Congress has oversight over arms shipments. Obama rolled it back recently. Congress is fighting to get it back.
As ProPublica reported this fall, the Obama administration is rolling back limits on some U.S. arms exports. Experts are concerned that the changes could result in military parts flowing more freely to the world’s conflict zones, and that arms sanctions against Iran and other countries will be harder to enforce.
Now, some in Congress are seeking to add back some oversight mechanisms lost in the overhaul – over opposition from the administration.
As part of the administration’s larger changes to what many view as an antiquated arms export system, thousands of military items have moved out from under the State Department’s long-standing oversight to the looser controls of the Commerce Department.
Commerce Department officials have said that, as a matter of policy, they will continue human rights vetting of recipient countries and reporting big sales to Congress, things the State Department was legally required to do.
A bill introduced in the House Foreign Affairs Committee last month would add back those and other legal requirements for many military items moving to Commerce control.
The bill is intended to “preserve Congressional oversight of arms transfers as the administration implements its Export Control Reform Initiative,” said Daniel Harsha, a spokesman for the committee.
While administration officials declined to comment on the pending legislation, they have quietly resisted it.....