Democrats on Thursday are hoping the House accepts an amendment that would require the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to report to Congress on the consequences of a military attack against Iran.
House Judiciary Committee ranking member John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) and two other Democrats won the right to have their language considered as an amendment to the 2013 intelligence authorization bill, H.R. 5743. Under their amendment, the DNI would have 60 days after passage to send a report to the congressional intelligence committees that includes an "assessment of the consequences of a military strike against Iran."
Democrats in particular have grown more concerned about what they see as a risk that the United States will soon be at war with Iran. In recent weeks, Congress has taken several steps that worry these members.
For example, both the House and Senate have approved Iran sanctions legislation — the Senate bill, S. 2101, says the United States will pursue all options to keep nuclear weapons out of Iran.
Earlier this month, the House approved a resolution saying a nuclear-capable Iran is unacceptable. Also, the National Defense Authorization Act for 2013 includes language that would require the movement of military assets into the Middle East to counter Tehran, and says the United States will take "all necessary measures, including military action if required," to keep nuclear weapons out of Iran.
On Wednesday, the House Rules Committee decided against making another Iran-related amendment in order. This one, from Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), would have required a report on the nuclear activities of Iran, including whether it is trying to build a nuclear weapon.Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) said this language is moving the country closer to war. "We're getting ready for war against Iran," he said.
The unclassified text of the Intelligence Authorization Act makes no mention of Iran, although most of the bill is classified, making it hard to determine what steps it might authorize as it relates to intelligence gathering against Iran.
Aside from the Conyers amendment, eight others will be considered today before the bill is passed — these deal with information sharing with Canada and Mexico, improving security clearances for subcontractors and ensuring the rights of racial and ethnic minorities within the intelligence agencies.
More broadly, the bill would authorize U.S. intelligence activities for the next fiscal year, as well as the Department of Defense's new Clandestine Service, which is meant to gather intelligence beyond the countries in which U.S. forces are already engaged.