Last week, Congress passed legislation authorizing spending for our country's 16 intelligence agencies, including the National Security Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The fact that the bill passed with little fanfare in this heated political climate makes a big statement.
The Intelligence Authorization Act for fiscal year 2012 is a good, bipartisan measure that gives our intelligence professionals the resources, capabilities and authorities they need to keep us safe. On the House Intelligence Committee, we worked together not as Democrats and Republicans but as Americans doing what is right for the intelligence community and for our country.
The bill passed the House of Representatives by an overwhelming bipartisan majority of 329 to 23. Once it is signed into law, it will be the third time in 15 months an intelligence authorization bill has made it to the finish line. For the previous five years, these bills were stalled by partisan politics.
When Chairman Mike Rogers of Michigan and I took over as the leaders of the Intelligence Committee earlier this year, we made a commitment to work together. We both agree there is no place for politics when it comes to national security. The stakes are too high. Too many lives are on the line. The elimination of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden earlier this year is proof of what we can do when we all work together.
The bill funds critical intelligence needs — including cybersecurity, intelligence satellites, counter-proliferation and counter-terrorism. We did all of this while being fiscally responsible. The bill cuts about $1 billion from the president's budget request. It trims where possible, eliminates redundancies and enhances current capabilities to protect America and her citizens.
In the new year, we will continue our commitment to bipartisanship for the good of our nation and for Maryland so we can get things done. We hope our colleagues on both sides of the aisle can do the same thing in 2012.
C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, Washington
The writer, a Democrat, represents Maryland's 2nd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.