[Congressional Record: June 19, 2002 (House)]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
ESTABLISHING THE SELECT COMMITTEE ON HOMELAND SECURITY
Mr. DREIER. Mr. Speaker, by direction of the Committee on Rules, I
call up House Resolution 449 and ask for its immediate consideration.
The Clerk read the resolution, as follows:
H. Res. 449
Resolved, That there is hereby established a Select
Committee on Homeland Security.
Sec. 2. Composition.--The select committee shall be
composed of nine Members appointed by the Speaker, of whom
four shall be appointed on the recommendation of the Minority
Leader. The Speaker shall designate one member as chairman.
Sec. 3. Jurisdiction.--The select committee may develop
recommendations and report to the House on such matters that
relate to the establishment of a department of homeland
security as may be referred to it by the Speaker and on
recommendations submitted to it under section 6.
Sec. 4. Procedure.--(a) Except as provided in paragraphs
(1) and (2), rule XI shall apply to the select committee to
the extent not inconsistent with this resolution.
(1) Clause 1(b) and clause 2(m)(1)(B) of rule XI shall not
apply to the select committee.
(2) The select committee is not required to adopt written
rules to implement the provisions of clause 4 of rule XI.
(b) Clause 10(b) of rule X shall not apply to the select
Sec. 5. Funding.--To enable the select committee to carry
out the purposes of this resolution, the select committee may
utilize the services of staff of the House.
Sec. 6. Reporting.--(a) Each standing or permanent select
committee to which the Speaker refers to a bill introduced by
the Majority Leader or his designee (by request) that
proposes to establish a department of homeland security may
submit its recommendations on the bill only to the select
committee. Such recommendations may be submitted not later
than a time designated by the Speaker.
(b) The select committee shall consider the recommendations
submitted to it on a bill described in subsection (a) and
shall report to the House its recommendations on such bill.
Sec. 7. Dissolution.--(a) The select committee shall cease
to exist after final disposition of a bill described in
section 6(a), including final disposition of any veto message
on such bill.
(b) Upon the dissolution of the select committee, this
resolution shall not be construed to alter the jurisdiction
of any standing committee.
Sec. 8. Disposition of Records.--Upon dissolution of the
select committee, the records of the select committee shall
become the records of any committee designated by the
The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Sununu). The gentleman from California
(Mr. Dreier) is recognized for 1 hour.
Mr. DREIER. Mr. Speaker, for the purpose of debate only, I yield the
customary 30 minutes to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Frost), pending
which I yield myself such time as I may consume. During consideration
of this resolution, all time yielded is for purposes of debate only.
(Mr. DREIER asked and was given permission to revise and extend his
Mr. DREIER. Mr. Speaker, the resolution allows us to move decisively
in a bipartisan manner to establish an empowered Department of Homeland
Security. I want to express my appreciation to the gentleman from Texas
(Mr. Frost) and my colleagues on the Committee on Rules for helping us
proceed in a bipartisan manner in dealing with this issue.
Mr. Speaker, the President's proposed legislation to create this new
Cabinet-level agency represents a call to arms for each of us. It is
the battle cry of a Nation determined to preserve its hard-won and
fundamental belief that its people have an inherent right to freedom.
Today, we take the first important step in answering that call by
readying our government to confront a faceless enemy, an enemy
attempting to penetrate our borders, threaten our towns and cities and,
overall, to rob families and communities of the sense of security that
they enjoyed before the attacks of September 11. This is an
unprecedented category of war on the home front, and it requires a new
approach to securing our Nation.
Mr. Speaker, this resolution is about protecting American lives, not
protecting the turf of those here in the Congress. I take very
seriously our institutional responsibility to protect the integrity of
the congressional oversight process and the ability of committees to
exercise their will on matters within their jurisdiction. This
resolution facilitates our ability to fulfill those responsibilities
without compromising our ultimate and most critical objective of
keeping Americans safe from terrorism. Mr. Speaker, as we know,
terrorism is an ever-present enemy.
This resolution ensures that we are moving forward with a sense of
deliberative urgency, permitting the House to condense the legislative
process in a way that will foster a thoughtful and carefully crafted
legislative product. In so doing, it establishes a process for
considering the President's initiative similar to one that was used a
quarter of a century ago by Speaker Tom O'Neill in addressing the
The resolution provides a clearinghouse for ideas, an ad hoc body
with the expertise to resolve jurisdictional disputes, and the
authority to compile a final package. Instead of potentially lengthy
struggles on overlapping jurisdictional issues, the select committee
will operate as a type of conference committee for all relevant
committees of jurisdiction. Every committee is ensured to have a voice
in the process.
Mr. Speaker, with very few exceptions, regular order will be applied
to the select committee, meaning it will have to comply with all rules
of the House. The select committee is limited in its scope, authorized
only to consider legislation creating a Homeland Security Department,
and will dissolve once that duty has been completed. The membership
will be a small group comprised of elected leaders from both sides of
In the President's transmittal message to Congress accompanying the
homeland security initiative, he referenced President Truman's previous
reorganization of our military forces under the new Department of
Defense as an analogy to today's homeland security initiative.
What is also somewhat similar is the philosophy laid out earlier by
the first Hoover Commission established in 1947 to study the
organization of the executive branch and to come up with
recommendations for its reorganization. The commission noted in its
report on the general management of the executive branch that ``we must
reorganize the executive branch to give simplicity and structure, the
unity of purpose, and the clear line of executive authority originally
Mr. Speaker, one of the commission's underlying principles was that
policy-making and standards-setting should be centralized by the
President, central management agencies and department Secretaries,
rather than controlled at the individual agency level where bureau and
subdivision fiefdoms had evolved to create a mass of policy and
While there was no direct or pending security threat at the time, it
is appropriate to compare the philosophy of the Hoover Commission to
the motivations of the homeland security initiative. The President
notes a number of similar themes in his message: ``Our Nation needs a
unified homeland security structure;'' ``transforming the current
confusing patchwork of government activities into a single department
whose primary mission is to secure our homeland;'' the Department
``would have a clear and efficient organizational structure . . .'' And
finally, ``history also teaches us that critical security challenges
require clear lines of responsibility and the unified effort of the
Mr. Speaker, it demonstrates that America is the great Nation that it
is because we have been able to look inward at the appropriate times
and unify to transform to and adapt our government to changed
We have an opportunity to implement a framework that will produce
effective and functional changes to the organization of our Federal
Government's national security infrastructure. That is why it is
absolutely essential that we work together, both here in the House and
with the other body, to proceed as expeditiously as possible.
Mr. Speaker, even more important, we must do it the right way, in
order to guarantee that our end product is the best solution for
addressing our Nation's security needs.
Right now, agencies charged with protecting our borders, enforcing
our laws and keeping Americans safe are grouped with those responsible
for overseeing the Nation's finances and maintaining the Federal
highway system. For instance, the Customs Service plays an important
role in protecting America's borders, in the air, on land and at sea,
and it has its own intelligence component. Yet, it is housed under the
Treasury Department where the primary mission is to manage the
government's money and promote stable economies both here and abroad.
Another well-known example is the overlapping roles of the
Immigration and Naturalization Service and the State Department when it
comes to regulating permanent and temporary immigration to the United
States. While the INS has overall responsibility for immigration
matters, the State Department is in charge of issuing visas to foreign
nationals coming to the United States. The homeland security initiative
moves both the INS and the State Department's control
over visa issuance to the new Secretary.
Mr. Speaker, the U.S. Coast Guard is the principal Federal law
enforcement agency with jurisdiction in both U.S. waters and on the
high seas. It is also prepared to function as a specialized service
within the U.S. Navy, and it has command responsibilities for the U.S.
maritime defense zones. Yet it reports to the Secretary of
Transportation, whose primary mission is to oversee the formulation of
national transportation policy.
Without a doubt, securing our homeland is going to require more than
the creation of a new agency. Yet there is no question that we must
establish an entity that is singly devoted to that purpose, with no
distractions and no conflicting objectives.
Rather than the multitude of agencies and bureaus that currently hold
homeland security authority, the President's plan charges one agency
with responsibility for securing our borders, accessing and analyzing
intelligence information, working with local and State governments to
manage Federal emergency response activities, and developing chemical,
biological and radiological and nuclear countermeasures.
Mr. Speaker, this presidential initiative represents bipartisanship
at its best. As we address the security needs of our homeland, passage
of this resolution is a bold and important step toward that end.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. FROST. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
(Mr. FROST asked and was given permission to revise and extend his
Mr. FROST. Mr. Speaker, in the aftermath of September 11, the people
of this Nation have pulled together to meet the first great challenge
of the 21st century.
Across the globe in Afghanistan, the men and women of the United
States Armed Forces prove their courage and skill on the battlefield
once again, and here in Washington, Democrats and Republicans put aside
partisanship to support the war on terrorism.
Still, Mr. Speaker, much remains to be done, especially in the area
of homeland security. For months, Democrats and a few Republicans have
argued that homeland security must become a Cabinet-level priority. I
myself am a cosponsor of a House bill to do just that. So there was
bipartisan support for the President's decision a few weeks ago to
reverse his prior opposition to a new Department of Homeland Security.
By itself, reorganizing the Federal Government will not ensure
Americans' safety, but it is an important first step, and the short 35-
page bill submitted by the administration yesterday provides a useful
starting point, even as it raises a lot of important questions.
How will it improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the
Government's intelligence operations? How will it change the
relationship between individual Americans and the Federal agencies,
FEMA and the Coast Guard, for instance, that now provide them with
Additionally, Mr. Speaker, we must work through important questions
about the nature of the agency itself. We must ensure that Americans'
fundamental values, rights and liberties are not sacrificed on the
altar of this new governmental structure. That includes the employment
rights of the public servants who will work in this department and
devote their lives to protecting their fellow citizens.
We must honestly address the question of how much it will cost
taxpayers to set up and operate this new Federal department. America's
national security is not cheap and neither is its homeland security.
Just yesterday, for instance, the Republican staff director of the
Senate Budget Committee pointed out that additional costs seem likely.
Mr. Speaker, the Congress must answer these and other questions to
ensure that creating a new Department of Homeland Security accomplishes
more than just moving Federal employees around Washington but actually
makes Americans safer in this new war against terrorism.
That is why it is so important that we follow regular order and draw
upon the tremendous experience and expertise in the standing committees
of jurisdiction. Many of our Members have literally decades of
experience with these matters. Simply put, they know what works and
what does not work in the real world.
Mr. Speaker, Democratic Leader Gephardt was right to set September 11
of this year as the deadline to create the new Department of Homeland
Security. That deadline is less than 3 months from today, but is a full
year from the infamous day when terrorists made clear America's new
homeland security needs.
Make no mistake, Mr. Speaker, we can meet that goal, but it will
require the type of bipartisanship we saw immediately after September
11. Fortunately, the Speaker seems to understand that, and so today the
House is taking an initial step down the long road toward the real and
substantive cooperation necessary to create an effective Department of
Of course, sticking to the path of bipartisanship will require
determination at all stages in the process, in the initial work of the
standing committees, as the select committee itself reconciles their
approaches, and as the Committee on Rules sends that product to the
Indeed, the end of the process will be as important as the beginning.
So I urge the Speaker to commit to bringing the final bill to the House
floor under an open rule. That way we can ensure that the will of the
entire House is reflected in what we pass.
Mr. Speaker, we all understand how absolutely critical it is that
partisan politics play no part in our deliberations. This is no time
for any political party's agenda. It is time to prove that we are
worthy of this monumental task to protect our Nation and its citizens,
and to reassure them that their government is part of the solution, not
part of the problem.
Democrats are eager to get to work reorganizing on this critical
task. So I urge the adoption of this resolution.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. DREIER. Mr. Speaker, I am happy to yield 1 minute to my friend,
the gentleman from Irving, Texas (Mr. Armey), the distinguished
majority leader, for the purpose of a colloquy.
Mr. ARMEY. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me this
time, and this resolution simply authorizes the Speaker to appoint a
Select Committee on Homeland Security consisting of five House
Republican Members and four House Democrat Members.
The purpose of the select committee, which will have hearing
authority and the same markup and reporting authority as standing
committees, is to review the various recommendations from the standing
committees of jurisdiction and report to the House one comprehensive
bill that will create the Department of Homeland Security.
This resolution carries an authorization for the select committee to
utilize the services and resources of the staff of the House of
Representatives and shall cease to exist after final disposition of the
bill, including final disposition of any veto message on such a bill.
The precedent for such a select committee is clear, and thanks to the
bipartisan support I have received from the gentleman from Missouri
(Mr. Gephardt), the Democrat minority leader, I am confident that we
can meet the President's deadline for enactment of this session.
With respect to timing, tomorrow I will introduce the bill sent up by
the President and that will be referred to the select committee.
Standing committees with a legitimate jurisdictional claim will receive
an additional referral, with the understanding that they will provide
recommendations to the select committee no later than July 12, 2002.
Finally, it is the Speaker's goal to schedule this legislation for
floor consideration in the House the week of July 21, 2001. At that
time, it is the Speaker's intention that he and the Democratic Leader
propose to the Committee on Rules a resolution governing the
consideration of the select committee's product and jointly
recommending that it be adopted.
Ms. PELOSI. Mr. Speaker, will the gentleman yield?
Mr. ARMEY. I yield to the gentlewoman from California.
Ms. PELOSI. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding. I would
like to join the majority leader in support of this effort. The fight
against terrorism is our most urgent national security priority, and
the creation of a Department of Homeland Security is a big step in the
war against terrorism. However, it will take a great deal of our effort
beyond just the formation of this department to protect our Nation.
Let me thank the gentleman and the Republican leadership for the
bipartisan manner in which this process has developed so far. We
believe that bipartisanship should continue throughout this process,
during the committee markups, within the select committee that we are
creating, and during the floor consideration of our final work product.
Many of our Members have developed proposals along these lines. It is
our intention to do everything we can to make this department an
effective tool in the war against terrorism. It is also imperative that
the 170,000 workers who will be affected by this transition continue to
receive all of the rights they now enjoy as employees of the Federal
Government. Agencies that do a highly-effective job for the American
people, such as the Coast Guard and FEMA, must be empowered so that
they can continue to do their crucial work and that work beyond
Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask a few clarifying questions of the
majority leader. First, the rule governing consideration of this
legislation will be jointly recommended by the Speaker and the
Democratic leader and then brought to the Committee on Rules. The rule
will preserve minority rights protected by the House and will be a fair
process; is this correct?
Mr. ARMEY. Reclaiming my time, Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman;
and let me say, yes, and I will restate that it is the Speaker's
intention that he and Democrat Leader Gephardt propose to the Committee
on Rules a resolution governing the consideration of the select
committee's product and jointly recommend that it be adopted.
Ms. PELOSI. I thank the majority leader, and if he will continue to
yield for a second question:
Nothing in this process will restrict the traditional rights of the
minority or the rights of the committee in being named as conferees for
the final product; is that correct?
Mr. ARMEY. Again reclaiming my time, I thank the gentlewoman for her
question, and I will advise the gentlewoman that under House rules the
Speaker will retain all of his prerogatives under this resolution with
respect to the naming of conferees.
Ms. PELOSI. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding and once
again express my appreciation for the bipartisan cooperation we have
had here today.
Mr. ARMEY. Mr. Speaker, I too would like to thank the gentlewoman for
the spirit of cooperation we have already enjoyed working together on
this very important matter before the American people, and I thank the
gentleman from California for yielding me this time.
Mr. FROST. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from
Maryland (Mr. Hoyer).
Mr. HOYER. Mr. Speaker, I thank the distinguished ranking member of
the Committee on Rules, the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Frost), for
yielding me this time.
Mr. Speaker, I may be in a small minority in this House, but I just
heard the majority leader say that this was to be done on the
recommendations of all the standing committees, with reference to this
consolidation, effective by July 12. We are going to adjourn next
Friday, presumably, on June 28. We are going to come back on July 9 or
10 from our July 4 break. As I compute it, therefore, that leaves about
9 legislative days to consider the consolidation of agencies which have
under their aegis almost $39 billion in expenses and have over 160,000
I have great reservations about what I perceive to be a rush to
judgment on this issue. Do I believe we need to organize well to
confront those who would undermine our country? I do. Do I believe that
reinventing and reassessing the operations of the government on a
periodic basis are necessary? I do. Do I believe, however, that in the
face of threats, that we ought to do something that we might not
otherwise have done? The answer to that is an emphatic no.
Now, I may well support this effort, but I think it is a serious
effort. The gentleman from Ohio (Mr. Portman) is seated here. He
participated in a major effort, not to redeploy one of our largest
departments, the Internal Revenue Service, but to reorganize it
internally and to make it run better. He and I had some disagreements
on that, but ultimately we all supported that effort and he did great
work. But he will tell my colleagues that that one department,
substantially less than 160,000 people, with no cross-jurisdictions
because it was one department, was a complicated effort that needed
time to effect.
I would hope that everybody in this body would take this
responsibility very seriously and give it the time necessary to effect
an end that in a year from now or 10 years from now we will be able to
look back on and say we did our work well, we did it thoughtfully, we
did it carefully, and we did it well.
Mr. Speaker, let me also observe that I have great concerns about the
general waiver that is accorded to the Secretary of the Department in
this legislation with reference to protections of Federal employees
incorporated in law, in other words, not rule or regulation, but passed
by this Congress, signed by a President of the United States, to ensure
that our Federal employees have the kinds of protections and benefits
that we believe were necessary not only to recruit and retain those
Federal employees but to treat them fairly within our system.
The legislation, as I understand it, that has been proposed by the
President gives to the Secretary the power to waive those. I do not
think that we ought to do that, and I hope that we do not do it. I will
be focused on that as we move along in consideration of this
Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for giving me this time to express
some caution as we approach this weighty and difficult task.
Mr. DREIER. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume to
just say very briefly, in response to the gentleman's statement, that I
believe in my opening statement I made it very clear that while we want
to do this in an expeditious manner, we want to make sure that it is
done right. We have certain constraints with which we have to deal if
we are going to successfully meet the September 11 goal that was first
set forth by the minority leader. And in light of that, the July 12
deadline, then our goal of trying to begin reconciling differences as
we head towards the August break are dates that have been put forth.
But I do believe that first and foremost, as I said, we must do this
correctly. So in that light, I do agree with my colleague.
Mr. HOYER. Mr. Speaker, will the gentleman yield?
Mr. DREIER. I yield to the gentleman from Maryland.
Mr. HOYER. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for his comments
because I think we agree on that issue. The important issue will be
that we do this right, and to that extent I agree with my friend.
Mr. DREIER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to my friend, the
gentleman from California (Mr. Rohrabacher), who has long been a hard
fighter on behalf of our homeland security and other national security
Mr. ROHRABACHER. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H. Res.
449. Yes, it will permit us to do the job right because we are
committed to doing this job well, but it will also permit us to set the
task of doing this job expeditiously, as the gentleman from California
(Mr. Dreier) noted.
Why should it be done expeditiously? Because we are at war. Let us
not forget what this is all about. Three thousand of our citizens were
slaughtered by a hostile foreign enemy. We are at war. Our military is
in action in Afghanistan, in the Philippines, and perhaps in the near
future in Iraq. Our intelligence agencies have been mobilized. That is
what one expects in war.
But as in past wars, especially in this new type of war, what the
defense of the homeland is about is about winning that war. It is part
of the strategy of victory. And to accomplish the security of our
homeland and the safety of
our people, we need a restructuring and we need to do it in an
expeditious fashion. That is what this effort is all about. But it is
more than just redrawing the lines on a flow chart. We must also have a
change in attitude, a new sense of vigilance that comes with the
creation of a new Department of Homeland Security.
I am personally pleased to see, for example, that the INS will
reorient their job toward protecting our borders and protecting the
security of the United States of America in dealing with the illegal
alien problem. Our homeland is in jeopardy, and a restructuring is
absolutely necessary; and we have begun today with this effort to
provide the restructuring that will be necessary to legal procedures.
George Bush is providing the aggressive leadership on the executive
end. We are providing this restructuring on the legislative side, and
we are working under the aggressive leadership of our President in this
wartime situation. And what is necessary for victory is a unity, not
just between the executive and legislative branch, but also between the
political parties; and that is what this effort is about today. It is a
bipartisan effort. It is a team effort. We are proposing a select
committee to expedite the creation of a Homeland Security Department.
So let the terrorists of the world know we will pursue them overseas
and we will protect our homeland and we will win this war against this
evil that threatens our people, our homeland, and the world.
Mr. FROST. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from New
Jersey (Mr. Menendez).
(Mr. MENENDEZ asked and was given permission to revise and extend his
Mr. MENENDEZ. Mr. Speaker, I thank the distinguished ranking member
on the Committee on Rules for yielding time.
Protecting the American people is our first obligation, and I know
that we as Democrats are committed to working with all of our
colleagues here in the House to protect our families, our cities, and
our way of life from the enemies of freedom. In this work, maybe the
most important work of our generation, there are no Democrats, no
Republicans, only patriots. Following September 11, I assumed the
chairmanship of the Democratic task force on homeland security, which
introduced two comprehensive bills that addressed the threat of
bioterrorism and future terrorist attacks on our Nation. We
successfully united the entire Democratic caucus behind our
legislation, and we are proud to see that major provisions of that
legislation has in essence been enacted into law. Now as we pursue the
select committee and its proposed work along with the committees of
jurisdiction, we Democrats have, I believe, certain principles that
will seek to guide us. We strongly embrace and support the reform and
reorganization of departments and agencies with responsibilities for
homeland defense, but we seek a continuing and thorough review of the
events and factors that led to the tragic and unfortunate deaths of
Such reform and reorganization, coupled with a comprehensive threat
assessment and strategy to address threats to the American homeland, is
the best way to improve the safety and security of the American people.
We are glad that the President has come to agree with Democrats that
the head of Federal homeland security efforts must have the requisite
statutory and budgetary authority to effectively and efficiently
protect America from terrorism.
But we also believe as we protect and defend our country, we must
protect and defend the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and our civil
liberties which collectively is the rock upon which we have built our
life as a society. We also believe when the hometown is secure, the
homeland is secure. So as we consolidate the Federal Government's
homeland security functions, we need to ensure that the hometown is
The democratic principles of getting more money out of Washington and
into our communities for police, fire, emergency management and public
health will be a guiding principle as we try to succeed in this
Finally, the select committee is a continuation of our efforts to
address the challenges ahead. Yes, we need to do it expeditiously on
behalf of the American people, but we need to do it well. 170,000
employees, $39 billion in the budget, these are very significant items,
which is why we seek to have the White House submit an amended
budgetary process in order to make sure that we do this in an open and
fiscally responsible manner.
Those are some of our challenges. They are legitimate public policy
issues. These are trying times; but as a united Congress, and with the
support of the American people, we can rise to that occasion, we can
make our homeland secure, and we can do it in a way in which the
American people will be proud.
Mr. DREIER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Ohio
Mr. PORTMAN. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of the resolution
before us today. I was delighted to hear the gentleman from New Jersey
(Mr. Menendez) talk about some of the principles that the gentleman
feels strongly about, that he identified as principles on his side of
the aisle. They are principles that I think both sides of the aisle
support: Focusing on first responders, focusing on the rights of
American citizens, focusing on doing this in an expedited manner, and
doing it right.
For me, this reminds me a lot of where we were right after September
11 when there was a certain urgency, and in the House and Senate we
came together across party lines and did the right thing for the
American people. I see that again with regard to this proposal to
create a new Department of Homeland Security, and I am very supportive
of the Speaker's resolution today to create a select committee that
helps us get to that process, chaired by the majority leader.
I believe the need for this department is very clear. There are over
100 government agencies now responsible for homeland security. In a
sense, everyone is in charge; so no one is in charge. One of our tasks
is to align authority with responsibility. By doing that, we can ensure
some accountability so that someone is in charge and someone is
accountable to ensure that we are doing all we can to protect the
It is a complicated and important task. I think again united in a
bipartisan way, there is no reason we cannot get it done. As I see the
reaction in the House and Senate, and yesterday when the President
brought his proposal forward and Tom Ridge presented it, I see that
kind of unified response that will help us get this done.
I am pleased the Speaker has set up a process that will allow all the
authorizing committees to have input into the process. After all, that
is where the expertise resides, and it will be those committees that
will provide that expertise and put together recommendations as to how
to reorganize these departments and agencies.
We need to be sure that the creation of the Department of Homeland
Security is not oversold. This will not make us immune from terrorism.
What it will do is it will maximize our ability to protect our
citizens. After all, that is the fundamental responsibility of the
Federal Government, to protect our country and citizens.
Congress is not generally known for getting things done quickly.
There is a joke that it takes us 30 days to make instant coffee around
here. But as we have demonstrated after the tragic events of September
11, when we work in a bipartisan fashion to get things done, we can. We
are called on today to do that again. This resolution will help us do
Mr. Speaker, let us roll up our sleeves and get to work to reorganize
the Federal Government to best protect our country and our citizens.
Mr. FROST. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from
Florida (Mr. Hastings), a member of the Committee on Rules.
Mr. HASTINGS of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for
yielding me this time.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H. Res. 449, a resolution
which calls for the establishment of a temporary Select Committee on
Homeland Security. The committee will review the recommendations of
standing House committees and create a comprehensive bill for House
The President's goal and the ranking member's goal, the minority
leader's goal is to sign this bill into law on September 11, 2002.
This is a goal, Mr. Speaker, that I believe is attainable, but
difficult to do. There are an estimated 33 subcommittees that can
legitimately claim jurisdiction over the President's proposal to
establish a Cabinet-level department. Under H. Res. 449, the select
committee wil be composed of only nine members. My concern is that a
nine-member select committee is too small to incorporate the expertise
that will be required to consolidate the recommendations of the
These nine members will be required to have expertise in areas as far
ranging and diverse as government reform, intelligence, transportation,
agriculture, and chemical and biological warfare, just to name a few.
This is an awesome task for nine mere mortals.
Mr. Speaker, I believe that the President's initiative to create a
new department which consolidates national security missions is long
overdue. The concept is not a new one. Actually a plethora of
legislation, including a proposal which I introduced, H.R. 3078, has
been brought forward. My bill would have established the National
Office for Combating Terrorism. It includes an initiative to develop
policies and goals for the prevention of and response to terrorism and
for the consolidation of local, State and Federal programs.
I am pleased to see that the administration is incorporating some of
our ideas into a comprehensive plan to streamline the workings of the
executive branch, and let us have on notice that it took the
administration quite some time to come to this view.
I share the concerns of the President and the rest of the Nation. We
need to consolidate our efforts to ensure that we are prepared for
terrorist threats or attacks. However, we must balance this priority
with caution and common sense. We must not lull our Nation into a false
sense of security by implying that we have fixed a problem that indeed
we have not.
The threat of another terrorist attack is foremost in our minds, and
in our rush to protect ourselves, the President has requested that we
complete this legislation as quickly as possible. Including weekends
and holidays, September 11, 2002, is 82 days away. Even if we remained
in session for our scheduled August recess, I believe that this time
frame is hard to achieve. It will take nine members more than a few
weeks to design a Department of Homeland Security capable of reducing
America's vulnerability to terrorism and preventing future attacks
against the United States.
Mr. Speaker, I have a word of caution for my esteemed colleagues: If
we do not take the time to do it right, we will have to make the time
to do it over.
Mr. DREIER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from
Georgia (Mr. Chambliss), a member of the Permanent Select Committee on
(Mr. CHAMBLISS asked and was given permission to revise and extend
Mr. CHAMBLISS. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me
this time, and I rise in support of this resolution today. I am one of
those who has resisted and been opposed to the legislation that has
been filed in this House to this point in time, attempting to create
and legislate the Office of Homeland Security. The reason I have
resisted is as a member of the intelligence community, and one who has
worked closely with Governor Ridge and his staff, I felt like the
Governor, who has done a superb job as the Director of Homeland
Security, needed to have the flexibility given to him by the executive
order coming out of the White House to walk through the minefields and
find out where the potholes are in homeland security. And once he has
done that, let us come back and craft legislation. As the gentleman
from Maryland (Mr. Hoyer) stated, we can then know we are doing it
Well, the time has now come to do that. I applaud our President for
making a bold decision to create a new Cabinet-level position and to
restructure government, to meet this long-term issue of homeland
security, and in order to ensure that we win this war on terrorism, it
is now necessary that this office be created.
This resolution is the first step towards doing it right. I applaud
the leadership for their bold initiative to structure this committee
the way it is. I think in order to get the job done, that is the way
the committee should be structured. Every committee is going to have
the ability to exercise their jurisdiction over their particular turf.
Again, that is the way it should be done to do it right. This is the
right way to do it. I support this legislation, and I urge its adoption
Mr. FROST. Mr. Speaker, I yield 4 minutes to the gentlewoman from
Texas (Ms. Jackson-Lee).
(Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas asked and was given permission to revise
and extend her remarks.)
Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from
Texas (Mr. Frost) particularly for the gentleman's wisdom in the
immediate hours after September 11, to help organize for the Democratic
caucus the Homeland Security Task Force. Many Members gathered within
24 hours outside of the Capitol to be able to discuss the immediacy of
responding to the crisis and the tragedy of September 11.
I would also like to add my appreciation for the gentleman from New
Jersey (Mr. Menendez) who served as the chair of that task force, as I
served as the vice chair on one of the law enforcement subcommittees.
This was an effort to recognize the importance of congressional
oversight and involvement in addressing these questions. So it is
without a doubt that I support the Department of Homeland Security that
has been offered by the President in his legislative initiative
presented to this Congress just yesterday.
As I begin to review it, I believe it is a very effective first look
at how that department will be created. But, Mr. Speaker, I am a
believer in the tenets of the Founding Fathers and the basis of the
People's House. The design of this House of Representatives is that to
be reflective of the people of the United States of America. They want
us to be responsible for the decisions made to govern this Nation. Our
Constitution clearly designates three branches of government:
Judiciary, executive and legislative.
I believe the House of Representatives has an imperative duty in
accordance with the words of Madison and the rest of our Founding
Fathers to do our job. That means that those who represent the people
of the United States should be engaged in the oversight and the design
of this department.
It is very clear that there are a number of committees who have
jurisdiction, and I would offer to say in light of the backdrop of the
tragedy, not one of us is claiming turf. There is no argument of turf.
There is a question of jurisdiction and oversight.
My concern about this particular legislative direction is a select
committee of nine individuals who will not have the encompassing
experience to address the totality of the issue. I believe it is
important for the committees of jurisdiction to be able to do their
job, and let me give an example. The Committee on the Judiciary shortly
after September 11 was called to the task to pass the Patriot Act. And
although it may have changed on the floor of the House, we did it
expeditiously and with consensus. Whether one agrees or disagrees with
that legislative initiative, it is now in place.
We were then called to do the restructuring of the INS, now named the
Barbara Jordan Immigration and Naturalization Reform Act. That was done
expeditiously and voted on the floor of this House by a vote of 405-9.
It disturbs me that we have legislation now that precludes the input,
if you will, in a more effective manner from the members of the
committees of jurisdiction. Not that there is not some value to the
culling of the work to be done by the House in a select committee.
I worked for a select committee, the Select Committee on
Assassinations that investigated the assassinations of President
Kennedy and as well Martin Luther King. Select committees can be
effective. Mickey Leland, my predecessor, encouraged the Select
Committee on Hunger. But this is too important an issue to narrowly
focus the decision-making around a body of just nine.
I would ask my colleagues to consider the expertise needed in this
particular legislative initiative. I would
also welcome any further explanations as to how the committees of
jurisdiction will provide their insight, their expertise. As I look at
the creation of the department, at least as proposed by the President,
the Department of Border Safety and Transportation, this begs the
question of how you will organize the Border Patrol agents whom I just
visited with in El Paso, Texas, around this particular concept. The
expertise of the committees of jurisdiction are needed. We can do this
together. We can do this timely. But do not shut us out. Do not shut
the expertise of the Members of Congress out and realize that we do
have the responsibility of oversight to make this a better piece of
Mr. FROST. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
This is a very important proposal before us today, and it is in fact
a bipartisan proposal; and I think it speaks well of this institution
that we can work on a bipartisan basis on something this important. I
also am pleased that the leadership on both sides has now agreed that
once the select committee has acted that the matter then will be
brought to the Rules Committee and that the Rules Committee will then
handle this in the normal way, adopting a rule for consideration on the
floor. I would hope that when we do that, that we would adopt an open
rule so that the key issues can be joined on the floor.
This is a very important decision that we will be making. There are
many people in the House who have some very good ideas. I hope they
will be given the opportunity to offer those on the floor during
consideration of this important piece of legislation.
I would point out to the House that in the late 1970s when the
Department of Education was created, that was considered on this floor
under an open rule procedure. Everyone had the opportunity to offer
their ideas, votes were held and we ultimately adopted the legislation
creating the new department. Certainly that is an appropriate model for
the decisions that we will be making later this year. I urge adoption
of this resolution.
Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. DREIER. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself the balance of my time.
Mr. Speaker, on September 11 this Nation and the world faced one of
the most extraordinary challenges in our Nation's history. It was a
tragedy that caused tremendous loss of life and suffering all over the
world. People from 80 nations were in the World Trade Center when we
saw the attack that took place.
In the days and weeks and months that have followed September 11, it
has been very gratifying to see a silver lining in that dark cloud of
September 11. That silver lining has been the sense of solidarity among
the American people, and that has been represented very well here in
the United States Congress, the greatest deliberative body known to
man. We saw President Bush act swiftly following September 11 by asking
our former colleague, Governor Tom Ridge, to lead the effort to deal
with homeland security. We have now taken that next step to begin today
to put into place an effort which will establish a Department of
Homeland Security. As the President has said, it is not designed to
expand the reaches of the Federal Government. Instead it is designed to
take these multifarious agencies which fall under the rubric of a wide
range of entities and bring them together, consolidate them, so that in
fact there will be a level of accountability, accountability so that in
fact our homeland security will be more effectively addressed.
In 1854, Henry David Thoreau said, ``For a thousand hackings at the
branches of evil, it is worth nothing to one strike at the root.''
Mr. Speaker, we have seen our great President, the Vice President,
the Secretary of Defense, our national security adviser, the Secretary
of State and others focus on that root of evil, the al Qaeda and other
terrorist organizations around the world. What we are doing here with
the Department of Homeland Security is we are focusing on these
branches that still need to be addressed because we are working
diligently to get at the root, but at the same time we still face a
threat here in the United States. I believe that the vote which we are
going to take momentarily will be the first step towards dealing with
this very important issue of establishing a Federal Department of
Homeland Security. I urge my colleagues to support it.
Mr. CASTLE. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank you and the leadership for
working quickly to address the legislative requirements needed to begin
the process to take up legislation regarding the creation of a new
Department of Homeland Security. I praise the White House for its swift
delivery of the proposed legislation and now it is the House of
Representative's turn to move forward on this monumental proposal by
drafting and overseeing the legislation that will make this all a
I am pleased that the leadership has made the needed provisions to
take up the President's proposal in a way that will lessen the prospect
of jurisdictional gridlock and perhaps the untimely implementation of
the new Department of Homeland Security. H. Res. 449 will allow for a
temporary House Select Committee on Homeland Security to receive and
review individual recommendations of current House standing committees
to create a new Department of Homeland Security, and for consolidating
these proposals into a comprehensive bill for House consideration.
This is a great first step, and I look forward to working with the
leadership and the White House to move the legislation through Congress
and to implement the President's historic proposal. However, we must
unite to ultimately form a permanent standing committee in Congress
with an adjoining appropriations subcommittee to oversee our domestic
security. This is a permanent Department and we need a permanent
committee to oversee it.
Mr. DREIER. Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time, and I
move the previous question on the resolution.
The previous question was ordered.
The resolution was agreed to.
A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.
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