By Pam Benson
The Obama administration is opposed to Congress adding more money to the intelligence budget and is asking for the funding to be reconsidered in the final budget.
In a statement released Wednesday, the White House said it had serious concerns about some of the funding contained in a classified part of the House Intelligence Authorization bill that exceeds the administration's request.
"The administration objects to unrequested authorizations for some classified programs that were reduced in the president's budget because they are lower in priority and would support deficit reduction efforts," the statement said.
Intelligence committee member Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California, said the funding levels are "for the most part consistent with the president's" but acknowledged there are differences in some programs involving "technical and tactical intelligence efforts." He would not elaborate further because the programs and spending amounts are classified.
A congressional intelligence committee staffer who was not authorized to speak on the record said that "as a percentage, the change represents a very modest increase over the president's request."
In February, the Director of National Intelligence announced the administration was seeking $52.6 billion to fund the national intelligence program for fiscal year 2013, more than a 4% decrease in funding from the current year. The money supports the operations of the 16 agencies and departments that make up the intelligence community. The request does not include money for military intelligence, which is funded separately.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said last year that spending levels for the intelligence community will be double-digit billions over the next 10 years. He said the community had figured out ways to make cuts, pointing to substantial savings in integrating information technology. But he warned there will be some risk. "We will not have quite the capability that we have today, which is very substantial," Clapper said.
The statement from the Office of Management and Budget noted that despite the objections no veto was being recommended of the intelligence authorization bill and said the administration "looks forward to working with the Congress to address its concerns," when the money is actually allocated to the intelligence programs.
Schiff said he expects that in negotiations with the House, Senate and the administration, "We will work out a compromise that all will embrace."