It also would allow U.S. authorities to deport foreigners convicted of any felony or suspected of having links to terrorist groups to any country -- even somewhere that is not a person's home country or place of birth, contrary to current practice. The CIA already has such authority, under a secret presidential finding first signed by President Bill Clinton and expanded by Bush after Sept. 11, 2001. The CIA has taken an unknown number of suspected terrorists apprehended abroad to third countries for interrogation.
Also in the Judiciary Committee meeting, GOP members defeated other Democratic-sponsored attempts to strike provisions that would make it easier to deport or track terrorist suspects.
GOP leaders scrambled to appease disgruntled Republicans who said the chamber was moving too quickly -- and ignoring rank-and-file members -- in pushing the 335-page bill.
As several House committees addressed various portions of the bill, Republicans generally defeated Democratic efforts to sidetrack it. But in some cases, GOP members were the sharpest critics.
In the intelligence committee, three senior Republicans opened a daylong markup by attacking the bill. "It is a cobbled-together bill," said Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.). "It is a rush to judgment."
Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Calif.) said, "We're fools to rush forward and pass something that has been worked on for only so short a time." Rep. Jim Gibbons (R-Nev.) said, "This Congress appears to be rushing to implement reform on an election-year timetable."
With House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) taking the unusual step of temporarily filling a committee vacancy for the day, members soothed tempers, in part by accepting a handful of amendments. One, offered by Gibbons and backed by the panel's Democrats, would authorize a newly appointed national intelligence director to shift unlimited amounts of money from one purpose to another within agencies under the director's purview.
Hours later, Gibbons voted to send the amended bill to the House floor. Cunningham did, too, saying he had learned that the House Appropriations Committee was content with the bill's spending provisions. Most Democrats also endorsed the bill. Only two members of the intelligence committee -- LaHood and Rep. Rush D. Holt (D-N.J.) -- voted against the measure.