All authority to use armed drones would be placed within the Department of Defense (DOD), under legislation introduced by Rep. Ted Yoho. The Florida Republican's bill is aimed at getting the CIA out of the drone business.
Yoho, a first-term lawmaker, says the move would lead to greater transparency in the budget and appropriations process, by moving away from the heavily secretive intelligence budget.
"The CIA's main mission is intelligence collection and analysis," Yoho said in a statement. "It should not be in the business of military strikes. This legislation will bring our armed drone fleet under the jurisdiction of the DOD, where it should be. If our national security requires drone strikes abroad, then one agency should be held accountable to the American people."
"Even our top military officials have been pressing for permission to publicly defend U.S. drone strikes against criticism at home and abroad and against the spread of misinformation from terrorist groups," Yoho added. "This bill will allow our military personnel to testify before Congress and release details of all strikes. The DRA will make it clear that no other federal agency or department, or any personnel, shall have authority to operate or fire an armed drone except for DOD."
Civil Liberties Concerns
Yoho's proposal has support from lawmakers at the further reaches of both ends of the political spectrum. On the right, that includes libertarian/conservative Republican Reps. Justin Amash of Michigan, Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Paul Broun of Georgia. But also far-left lawmakers like Democratic Reps. John Conyers and Barbara Lee.
Since Yoho's 2012 congressional bid, which resulted in his shocking primary win over a seemingly-entrenched GOP incumbent, he has expressed concern about government overreach in a variety of areas. The 2014 Almanac of American Politics writes that Yoho:
Promised that his 'moral compass' wouldn't let him be beholden to anyone. He opposed raising taxes but refused to sign lobbyist and conservative activist Grover Norquist's no-tax pledge on the grounds that a war or other events may leave few alternatives. Yoho used humor to court voters, including a campaign ad showing suited 'politicians' feeding from a pig trough and a video about an upcoming fundraiser with a President George W. Bush impersonator.
Yoho, 59, a veterinarian , continued that approach one he was officially an elected official. "On his first day in office in January 2013," the Almanac notes, "Yoho joined a protest by a small group of conservatives who refused to back John Boehner of Ohio for House speaker; Yoho cast his vote instead for Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va."