Lawmakers are using the omnibus spending bill to restrict President Obama’s attempt to transfer control of the U.S. drone program to the Pentagon — marking one of the more direct attempts by Congress to interfere in how the administration handles covert operations.
The provision restricts the administration from using any funding to move drones or the authority to carry out drone strikes from the CIA — which currently has oversight — to the Defense Department. The provision was included in a classified addition to the bill by members of the Appropriations Committee in both chambers, officials told The Washington Post.
Specifics on the restrictions are currently unknown, but a person familiar with the bill said they are more complex than simply withholding money.
The move comes as the administration is trying to transition the CIA back to its more traditional intelligence-gathering mission. But some members of Congress have doubts about the Pentagon’s ability to oversee the country’s drone program effectively and accurately.
A section in the omnibus bill dealing with Defense Department spending notes that “adjustments to classified programs are addressed in the accompanying classified annex.”