A fired-up Sen. John McCain said Thursday he plans to oppose the omnibus appropriations bill, largely because of a provision apparently embedded in its classified annex that would prevent President Obama from his goal of transferring drone authority from the CIA to the Pentagon.
“It will make me vote no,” the Arizona Republican told reporters. “I can’t support legislation that affects national security in such a profound way…. There’s a number of issues, but this certainly is a deciding factor for me.”
The provision was reported by The Washington Post, and McCain said he was angry he had to learn of the measure that way, which he argues unfairly straps the hands of the Armed Services Committee members.
“A secret annex on an appropriations bill?” said McCain incredulously. “Appropriators are supposed to authorize money. This is a making of a major policy concerning our war on terror, and it’s hidden in a secret annex.”
McCain said that his opposition to the spending bill was not because of the merits of the drone policy but because it was inappropriate for appropriators to meddle with other committee’s policy areas.
“I’m not opposed or for the policy. What it requires is hearings in the Intelligence Committee and the Armed Services Committee,” McCain said. “So that everybody has their input and we can reach a conclusion. There are arguments to be made on both sides. But an arbitrary decision by members of the Appropriations Committee who are not well-known for their expertise on national security and make a major decision of this magnitude, shows: 1) arrogance; 2) how broken this process is.”
Sen. Thad Cochran, the vice chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee said in an interview he did not realize the provision would cause a fight.
“I did not know that was a problem,” he said, but he added he was not counting on McCain’s vote anyway. “He rarely votes for appropriations bills.”
But the Mississippi Republican said he was happy to hear McCain’s view.
“If his view is something not necessary is in the bill, we’ll have an opportunity to work it out with the other body in conference,” Cochran said. “We always listen to his advice, he’s a good senator.”
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin said he could not comment on the provision or confirm whether it was in the bill, because the subject is classified.
The Michigan Democrat said he does have some concerns with the legislation, although he could not say whether they were related to the drone provision, but he said he still plans to vote for it.
“Oh, yeah, sure,” Levin said.
What We're Following See More »
"Eight people were rescued and three remained missing after a U.S. Navy plane crashed into the western Pacific Ocean on Wednesday, the Navy said. The C-2 “Greyhound” transport aircraft came down about 500 nautical miles (925 kilometers) southeast of Okinawa as it was bringing passengers and cargo from Japan to the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier, the Navy said in a statement."
Special counsel Robert Mueller "is now demanding documents from the department overseeing his investigation." A source tells ABC News that "Mueller's investigators are keen to obtain emails related to the firing of FBI Director James Comey and the earlier decision of Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from the entire matter."
"President Donald Trump would not insist on including repeal of an Obama-era health insurance mandate in a bill intended to enact the biggest overhaul of the tax code since the 1980s, a senior White House aide said on Sunday. The version of tax legislation put forward by Senate Republican leaders would remove a requirement in former President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law that taxes Americans who decline to buy health insurance."
"Members of Congress with histories of mistreating women should be extremely nervous. Major outlets, including CNN, are dedicating substantial newsroom resources to investigating sexual harassment allegations against numerous lawmakers. A Republican source told me he's gotten calls from well-known D.C. reporters who are gathering stories about sleazy members."