NY Daily News: King, Thompson Spar Over Committee Productivity

NY Daily News — by Joseph Straw

WASHINGTON– The top Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee claims it’s becoming a “do nothing” panel under Chairman Pete King (R-L.I.) that sends little legislation to the House floor.

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) issued a press release and “fact sheet” Wednesday crediting the committee with just one bill since King took the gavel in January, compared to seven each in 2007 and 2009, the first years of the congresses in which Thompson presided.

King fired back promptly, listing eight more bills the committee has voted on this year, including one drafted by Thompson and the first legislation to reauthorize Department of Homeland Security since its establishment in 2002.

“[T]he document he calls a ‘fact sheet’ fails to mention these important facts,” King said in a written statement. “It is not surprising that the Ranking Member chooses not to mention the recently passed DHS authorization bill, given the fact that for three years in a row then-Chairman Thompson failed to even get a DHS authorization bill through his own committee.”

King’s current chairmanship – his second – has focused on an issue he charges Thompson disregarded in the interest of political correctness: the threat posed by radical Islam.

“This is in sharp contrast to the Democrats, who in 4 years never held even one hearing on such vital issues as Guantanamo, Ft. Hood, the New York City subway plot or the Times Square bombing,” King said.
Five of Thompson’s 14 first-year bills became law, including 2007’s 9/11 Commission Act, which levied requirements including 100 percent air cargo screening.

The one Committee bill passed by the full House this year is the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Business Travel Cards Act of 2011, which would ease travel for business and government leaders in the region.

In addition to the DHS authorization bill, pending King legislation would allocate open radio spectrum for first responders, and would shield terror tipsters from civil liability.

King’s DHS authorization bill and a Senate counterpart have yet to be considered by the full chambers. DHS secretary Janet Napolitano, however, acted preemptively on a requirement in both bills, designating one of her advisors responsible for addressing extremism in the U.S.