For the second year in a row, Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.), the top member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, has managed to strip all the earmarks from the FY’09 Intelligence Authorization bill.
Earmarks have plagued both Democrats and Republicans recently and Hoekstra credited the lack of transparency to the public for why he refused to include them in the bill. The bill passed with a 17-4 bi-partisan vote due the necessity of such vital information.
“Given the highly classified nature of this bill, the best assurance we can give the American people that Congress is spending taxpayer money wisely is to spend it on national security, not earmarked requests,” he said.
The bill will determine funding levels and specific authorities for American’s intelligence programs. Restoring public trust is something Hoekstra aims to do, albeit within the confines of a classified piece of legislation. He said, “Even though requests for earmarks are made public, the classified nature of the underlying programs means that transparency for the public does not exist.”
Two Republican amendments to the bill were rejected by the Democrats. One, by Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM), would have added the Senate Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act update legislation to the authorization and the other would have prohibited the intelligence community from adopting speech codes against radical jihadist threats.
Hoekstra said invoking speech codes on our enemies was like “McCarthyism in reverse.”
According to Hoekstra, the bill not only increases security measures but also cuts bureaucratic growth at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
A clean bill with no earmarks is a step in the directions Republicans hope to go but without the amendments prohibiting speech codes and FISA, it still falls short of what could have been accomplished.
The committee approved the bill by voice vote and it will now go to the full House for consideration.