This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) that would eliminate the National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC), which provides information to law enforcement relating to drug consumption, production, and trafficking. This amendment was offered to legislation providing annual funding for Defense Department programs.
Flake urged support for his amendment: “…We have to get serious about this fiscal situation we are in. If we can't get serious about a program like this that's been called duplicative and wasteful, and two successive administrations, one Republican, one Democratic, have urged to either eliminate or severely reduce funding for, and yet Congress keeps coming back and providing far more money than the administration even wants for this because they know there are other programs, other agencies, other institutions that are doing this same work, if we can't save money here, I don't know where we're going to save it…Let's do something here for the taxpayer and something for our defense and intelligence and our antidrug efforts by making sure that programs that are not effective end and that funding be placed elsewhere.”
Rep. Mark Critz (D-PA) opposed the amendment: “…As we discuss the NDIC…I am concerned for the folks who are working at the NDIC, doing the great work, and am worried about them as their work and their jobs are, again, turned into a political football….The NDIC is the only strategic drug intelligence center in the country. They offer strategic drug threat assessments, money laundering reporting, issue-based intelligence reports, support to the intelligence community and senior policymakers….The Arizona Attorney General's Office recently sent a letter to NDIC, stating, `I wish to take this opportunity to express the appreciation of this office for all of the work NDIC has done in connection with the investigation of money laundering.' Now, when talking about money laundering and the work the NDIC is doing, the money that is made illicitly through drugs also finds its way into illicit activity and terrorism as well, so the NDIC serves as the center where all the information comes in. They produce the reports and then ship them out to all the agencies. They eliminate redundancy. That's their whole mission….The NDIC is not duplicative. They've proven it time and time again.”
The House agreed to this amendment by a vote of 246-172. Voting “yea” were 215 Republicans and 31 Democrats. 153 Democrats—including a majority of progressives—and 19 Republicans voted “nay.” As a result, the House agreed to an amendment that would eliminate the National Drug Intelligence Center. This amendment, however, could only become law if it passed both houses of Congress. Since the Senate had not yet passed its annual Defense authorization bill, it was unclear whether it would include the language contained in Flake’s amendment. Thus, the NDIC continued to operate.