Homeland Security

Fixing Congressional Jurisdiction over DHS

By Paul Rosenzweig
Monday, September 26, 2016, 4:32 PM

The oldest outstanding recommendation, unfulfilled since the 9/11 Commission report, is for Congress to fix its jurisdicitional morass and provide effective, unified oversight of the Department of Homeland Security. Groups ranging from the Aspen Institute, the Bipartisan Policy Council and Heritage have all advocated for the change. Yet today DHS still reports to more than 100 subcommittees of Congress and they are rebuffed every time they seek relief.

Congressman McCaul is to be commended for trying again. This time he is asking for only half a loaf—he's willing to leave immigration with the Judiciary committee and is asking only to unify some of the more obviously unfortunate splits. [FEMA, for example, is in the House Homeland Committee's jurisdiction to the extent it responds to terrorist incidents but in House T&I for natural disasters—this despite the fact that the entire reason for giving FEMA to DHS was that disaster response is unitary.]

All three former DHS Secretaries have, again, called for reform. This will be resolved by the Rules Committee and Speaker Ryan before the next Congress convenes. Perhaps the 7th time will be the charm. Here is their letter: