House Intelligence Committee faces shakeup

The House Intelligence Committee is facing a major shakeup as a result of Tuesday's election results.

It's been known for some time that a new Republican will be taking over the panel's top GOP post due to the retirement of Intelligence Committee ranking member Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich. The race to succeed Hoekstra will pit Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., against Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, both of whom handily won their reelection battles.

But the big question now is whether Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, stays on as the top Democrat in the minority. Reyes now has a shot to be ranking member on the House Armed Services Committee, as other Democrats on that panel with more seniority lost their reelection bids, including Armed Services Commiteee Chairman Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., and House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. John Spratt, D-S.C.

Reyes could not be reached for comment Wednesday, but House aides, who did not want to be identified because they were not authorized to speak, said they expect him to be interested in the Armed Services slot.

Reyes may find it unappealing to remain on the Intelligence Committee as ranking member after having chaired the panel, aides said.

But no matter what Reyes decides, a battle of succession is expected to play out on the Intelligence Committee.

If Reyes stays on, he is expected to face a challenge from Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif. Eshoo is said to have been making waves recently by telling other lawmakers that she plans to be the top Democrat on the panel.

And she was seen as having an advantage, thanks to a close relationship with House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. But Pelosi's fate is now unclear, due to the beating that Democrats across the country took at the ballot box Tuesday.

Because the Intelligence panel is a select committee, the decision of who will be the Democratic ranking member will be made by the Democratic leader in the new Congress, who is widely expected to be Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md.

Reyes is said to have a good relationship with Hoyer, which means he would probably get to keep the top slot on Intelligence if he wanted it.

But a can of worms would be opened up if Reyes leaves Intelligence. Besides Eshoo, other lawmakers who would likely make a bid for the leadership post include Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., and Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., according to aides.

Harman and Ruppersberger both have solid credentials in the intelligence and national security arena and positive relationships with Hoyer.

Harman previously served as ranking member of the Intelligence Committee before Democrats took over the House in 2006. But she was ousted by Pelosi, who installed Reyes.

Instead, Harman took over as chairwoman of the House Homeland Security Intelligence Subcommittee, where she has continued to be a vocal advocate for intelligence operations.

For some lawmakers in the House Democratic Caucus, returning Harman to the Intelligence Committee could be seen as righting a wrong, aides said. "I would never dismiss that possibility," one aide said.

Ruppersberger, on the other hand, is viewed as a workhorse and expert on intelligence matters. He is now chairman of the Intelligence Technical and Tactical Subcommittee, where he has been quietly but effectively working away at reforming and strengthening U.S. intelligence capabilities.

For now, though, all eyes will be watching Reyes's next move.

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