Related: House to Consider GAO Audits of Intelligence, Secrecy News, May 27, 2010

Floor Debate and Passage of the Amendment, May 27, 2010

House Passes Legislation to Increase Oversight of Intelligence Community

Washington, D.C., May 27 - Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), Chair of the Subcommittee on Intelligence Community Management (ICM), overcame a veto threat to pass legislation to allow the GAO to investigate intelligence agencies at the direction of Congress.  The amendment was cosponsored by Reps. Howard Berman (D-CA), Jane Schakowsky (D-IL), Rush Holt (D-NJ), John Tierney (D-MA), and Mike Thompson (D-CA).  It passed by a bipartisan vote of 218-210.

The amendment would allow the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to investigate intelligence agencies at the direction of Congress.  The GAO plays a critical role in helping Congress examine the functions of government agencies-including financial management, personnel systems, acquisitions, and information technology-in an objective and thorough manner.

"I believe this issue is one that goes directly to the heart of one of the most important functions of the Congress, and that is oversight.  This also goes to the very core of the principle of Separation of Powers," Rep. Eshoo said.  "Today Congress stood up for those principles with the passage of this legislation."

"Congress should not deny itself, nor let the White House deny it, the ability to conduct necessary oversight of intelligence activities," said Rep. Holt.

"Oversight is an essential responsibility of the legislature and the Government Accountability Office, as Congress' investigative agent, is essential to that role. The Intelligence community should not be insulated from oversight. The amendment was crafted carefully to protect sources and methods and I am glad that the red herring of fear of disclosure was not ‘bought' by the majority voting," said Rep. Tierney.  "It is time this Congress asserted itself and insisted its constitutional duty be fulfilled."

"All of us who serve on the intelligence committee do so to ensure we have the best intelligence community for our national security," said Rep. Thompson. "This amendment helps us do that."


Click here for video of Rep. Eshoo's Statement on the Floor of the House about the amendment.

Click here for video of Speaker Pelosi's Statement on the Floor of the House in support of the amendment.

Source: Office of Rep. Anna Eshoo