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House homeland security committee leaders again call for consolidation

Reps. King (R-NY), Thompson (D-MS)

The leaders of the House Homeland Security Committee sent a bi-partisan plea to the leader of the House on Jan. 24 calling for consolidated jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security.

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King (R-NY) and ranking member Bennie Thompson (D-MS) called on Speaker of the House John Boehner to consolidate jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security in Congress. 

King and Thompson cited President Obama’s lamentations the week of Jan. 16 that congressional oversight of DHS was inefficient -- with the department answering to more than 100 committees and subcommittees.  “Consolidation of homeland security jurisdiction was a key recommendation from the 9/11 Commission and has yet to be addressed,” they said.

They said DHS’ oversight should be similar to the Department of Defense with a principle point of oversight and review. They said even though the Homeland Security Committee’s members had amassed a wealth of specific knowledge on a variety of security issues, the ability for the committee to leverage that expertise is hamstrung by jurisdictional issues. They added that consolidation under the House committee would not only improve DHS operations, but would cut costs.

The committee has long sought to clarify jurisdictions and DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and long list of other officials have backed the effort. The 9/11 Commission, in a report card on the department last summer, said consolidating DHS oversight was one of the nine of its recommendations that remains unfulfilled.