Senate Intel Committee Unanimously Passes 2019 Intelligence Authorization Act with Collins, King Provisions Included

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Angus King (I-Maine), both members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, applauded the Committee’s passage of the Matthew Young Pollard Intelligence Authorization Act (IAA) for Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019 by a unanimous bipartisan vote of 15-0. The bill, which includes key provisions authored by both Senators Collins and King, authorizes funding, provides appropriate legal authorities and enhances Congressional oversight for the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC). It is named after Matt Pollard, a dedicated Committee staffer who passed away in April.

 

“The process of crafting, considering, and advancing this bill is an example of the bipartisan approach that produces important and effective legislation,” said Senators Collins and King. “The Intelligence Community is a vital part of our national defense, and this year’s IAA will help them do their jobs and keep Americans safe by reforming security clearance protocols, improving our ability to deter and respond to international aggression, and boosting efforts to protect America’s democratic elections. At the same time, this year’s legislation enhances Congress’s ability to conduct oversight of IC activity, which is especially important given the classified nature of the IC’s work. We are proud to have worked on this legislation, and urge Senate leadership to take up this bill quickly.”

  

Background:

 

The 2019 IAA includes provisions that will help:

·         Deter and counter aggression from foreign state actors, such as Russia and China, both at home and abroad;

·         Protect the U.S. government’s supply chain from sabotage and counterintelligence threats;

·         Improve our security clearance process to make the Intelligence Community more robust, skilled, and agile;

·         Institute reforms for science, technology, engineering or mathematic (STEM) recruitment and retention in Intelligence Community positions, such as cybersecurity experts; and

·         Enhance election security to protect our voting process from foreign intelligence threats and efforts to influence the election process.

 

To help ensure accountability for the unauthorized disclosure of classified information, Senator Collins authored a provision requiring two semiannual reports from our government.  The first one requires the Intelligence Community to report to Congress on investigations made into unauthorized disclosures and the other requires the Department of Justice to report to Congress every six months on the status of criminal referrals made by the Intelligence Community regarding such disclosures. 

 

The legislation also includes a King-authored provision that would prevent an IC official from making classification decisions related to his or her own nomination – a challenge that was recently highlighted during CIA Director Gina Haspel’s nomination process.

 

In May 2018, the Committee released the first installment in its Russia report, which provided recommendations to improve U.S. election security in the face of interference from foreign actors. Among the Committee’s recommendations to address ongoing vulnerabilities were creating effective deterrence, improving information sharing on threats and securing election-related systems. A summary of the Committee’s findings can be found here.

 

Last week, the Committee held a hearing to examine the policy response to Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections. Michael Daniel, former Special Assistant to the President and Cyber Security Coordinator under President Obama, testified that it is “highly likely” Russian actors scanned election systems in all 50 states for vulnerabilities. He also told the Committee that the U.S. should expect and be prepared to combat continued attempts at election interference.