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Inside Politics

Deal reached on intelligence bill

Bush says legislation important to nation's security


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Rep. Duncan Hunter agreed to the bill after changes were made to protect the chain of command.
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Agreement means intelligence community to undergo shakeup.

Sen. Bill Frist predicts intelligence overhaul will pass.

President Bush pressures Congress to approve an intelligence overhaul.

Democratic Rep. Bob Menendez urges Bush to use his clout.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Congressional negotiators have reached agreement on a bill to overhaul U.S. intelligence agencies, resolving an impasse over the control of data from spy satellites, the chairmen of the House and Senate armed services committees announced Monday.

Republican House Armed Services Chairman Duncan Hunter had held up the deal because he said he believed troops in the field would be endangered.

A House Democratic source gave CNN a copy of the draft that Hunter agreed on. The source indicated the language was intentionally ambiguous and made no mention of such specifics as satellites or troops.

The compromise measure adds language requiring the national intelligence director to "respect and not abrogate" the authority of Cabinet secretaries.

The House is expected to vote on the bill Tuesday and the Senate should follow with a vote on Wednesday.

In a joint statement, Sen. John Warner, R-Virginia, and Hunter, R-California, said the deal was reached after weekend talks among congressional leaders and Vice President Dick Cheney.

"We have come to an agreement on changed bill language that we believe protects with necessary clarity the time-tested chain-of-command," the committee chiefs' statement said.

"Pending a review of the rest of the legislation, we are prepared to support the bill as amended by this new language."

Republican Congressman James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin had pushed for immigration provisions to be included, but Republicans and Democrats think they can deal with his concerns in a separate vote in the next session.

Sensenbrenner said he could not support the compromise bill, but said he would press his concerns when Congress reconvenes in January.

"The time to address these issues is now, not next month, not next year," he said in a written statement. "Hollow promises of future consideration are just that -- hollow promises."

The legislation is meant to follow recommendations of the bipartisan commission that investigated the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

In comments to reporters Monday morning, President Bush again pushed for passage.

"I certainly hope the bill gets to my desk soon," he said. "I believe we have addressed the concerns of by far the majority of members of both the House and the Senate."

A GOP leadership aide said negotiations Monday afternoon involved Hunter; Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Michigan, the House Intelligence Committee chairman; Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, the lead Senate negotiator on the bill; and Cheney.

The sentiments of families of the 9/11 victims are mixed. Outside the White House, some relatives were holding a vigil, demanding Congress pass the bill. Other families said they believe that the legislation is flawed and oppose its passage.

The bill had enough votes to pass before the Thanksgiving break, but House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Illinois, would not let it go to the floor without the support of a majority of Republicans.

CNN's Ed Henry and Ted Barrett contributed to this report.


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