House Admin to Add Two New Panels

Posted February 14, 2007 at 6:36pm

The expected formation of two new subcommittees designed to deal with Capitol security and elections will highlight the House Administration Committee’s first hearing of the 110th Congress on Friday.

A spokeswoman for Chairwoman Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-Calif.) said, however, that the committee was waiting to hear back from a few members to see if they will be able to attend. Organizational matters, including the issue of subcommittees, will be the focus of the hearing, she said.

“They’ll take care of a lot of things,” spokeswoman Janice Crump said.

Salley Collins, a spokeswoman for ranking member Vernon Ehlers (R-Mich.), said Republicans are open to the idea of the two subcommittees.

“We appreciate these attempts at increasing the focus on these important oversight issues and look forward to discussing them in greater detail at Friday’s organizational meeting,” Collins said.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), who is set to chair the subcommittee on elections, said she hopes to study the use of electronic voting machines, which have had problems all over the country.

“I think it’s a good challenge, and one of the most important things is that we have a voting system that has integrity,” said Lofgren, who learned she had been nominated for the post Wednesday afternoon.

In her new position, Lofgren will oversee a range of election laws and groups. As a whole, the creation of subcommittees probably is a good thing, Lofgren said.

A chairman for the security panel had not been announced as of press time.

Prior to the 1994 Republican takeover of Congress, there were many subcommittees under House Administration, Lofgren said. And while she admitted there probably were too many subcommittees before, there were too few under the GOP (there weren’t any, in fact).

“Hopefully this will be the right balance,” she said.

The subcommittee proposal is not expected to include any additional funding for staff or new resources for the committee. Funding instead would come from the full committee budget.

The creation of the two subcommittees would be a big change for House Administration, which has functioned without them for more than a decade. Aside from Capitol security and elections, the committee also oversees an array of duties dealing with the day-to-day functions of the House and other legislative branch agencies.

House Administration is one of the last committees to organize this Congress.

Just last week, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) officially named the Democratic members of the panel — Lofgren, Reps. Robert Brady (Pa.), Charlie Gonzalez (Texas) and Susan Davis (Calif.).

Reps. Ehlers, Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) and Dan Lungren (Calif.) fill the committee’s three Republican spots.

“We appreciate the attention that is being given to these important issues and we look forward to hearing about them on Friday,” McCarthy said.

Friday’s hearing is set to take place at 10 a.m. in Room 1309 of Longworth House Office Building.