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United States House Committee on Homeland Security


The U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security is a standing committee of the United States House of Representatives. Its responsibilities include U.S. security legislation and oversight of the Department of Homeland Security.

Role of the Committee

The committee conducts oversight and handles legislation (and resolutions) related to the security of the United States. The committee may amend, approve, or table homeland security related bills. It also has the power to hold hearings, conduct investigations, and subpoena witnesses. Additionally, the committee has authorization and policy oversight responsibilities over the Department of Homeland Security.

Rules of the Committee

The committee meets on the first Wednesday of each month while the House is in session. It is not permitted to conduct business unless a quorum is present, which the rules define as one third of its members. A majority of members are required for certain actions including: issuing a subpoena, entering executive session, and immunizing a witness. Committee members have access to classified information but must adhere to stringent access control procedures.

History of the Committee

In the 107th Congress, the House Select Committee on Homeland Security was established on June 19, 2002, pursuant to H. Res. 449 (adopted by voice vote). The Committee was composed of nine Members of the House: Mr. Armey, Chairman; Mr. DeLay; Mr. Watts of Oklahoma; Ms. Pryce of Ohio; Mr. Portman; Ms. Pelosi; Mr. Frost; Mr. Menendez; and Ms. DeLauro.

The mandate of the Select Committee in the 107th Congress was to “develop recommendations and report to the House on such matters that relate to the establishment of a department of homeland security.” The Select Committee accomplished its mandate on November 22, 2002, when the House concurred in the Senate amendment to H.R. 5005 by unanimous consent, and cleared H.R. 5005 for the President. The bill was presented to the President on November 22, 2002, and was signed on November 25, 2002, becoming Public Law number 107-296, the "Homeland Security Act of 2002".

The termination date of the House Select Committee on Homeland Security was “after final disposition of a bill including final disposition of any veto message on such bill, ” which occurred on November 25, 2002.

The second select committee was formed in 2003 at the beginning of the 108th Congress as a select committee with Rep. Christopher Cox of California as its Chairman and Jim Turner of Texas as its Ranking Member. The creation of the committee was necessitated by the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. As an executive branch department, the newly formed Department of Homeland Security required congressional counterparts to facilitate legislative action and oversight.

The committee was made permanent when it was elevated to standing status by vote of the House of Representatives on January 4, 2005 on the opening day of the 109th Congress, again with Rep. Chris Cox as its first permanent Chairman. Rep. Bennie G. Thompson of Mississippi was the Committee' first permanent Ranking Member. Chris Cox, however, resigned from Congress in July 2005 to become the Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Rep. Peter T. King of New York was named as his replacement as Chairman for the remainder of the 109th Congress.

As Congress switched parties at the beginning of the 110th, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson was the Chairman of

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