Minnesota Democrat Betty McCollum was denied a recorded vote Wednesday on her proposal to defund the CIA’s unmanned drone program, which has been ramped up by the Obama administration to target suspected terrorists overseas.
Both Republicans and Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee rejected her drone amendment in a voice vote, which means members don't have to record their positions. McCollum said the vote effectively protects the CIA’s lethal program from congressional accountability.
“It is no surprise the White House opposes this amendment,” she said. “The executive branch wants to maintain its CIA drone program and its target list without congressional oversight, without transparency or accountability. Right now the CIA is running an assassination program and the world is watching.”
The CIA drone program was recently the subject of a filibuster by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky, demonstrating the touchiness of the issue both for liberal Democrats and libertarian conservatives.
The CIA has conducted hundreds of lethal drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia over the past decade against terrorists or individuals presumed to be involved in terrorism. By some estimates, as many as 3,500 people have been killed, including civilians and children.
McCollum’s amendment to a 2014 defense spending bill would give sole responsibility for any lethal military action using unmanned drones to the Pentagon, specifying that operations must be conducted by “members of the Armed Forces under the authority provided pursuant to title 10, United States Code.”
She said she will try to offer her amendment again on the House floor. The 2014 defense appropriations bill provides $598 billion for the Department of Defense, intelligence agencies, and war operations in Afghanistan. The CIA portion of the funding is classified.
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