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Committee Denies Vote on McCollum Amendment to FY14 Defense Appropriation Bill to Prohibits Funds for CIA’s Lethal Drone Program

June 12, 2013
Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN), a member of the House Appropriations Committee, was denied a vote on an amendment to the fiscal year 2014 defense appropriations bill to end funding for the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) program that kills targets with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones.  Committee members, both Republicans and Democrats, refused to support a motion calling for a vote on the amendment, effectively protecting the CIA’s lethal program from congressional accountability.

McCollum will offer the same amendment before the full U.S. House when the defense appropriations bill comes to the floor.

McCollum concluded her remarks to the committee stating, “It is no surprise the White House opposes this amendment.  The executive branch wants to maintain its CIA drone program and its target list without congressional oversight, without transparency or accountability.  Right now the CIA is running an assassination program and the world is watching.  Soon China, Russia and Iran will have the same capability and will use the CIA’s standard of killing anyone profiled as an enemy.”

The McCollum amendment gives sole responsibility for any lethal military action using UAVs to the Department of Defense, specifying that operations must be conducted by “members of the Armed Forces under the authority provided pursuant to title 10, United States Code.”

During the past decade the CIA has conducted hundreds of lethal drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia against terrorists or individuals presumed to be involved in terrorism.  During the decade long program as many as 3,500 people have been killed. Estimates provided by journalists and non-governmental monitors cite as many as 771 civilians, including 200 children, killed by U.S. drone strikes. 

During his confirmation hearing, CIA Director John Brennan stated, “The CIA should not be doing traditional military activities and operations.”

The FY14 defense appropriations bill provides $598.3 billion for the Department of Defense, intelligence agencies, and to fund war operations in Afghanistan.  The CIA is funded in this bill but the amount and purpose of appropriated funds is classified.

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Congresswoman Betty McCollum is a member of the House Appropriations Committee and serves as the Co-Chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus.