Thursday, February 12, 2009

HS Committee Reorganization Explained

There is an interesting article over on that takes a pretty in-depth look at the political reasons for the re-organization of the House Homeland Security Committee that I reported on last week. According to the authors, Fowler and Margetta (both CQ staff writers) it looks like the large influx (six of eight new Democrats) of freshmen congressmen (four men and two women) reflects a decline in the power and influence of the Committee. The authors paint a complex picture of committee decline. They note that homeland security is becoming less important in the current political climate. There is more attention being paid to the economy and finance. The power of the Committee has been fairly diluted because they do not exclusive power over the Homeland Security Department; they share it with 84 other committees and subcommittees in the House and Senate. That means that a member can serve on another influential committee and still have impact at the Department. It will be interesting to see how this decline in power affects a wide variety of homeland security legislation. For readers of this blog that will include the reauthorization of CFATS. It would not be prudent to count too much on the decline in the power of Chairman Thompson. He did get HR 553 (Reducing Over-Classification Act) to the House floor and approved there less than a month into the session.

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