Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Homeland Security Reorganization

I have been wondering why there has been so much inaction on the part of the House Homeland Security Committee; no hearings have been held since Congress convened last month. Last Thursda, an article on provided part of the answer, there was a major shuffle of the Democratic membership of the committee. Changing Membership According to the article seven (of eighteen) of last session’s members were removed from the committee and replaced with eight new Democrats. The extra seat (actually one of two extra seats, the other remains empty) for the Democrats reflects their gains in the last election. All of the out-going committee members were re-elected and remain in the Congress. Changes in committee membership are not that unusual. Large changes like these frequently occur at the start of a new session. Some of the changes are due to members requesting committee assignments that are more important to their district. Others may reflect increasing status in another committee that will require more of their time. And, of course, some may reflect demotions directed by the Speaker for a variety of potential political shortcomings. Reorganization According to Friday’s Congressional Record, the House Homeland Security Committee will be holding a re-organization meeting today. Such re-organization is to be expected at the start of any session. There will be a re-shuffling of the assignments to the various sub-committees. There has been no advance indication that there will be any changes in chairmanships. This meeting was not announced on the Committee web site. In fact, there have been no changes made to the web site since the session began. Even the Chairman’s Greeting page is still the same as it was for the last session; welcoming visitors to the 110th Congress. I am more than mildly surprised because Chairman Thompson made very effective use of this web site during the last session. Hopefully, with this re-organization complete, we will see the Committee start to work on a variety of important issue. From the perspective of this blog, the most important issue will be the re-authorization of the CFATS program. No bill has been introduced yet. It will be interesting to see if Chairman Thompson re-submits the HR 5377 bill written last session, or starts over with a new bill.

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