January 22, 2018 / 8:44 PM / 3 months ago

Key U.S. senators want 'troublesome' intelligence measure out of spending bill

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee leaders urged lawmakers on Monday to remove a provision from the agreement to end the government shutdown that would allow President Donald Trump’s administration to spend intelligence money not explicitly authorized by Congress.

Senators Richard Burr, the committee’s Republican chairman, and Mark Warner, its Democratic vice chairman, spoke in the Senate against the provision that they said could diminish lawmakers’ oversight of U.S. intelligence agencies.

Burr called the provision “troublesome.”

Burr and Warner spoke as lawmakers moved towards a final vote on legislation to renew federal funding to the government. The measure, which would reopen the government through Feb. 8, cleared a procedural hurdle in the Senate on Monday afternoon but must still pass the Senate and House of Representatives before it can become law.

It was not immediately clear whether the matter would delay the Senate’s final vote on the new funding plan.

“We want every tool in our basket that we can to give the American people the assurance that we know exactly what’s going on, and that we are at least in agreement that (intelligence operations) proceed forward, not that they have a free rein,” Burr said.

Burr and Warner requested that the language in the bill be replaced with a measure written by leaders of congressional intelligence committees, but the effort was rejected. Burr ended the discussion “with great disappointment.”

White House officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Peter Cooney

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