Politics & National Security

The Key Amendments to the Defense Appropriations Act

By Matt Danzer
Monday, June 23, 2014, 10:00 AM

Last week the House of Representatives passed its version of the Defense Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2015, H.R. 4870, with a series of amendments with major implications for national security policy. Here is a list of those amendments, brief summaries, and what happened to each one.

Curbing NSA Activities

Representatives Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Thomas Massie (R-KY) sponsored an amendment that prevents any US intelligence officials from using appropriated funds to conduct “backdoor searches,” or using an US person identifier to query foreign intelligence information collected under the Section 702 program.

Status: Passed, 293-123

In response to recent evidence that the intelligence community urged the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to develop weaker encryption standards, Representative Alan Grayson (D-FL) offered an amendment that prevents NIST from consulting with the Department of Defense and National Security Agency when developing standards and guidelines for information systems.

Status: Passed, voice vote

What to Do With Guantanamo

Members proposed a number of amendments wrestling with how to handle the future of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Representative Jackie Walorski (R-IN) offered an amendment prohibiting the use of funds to transfer or release detainees at Guantanamo Bay to Yemen.

Status: Passed, 238-179

As Steve noted last week, Representative Tom Cotton (R-AK) offered an amendment banning the use of funds to transfer or release Guantanamo detainees to any foreign country.

Status: Passed, 230-184

Representative Jim Moran (D-VA) put forth an amendment to allow the military to return 77 Guantanamo detainees cleared for release to their home countries and transfer those detainees not cleared for release to the United States for prosecution.

Status: Failed, 163-249

Representative Grayson offered another amendment that bans the use of funds to detain, without conviction, any person at Guantanamo for more than 15 years.

Status: Failed, voice vote

Arming the Syrian Rebels

Representatives John Conyers (D-MI) and Ted Yoho (R-FL) sponsored an amendment barring the use of funds to provide man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS) to the Syrian rebels.

Status: Passed, voice vote

Representative Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) brought an amendment banning the provision of weapons to any entity in Syria.

Status: Failed, 167-244

(Not Yet) The End of the AUMF

Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA), who voted against the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force back in September 2001, proposed an amendment preventing the use of funds pursuant to that AUMF after December 31, 2014, which is the current date for the end of combat operations in Afghanistan.

Status: Failed, 157-260

Keeping Drones Away From Local Law Enforcement

Representative Grayson also offered an amendment prohibiting the Department of Defense from making available to local enforcement certain military equipment, including drones, missiles, and armored vehicles.

Status: Failed, 62-355