GOP Decries Intelligence Committee Ratios

Posted January 13, 2009 at 2:23pm

The top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee lambasted Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Tuesday for reducing the number of GOP seats on his committee, arguing the move flies in the face of recommendations made by the bipartisan 9/11 commission.

“This is a brazen move by Democrats to pack the Intelligence Committee and drive intelligence into a partisan realm,” Intelligence ranking member Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.) said.

“From cutting pork-barrel earmarks in the intelligence bill to continuing the Terrorist Surveillance Program, the committee made bipartisan, centrist decisions several times during the last Congress,” he added. “Speaker Pelosi has clearly made a decision that the ‘D’ beside a Member’s name is more important than national security and conducting strong, bipartisan intelligence oversight.”

However, House Democrats were quick to push back, arguing that the 9/11 commission did not specifically address changing the ratios of current Congressional Intelligence committees. Rather, Democrats said the 9/11 commission — which issued its findings in 2004 — called for a one-vote majority advantage under a “new” Intelligence Committee structure that has yet to be implemented.

“Most of the committees in the 111th Congress reflect a 60-40 ratio, which is the ratio in the full House,” Pelosi spokesman Nadeam Elshami said. “Republicans are attempting to score political points when the facts and historical record are not on their side.”

In the 110th Congress, Democrats outnumbered Republicans on the House Intelligence panel, 12-9. In the 111th Congress, the Democrats will gain a four-seat advantage, with the ratio changing to 12-8.

Although House Democrats enjoyed a three-seat hold on the committee in the last Congress, Republicans did not make an issue of it at the time. Republicans enjoyed a similar 12-9 majority hold on the panel when they controlled the chamber in the 109th Congress.

Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said the move went directly against promises Democrats made last Congress to implement the 9/11 commission recommendations.

“The Majority claims to support all of the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations, but are in fact defying one of its most important ones: to make intelligence oversight less partisan,” Boehner said in a statement. “They can’t have it both ways.”

Section 13.4 of the final report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, titled “Unity of Effort in the Congress,” recommends: “The majority party’s representation on this committee should never exceed the minority’s representation by more than one.”