Rep. King promises to reshape security after critical 9/11 report
By Jordy Yager
September 1, 2011
The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee on Thursday pledged to work with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to reorganize the lower chamber’s committees that oversee homeland security issues.
Rep. Peter King’s (R-N.Y.) promise came in response to the 9/11 Commission’s 10th anniversary report card, which found that millions of dollars have been wasted and the nation’s security has been jeopardized because of the antiquated structure of congressional oversight with regards to homeland security matters.
Efforts to reorganize congressional oversight of the Department of Homeland Security are nearly as old as the department itself, but have all failed due to political infighting and the reluctance of high-ranking lawmakers to concede their committee’s jurisdiction, according to the report.
More than 100 congressional committees and subcommittees have jurisdiction over DHS and the many agencies under its umbrella. As a result, millions of dollars are wasted each year, according to the report, which states that DHS provided nearly 4,000 briefings to lawmakers in the 111th Congress and sent official witnesses to testify more than 285 times.
“This amounted to many thousands of hours of work, often duplicating efforts, and cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars,” the commission states in its report, which was released earlier this week.
The report pointed to the problem of congressional overlap. As an example, it noted that one committee deals with the security of air-bound cargo, while another committee oversees sea-bound cargo.
“The security of cargo should not depend on whether it moves by air or sea and the committee that has jurisdiction over the agency that regulates that method of transit,” the commission states.