January 6, 2005

House creates Homeland Security Committee

The House of Representatives has approved the creation of a permanent standing Committee on Homeland Security.

The move follows the 9/11 Commission's recommendation that both the House and the Senate should create "a single, principal point of oversight and review for homeland security" across the federal government.

While falling short of that sweeping recommendation—-which would include all aspects of immigration, Coast Guard, FBI, and intelligence—-the change to the House Rules established a committee with primary jurisdiction over government-wide counterterrorism policy, and primary jurisdiction over the counterterrorism mission of the Department of Homeland Security.

The new committee will have by far the most significant responsibility for homeland security policy of any committee in the House or Senate.

House rules ceding primary jurisdiction over homeland security to the new Homeland Security Committee were adopted by the House of Representatives on Tuesday afternoon.

Rep. Christopher Cox (R-CA), who served as Chairman of the Select Committee on Homeland Security for the past two years, and as a member of the House Leadership for the past decade, is expected to chair the new committee. He endorsed its legislative charter after extensive consultations with House Speaker Dennis Hastert and with the chairmen of other committees.

"The Speaker has shown decisive leadership in completing the most significant reorganization of national security jurisdiction in the Congress in 58 years, since the creation of the Committee on Armed Services on January 2, 1947," Rep. Cox said. "The new committee will permit the House to give the Department of Homeland Security the same legislative support and dedicated oversight that the Committee on Armed Services provides to the Department of Defense."

"The priority placed by the Speaker on homeland security enjoys powerful bipartisan support," Rep. Cox added. "The House is now prepared to give the Department of Homeland Security every tool necessary to stop terrorists before they kill more Americans."

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