Home Senate Intel Committee approves Intelligence Authorization Act for 2024
Politics, U.S. & World News

Senate Intel Committee approves Intelligence Authorization Act for 2024

us china
(© dsom – stock.adobe.com)

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence passed the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2025 (IAA) last week by a unanimous 17 to 0 vote.

The bill authorizes funding, provides legal authorities and enhances congressional oversight for the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC).

“The Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2025 reflects the Senate Intelligence Committee’s bipartisan commitment to ensuring America’s intelligence agencies have the authorities and resources they need to protect against rapidly evolving conflicts and threats,” Committee Chairman Mark R. Warner of Virginia said. “This year’s bill enhances the IC’s ability to identify and counter emerging technological threats posed by adversarial nations, including foreign adversaries’ efforts to use and dominate areas like artificial intelligence, biotechnologies, and next-generation energy. The IAA also designates foreign ransomware organizations as hostile cyber actors and ensures the IC has the tools it needs to counter economic coercion and illicit technology transfer, in particular by the People’s Republic of China. It also reforms the nation’s security classification system, strengthens the security of our election systems, and furthers the Committee’s efforts to ensure the IC can attract and expeditiously on-board a talented, diverse, and trusted workforce to meet the emerging challenges we face.”

The IAA for Fiscal Year 2025 authorizes funding for the IC and ensures that it has the resources, personnel, and authorities it needs to protect our country and inform decision makers, while ensuring continued robust congressional oversight. The bill’s provisions focus on the following key areas:

  • Increases oversight of the national security threats posed by the People’s Republic of China (PRC), including its attempts to evade sanctions and regulations, military capabilities, and investments in, and attempts to dominate, the supply chains of artificial intelligence (AI), next-generation energy technologies, and biotechnology, among others.
  • Enhances the IC’s ability to identify and counter threats relating to biotechnologies, including by improving and modernizing the roles, missions, and objectives of the National Counterproliferation and Biosecurity Center and by directing the IC to identify PRC plans, intentions, and timelines relating to illicit uses of biotechnologies.
  • Enhances sanctions enforcement against terrorist and ransomware organizations and revokes foreign nationals’ visas if they endorse/espouse terrorist activity.
  • Enhances policies relating to AI, including by requiring the President to develop procedures to ensure that Federal agencies better engage the private security on AI system-related threats, as well as establishing an AI Security Center within the National Security Agency to advance AI security research.
  • Enhances the IC’s ability to procure, transition, and incorporate emerging technologies, including by creating a fund for acquiring and transitioning such technologies.
  • Increases the IC’s focus on the growing threats to the United States by ISIS and affiliated terrorist organizations.
  • Promotes reform of the nation’s security classification system, by requiring the President to designate an Executive Agent for Classification and Declassification, improving the system for the classification and declassification of information, and requiring each Federal agency with access to classified information to establish an insider threat program to protect against unauthorized disclosures.
  • Prohibits entry into the Department of Energy National Laboratories by foreign nationals from adversary countries who pose counterintelligence risks.
  • Builds upon the Committee’s efforts relating to energy security by requiring a strategy to improve information sharing between the IC and the private sector regarding foreign adversary-based threats to U.S. critical minerals and other energy-related projects abroad.
  • Requires the IC to conduct an assessment of the likely course of Russia’s brutal war in Ukraine, and the effects of Western support to Ukraine.
  • Requires the IC to conduct an assessment of the Israel-Hamas war.
  • Improves oversight related to the Western Hemisphere, specifically when it comes to national security implications of visa-free travel by certain foreign nationals.
  • Enhances insight into the Venezuela Maduro regime’s relationship with state sponsors of terrorism and foreign terrorist organizations.
  • Requires the IC to establish an IC-wide policy authorizing a program for contractor-based sensitive compartmented information facilities, to improve public-private cooperation on technology innovation.
  • Requires a Government Accountability Office (GAO) review of the All-Domain Anomaly Resolution Office regarding unidentified anomalous phenomena reporting and Federal agency coordination.
  • Reforms management of controlled access programs to improve Congressional oversight.
  • Enhances election security by requiring that voting systems undergo penetration testing for certification processes.
  • Maintains strong congressional oversight of and enhances protections for IC whistleblowers.
  • Ensures continued support to the victims of anomalous health incidents (AHIs or “Havana Syndrome”) by improving funding flexibility for payments to qualified victims.
  • Safeguards important voluntary investments in watermarking and content authenticity by generative AI firms by establishing penalties for services that deliberately facilitate removal of those voluntary protections.

“Our Intelligence Authorization Act represents significant improvements to our national security tools, legal authorities, Intelligence Community workforce, and ensures resources are focused on the most pressing threats, specifically from China, Russia, Iran, and their partners, including Cuba, Venezuela, and North Korea, as well as terrorist organizations,” Committee Vice Chairman Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said. “Importantly, this bill takes unprecedented steps to address counterintelligence risks to our National Laboratories by prohibiting visitors from foreign adversary nations thereby protecting America’s research and competitive advantage. I look forward to moving our bipartisan legislation to the full Senate and final enactment.”

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.