Senate Armed Services Committee Violates Senate Rules to Preserve Secrecy
The Senate Armed Services Committee was so desperate to mark-up the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in secret they may have violated Senate Rules to do so. According to Roll-Call:
Before the May 21 markup began, CQ Roll Call discovered the doors to the committee room on the second floor of the Russell Senate Office Building were locked as staffers and senators entered the room through a side office. Inside, all individuals who entered the room were checked for clearance before the vote to close the markup occurred.
Despite the fact that the vote took place behind closed doors, committee chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., insisted that it was a public vote because the Armed Services Committee publishes the roll call once the markup concludes. Levin’s press secretary Tara Andringa said it would not be practical to open the room to the public for the vote because the Capitol Police must conduct a security sweep of the room before classified information can be discussed, a process that she says can take several hours.
“Once the room is swept, only those with the appropriate security clearance can be in the room,” Andringa said. “To address the Senate rule, the committee releases the result of the vote on whether to close the session.”
But according to the Standing Rules of the Senate, a motion for a committee to go into closed session must be “followed immediately by a record vote in open session.”
Here is a breakdown of the Senate Armed Services Committee’s vote on marking up the NDAA in secret:
Senators who voted in favor of marking up the NDAA in secret: Graham, McCain, Blunt Levin, Reed, Nelson, Udall, Hagan, Manchin, Donnelly, Hirono, Kaine, King, Inhofe, McCain, Sessions, Chambliss, Wicker, and Fischer.
Senators who opposed holding the NDAA mark-up in secret: Vitter, Lee, Cruz, McCaskill, Shaheen, Gillibrand, Blumenthal, and Ayotte.