colleagues say, those who are opposed to this amendment, those who can appear and rant and rave about why we should not only support the budget but be for more money for that budget, first of all, it has been said over and over again, the Cold War is over; the Soviet Union is no more.
Where is this great threat to our country? Who can identify anybody in the world who is prepared to take on the United States of America? Someone alluded to Iran and alluded to China. Well, I can talk a lot about China. And if we feel they are such a great threat, why are we chasing them down, embracing them, running after them to do business with them, to be involved in trade activities with them?
Let me tell my colleagues where the threat is. The real war that is being waged on America today is the drug war. Where is our great intelligence to tell us who the drug lords are and how they manage to continue day in and day out, week in and week out, to dump tons of drugs into this Nation that finds its way into our cities and our rural communities, addicting our children, creating more crimes, with people who get addicted and are looking for ways to support those habits.
Why cannot this intelligence community tell us who these drug lords are? Why is it these cartels can continue to operate without any interference? It is so embarrassing to have our own Drug Czar go down to Mexico and wrap his arms around General Gutierrez Rebollo. And just a few days after he is down there talking about how great he is, this is our own drug czar, the drug czar was busted because he is connected to the Juarez cartel.
Now, our Drug Czar was in the service. He is a general. He knows about the DIA, the CIA, and everybody else. But he goes down there, wraps his arms around him, talks about how great he is, he has known him for years; and he is the dope dealer. He is the one that is connected to the drug cartel. This is outrageous. It is embarrassing.
And do not tell me how good the intelligence community is. It does not matter whether we are talking about Mexico or Peru or Colombia. Why cannot our intelligence community tell us about the heads of government and the leadership of those countries who are involved in trafficking drugs, at the same time we are giving support to them, we are showing up with them in every kind of cockamamie scheme, talking about we are helping to eliminate drugs, when the fact of the matter is, it is getting worse.
If this intelligence community was about the business of dealing with any war, it would be the war on drugs. That is the war that is being waged on America. I am sick and tired of hearing that we cannot streamline, we cannot cut, we cannot do anything about the intelligence community. And there are those who just romanticize the intelligence community, those who think we cannot ask any questions, we cannot cut them, we cannot dare challenge them.
It is outdated, long overdue for cuts and being streamlined. And yet we come to the floor, person after person, talking about how great it is, how we should continue to support it.
Well, my colleagues know that I have been involved in this drug war for a long time, and they understand that the number one priority of the Congressional Black Caucus is to get rid of drugs in our society. We do not have any help from the CIA. As a matter of fact, we are still investigating the CIA and their involvement in drug trafficking.
As my colleagues know, we just had a hearing, and I would like to thank our ranking member for embracing some of the ideas that I have, and in that hearing we are investigating what was the CIA doing when all the drugs were being trafficked in South Central Los Angeles and profits were going to fund the contras? Where were they?
Well, I will tell my colleagues where they were. They were at the same place they were when they were in Southeast Asia, turning their backs on drug trafficking, even being involved in it, to have additional money. They like slush funds. It is not enough that we give them over $30 billion in this intelligence community.
If we want an intelligence operation that is dealing with the real war, turn their attention to the drug war and maybe we will want to support them in the future.
Mr. CUNNINGHAM. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.
Mr. Chairman, on one area I agree with the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Waters). Mexico has a problem with drugs, and it is a problem in America.
But I tell my colleagues, the White House cutting all the drug responses, from interdiction right down the line, that we Republicans had to restore, is the answer, not cutting them. Telling our children that it is okay to inhale or that he would if he could is not the proper message to send to our children in antidrug programs.
Liberal trial lawyers that get the drug dealers and kingpins off and yet we cannot get through in this body stiff penalties for those druggers, that is wrong as well.
Let me speak to the issue at hand on intelligence. First of all, it is amazing. I would almost let the other side of the aisle speak up here for 2 days on this issue. People that have never set foot in a military uniform, people that have never had to direct intelligence units, people who have never had to go in and plan the defense of major countries but yet they are, quote, the experts. `There is no Cold War. The Cold War is over.' But yet what they do not tell you is the threat that is out there. I tell my colleagues, you state your own opinion as fact and you are factually challenged.
First of all, there are over 14,000 nuclear warheads in Russia alone. Because the Russian head said that they are not pointed at the United States, do you know how long it takes to change those targeting data? About 2 minutes. Fourteen thousand of them. Russia in the last 2 years built six nuclear class red October submarines and deployed them. Built them. But there is no threat. Russia this week, a nuclear ship, the largest missile cruiser in the world, launched a missile cruiser out of Russia. But the Cold War is over. Russia is building today the size of the Beltway here in Washington, D.C. under the Ural Mountains a first strike nuclear site. Why? `Oh, the Cold War is over. There is no threat.' There is one to the northeast half its size. But there is no threat. We are dealing with 1970s technology in our military, with the F-14 and the F-15 and the F-16, but yet they deploy the SU-35 and the SU-37 that uses vectored thrusts that outclass our fighters and they have an AA-10 and an AA-12 missile that outclasses our AMRAAM. But there is no threat. You are the experts. You would send our troops 300 percent increase in deployments over Vietnam and kill them and not provide for the services that they need and cut the defense budget and cut procurement by 67 percent for your great social programs because there is no threat.
Give me a break, Mr. Chairman. We talk about intelligence and military and foreign policy all to protect this country. Poor foreign military policy does not help, either. Haiti. Haiti could sit there for another 200 years and not be a threat to this country. But yet a political move. And guess what? Aristide is still there. There is still poverty and it costs us billions of dollars. Somalia, the extension of Somalia in which the majority then under the Democrats extended Somalia. Guess what? Aideed died but Aideed's son is there and we got 22 rangers killed because the White House would not give armor to protect them. Twenty-two of our people, billions of dollars.
The gentleman from Vermont (Mr. Sanders) talks about hurting veterans. Sixteen billion dollars for Haiti and Bosnia. And we have a bill that we cannot get a billion dollars for for FEHP for veterans, which I think he would probably support. But $16 billion and guess what? That comes out of our military and kills us, and kills any chance of helping the veterans. Yet you are the experts and you say there is no Cold War. I have got a tape here of 16 SAMs fired in pairs. Mr. Chairman, I lost three good friends because we did not have the intelligence to know they were there. I am sick and tired of self-proclaimed experts on intelligence and defense standing up and saying, `Oh, look. Look at those that support defense. Look at those that support intelligence.'
The CHAIRMAN. The Chair will remind all persons in the gallery that they are here as guests of the House and that any manifestation of approval or disapproval of the proceedings or other audible conversation is in violation of the rules of the House.
Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words. Mr. Chairman, after the previous speaker, I think I should rise to the defense of some Republicans. He said people who had not been in uniform should not be involved in this debate. I do not think that the Speaker of the House, the majority leader of the House or any of the rest of us who were not able to serve for one reason or another ought to be disqualified. I have never found that the Speaker, because he had never served in the military, was somehow incompetent to discuss military affairs.
I also thought it was rather unkind to Ronald Reagan. We dedicated a building to him yesterday. I had previously thought that people, including former President Reagan, considered ending the Cold War in the way that it ended to be one of his accomplishments. But we learned today that apparently that was a mistake. Indeed, the previous speaker denigrated the notion that the Cold War ended, so I guess that is a claimed accomplishment of President Reagan that is not really real. I am rather more sympathetic to President Reagan in that regard.
Some people suggested, one of the previous speakers, that we are even worse off, that Russia is more dangerous today. Maybe we ought to ask the Communists to come back. Maybe we should see if we can get at least Mr. Gorbachev back in power, Mr. Zyuganov. In fact, what we have heard today is some of the worst history I have ever heard.
I want to, by the way, differ with some of my colleagues who support this amendment. I think the intelligence community does an excellent job on the whole. They have a very difficult job. The reason they sometimes do not know the answer is we cannot know the answer. We cannot know the unknowable. People who are planning to do bad things do not always cooperate by tipping their hand. I do not criticize them for not having known everything that was going to happen. I think they have, in fact, done a pretty good job.
What we are experts in here, by the way, is not military expertise. We are the experts so empowered by the American people at dividing up the resources of this country. We made a decision a couple of years ago about how much we were going to spend. We are not, I think, spending to the fullest, to the extent that we need to in any one area. We then have the job of allocating scarce resources. That is what we have the democratic mandate to do.
The suggestion that somehow this impinges unfairly on the expertise of the committee, no one really seriously believes that. In fact, when people get up and defend the committee on one day, they are the people who would criticize a different committee on a different day.
Let me say, in addition to the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, I also have respect for the committee. Indeed I have respect for, I was about to say all the committees of the House but let me say today I have respect for all the committees but one and I hope we can soon resume respect for that one.
The question is how do we allocate our resources. There are a couple of erroneous historical arguments. People have made the analogy to 1941. That is about the worst history I have ever heard. In the 1930s, America was one of the weaker powers in the world. We are not remotely comparable to 1941. We are not, as the United States, anywhere near where we were 55 and 60 years ago vis-a-vis Germany and Japan. Today the United States is by far the strongest Nation in the world. We are stronger than all of our potential opponents, and everyone agrees we should stay that way.
One of my friends said we were emasculating the Defense Department. We are not emasculating. We are saying that maybe in this world, we can taper off on the Viagra dose that they have been on for many years, but nobody is talking about America being anything less than overwhelmingly the strongest Nation in the world. Fifteen years ago, when we peaked in defense spending, we had not just the Soviet Union but its satellite nations. Remember what we all believe, you do not look at the enemy's intentions, you look at the enemy's capability. The defense budget we had 15 years ago assumed that East Germany and Hungary and Czechoslovakia and Poland could be part of a Soviet assault. There has been a very substantial diminution in the capacity of the Soviet bloc to damage us.
Yes, it is still a dangerous world. That is why we are still going to be, if this amendment passed three times over, by far the strongest Nation in the world. The question is, let us look at where we are in America. Many of us believe that there has been a greater diminution in the external threat, which is still there. People posturing about saying, `Well, there is no threat,' no one has said there is no threat. There is a threat. The question is, is it now with the collapse and dismantlement of the Soviet Union, the denuclearization of Belarus, the denuclearization of Kazakhstan and the Ukraine, the freeing of the satellite nations so they are now in NATO as opposed to opposing NATO, has there been a diminution? I think the argument is overwhelmingly that there has been.
Many of us believe that while we should still be the strongest Nation in the world militarily, the time has come to shift some resources into domestic crime fighting, into fighting cancer, into dealing with some of our domestic problems. We believe that in the current world, the average American faces more domestic threats than international ones. No one is suggesting that we should have anything less than by far the strongest military and intelligence in the world. We are saying that too much is no longer defensible.
The CHAIRMAN. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from Vermont (Mr. Sanders).
The question was taken; and the Chairman announced that the noes appeared to have it.
Mr. SANDERS. Mr. Chairman, I demand a recorded vote.
A recorded vote was ordered.
The vote was taken by electronic device, and there were--ayes 120, noes 291, not voting 21, as follows:
Messrs. PALLONE, SMITH of New Jersey, and PICKERING changed their vote from `aye' to `no.'
Mr. SCHUMER changed his vote from `no' to `aye.'
So the amendment was rejected.
The result of the vote was announced as above recorded.