Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

November 10, 2006

A House reorg on homeland security?

Filed under: Congress and HLS — by Christian Beckner on November 10, 2006

Is speaker-elect Pelosi contemplating a more comprehensive reorganization of homeland security authority in the House? A story in Saturday’s Washington Post suggests as much:

A Democratic leadership source, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the plans are not final, said Pelosi is likely to reorganize House committees to streamline jurisdiction over security matters.

I’ve indicated before that I think that the structure in the House for homeland security oversight, is relatively solid, especially in comparison with the Senate. There were a few jurisdictional fights in the House on homeland security issues in the 109th Congress, most notably the bout involving the Homeland Security Committee vs. Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) and Government Reform committeees on FEMA reform legislation, but this was minor in comparison with the many disputes in the Senate.

So what might Pelosi do to extend or modify the scope of the current arrangement? She could take away the remaining homeland security-related authority from T&I, Judiciary, and Government Reform, all of whom have been relatively active on homeland security issues in the 109th Congress, and shift it to the HSC. She could be contemplating a restructuring of the subcommittees on the HSC. Or perhaps this statement refers primarily to intelligence-related jurisdictional issues, such as the long-discussed proposal to create a new appropriations subcommittee for intelligence.

It will be interesting to watch these changes unfold. Given my longstanding interest in these issues, I’ll be following this closely.

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Comment by Mike Adams

November 11, 2006 @ 12:34 pm

I see what we have here is more wing-nut welfare. The value of this sight, save maintenance propaganda for the security bed-wetter generation, is akin to teats on a boar hog. Anyone who actually believes there is solid Homeland Security oversight anywhere would seem to be thinking with the brains of the same Hermaphroditic pig. More likely they are deluded or lying for personal or political gain.
Ever So Sincerely,
Michael D. Adams

Comment by William R. Cumming

November 11, 2006 @ 8:48 pm

It is clear that the culture of the Committees in both House and Senate affect their views on oversight. Sometimes it is more than oversight that is impacted. A “public works” sensibility has long pervaded the oversight committees for the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act and its predecessors. President Clinton used disaster relief when other forms of economic stimulus were rejected. Both 100% federal funding of disasters (which destroys mitigation efforts) and its indemnification of negligent behavior by State and local governments should be stopped. Also, the anti-preparedness culture of the “public works” committees and their staff means that essential and necessary assistance won’t be there when really needed. At least 50 Katrina’s (really a failure of man’s structural efforts not nature) are waiting to happen. Also, the NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program -42 U.S.C. 4001 et seq) should be removed from the Banking committees and transferred to the appropriate Environmental regulation committees. It is not an insurance program but a land use program designed to compensate for negligent development being authorized by State and local governments. Disaster relief has become the reverse of the Barbary Pirate euphemis of “Millions for defense but not one cent for tribute.” Instead it is millions for recovery and not one cent for prevention. The NFIP should be moved out of DHS by statute and sent to the Department of Commerce and made part of NOAA. Flood maps should reflect meterology not just hydrology. The insurance mechanism should be made a reinsurance program and administered by the Treasury Department. TSA should be moved back to DOT and DEA should be moved from DOJ to DHS along with the remnants of AT&F now housed in DOJ. Heavy oversight on plan “Distant Shore” should be immediate in light of potential for mass immigration emergencies. SEE OAXACA (sic) developments in Mexico. Oversight of the National Guard in their STATE role should be moved to DHS from DOD. Northern Command should be made a statutory NG slot and the NG made part of the Joint Chiefs. These steps on the minimum necessary to upgrade Homeland Defense and Homeland Security. Also the VICE PRESIDENT should be put in charge of all Domestic crisis response with an appropriate support staff. Perhaps this real job will keep him/her busy and more likely to be accountable and prepared should a replacement be needed for an injured or incapacitated or dead President. The Veterans Affairs and Military Construction annual legislation should be made part of the annual DOD appropriation. The Energy and Environmental Protection budget should be combined and EPA should be combined with HHS organizationally.
Much work needs to be done. CDC needs twice the budget and staff and so does the Coast Guard. FEMA needs to be out of the recovery business after 18 months or two years and operations transferred to other permanent programs. After all it must be prepared for the next big one.

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