House bars Obama from sharing secrets with Russia
The Fiscal 2013 Defense spending bill that passed the House 326 to 90 with bipartisan support Thursday evening included an amendment that would prohibit President Barack Obama from making good on a deal with Russia that he appeared to hint at earlier this year.
Introduced by Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), the amendment bars the administration from sharing classified missile defense information with Russia.
In late March, an inadvertent hot-mic moment caught Obama asking Russian president Dmitri Medvedev for “space” until after the election, saying he would then have more “flexibility” to address issues such as missile defense with the Russians.
Medvedev said he would transmit the president’s request to Vladimir Putin, who assumed the Russian presidency in May.
“I am concerned, Mr. Speaker, that the United States’ critical hit-to-kill and other valuable critical missile defense technology may become pawns in a political chess game of appeasement with the Russians,” Brooks said.
Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) said the amendment would bring peace of mind for those who were still suspicious about the hot-mic exchange.
“This amendment would say, ‘Mr. President, you won’t tell us what your secret deal is, but that secret deal better not include sharing classified information of the United States with the Russians about our missile defense,’” Turner said.
Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.), who shepherded the defense spending bill through committee, called the amendment the most critical one to be considered.
“Our national defense interests have got to be our interests, not somebody else’s,” he said.
Though Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) took the floor briefly to say he was skeptical that Obama would share classified defense information, the amendment passed easily on a voice vote.
Other amendments of note included a measure to defund military NASCAR sponsorship, introduced by Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), which failed narrowly, 200-216; and a move by Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) to cut spending on military music bands by $188 million, which was also rejected, 166-250.
A measure by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) to fully defund Afghan war operations spurred lively debate, but failed easily, 107-312.
The 2013 Defense Appropriations Act aligns closely with the authorization bill passed by the House earlier this year. At $608 billion, it adds up to $3 billion over Obama’s budget request, with $519 billion for domestic military spending and $88 billion for overseas operations.
The bill includes a 1.7 percent military pay raise and retains Air Force equipment destined earlier this year for retirement. It also funds other equipment, such as a Virginia-class submarine, which Young said Pentagon officials needed but were unable to request this year.
Obama has threatened to veto the bill because it does not conform to spending levels set under the Budget Control Act. The Senate is unlikely to address the legislation until after the election as Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said he will block any spending bill brought up before then.