Skip to content

Senate Passes Intelligence Authorization Without Debate

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Wednesday was a busier day in the Senate than many people know.  

The chamber continued a productive Wednesday — following up on a sweeping emergency veterans’ aid bill by passing an intelligence authorization without any fanfare.  

The voice vote approval of the fiscal 2014 bill came as part of the customary Senate wrap-up process, passing following a request on the floor from Senate Majority Harry Reid, D-Nev., without significant floor debate.  

In order for legislation to pass through the unanimous consent process used at the end of each Senate session day, it generally must clear through the Senate’s internal hotline, which in the modern era is an internal email system through which senators and their staffs are notified of measures that the leaders of the two parties would like to advance.  

In theory, that means all senators or their relevant legislative aides should have read the intelligence measure before it passed by voice vote, though there’s never a guarantee. There is also nothing new about intelligence-related legislation moving through so quickly and quietly.  

In the case of the intelligence bill, text of an 83-page substitute amendment offered by Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and ranking member Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., only became available to CQ Roll Call after a bit of digging after the Senate had adjourned for the evening, which was around the same time photocopies were said to be being made for distribution by Senate pages.  

The underlying legislation would make a slew of changes affecting the intelligence community. That includes language providing for an overhaul the security clearance process and for requiring the director of the National Security Agency to be subject to the Senate confirmation process.