Dems block passage of intelligence bill

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WASHINGTON (AP) — House Democrats on Monday blocked passage of a non-controversial intelligence policy bill, saying that Republicans were rushing to pass it without extensive debate.

The vote was 241 to 163 against passing the intelligence authorization bill, which supports critical national security programs, including those addressing counterterrorism and cyberattacks.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California said she had no problem with the bill itself, but rather the expedited procedure for approving it. In a letter Pelosi wrote: "This is unacceptable when critical intelligence decisions are being made that impact America's national security and while the House and Senate intelligence committees are leading investigations into Russia's continued efforts to undermine our democracy."

House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland said Monday that amid the Russia investigations, it was critical that Congress provide the intelligence agencies with the best possible tools and clear direction. The intelligence bill is an opportunity to allow lawmakers suggest ways to improve the bill, he said.

In order to pass, it would have had to get two-thirds of the members present and voting.

It is unclear when the House will take up the bill again.

Republicans accused Democrats of playing politics with U.S. national security.

House Speaker Paul Ryan's office said in a statement that blocking passage was a "reckless attempt to score political points by tacking on unrelated partisan amendments."

"You'll hear Democrats argue that this is about holding Russia accountable. In fact, this legislation includes several provisions regarding Russian cyber threats and interference in the 2016 election," the statement said.

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