House Dems raise concerns over new homeland panel

House Democrats, in a letter to Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., last week, raised concerns about how the new select Homeland Security Committee would affect standing committee jurisdictions and said they wanted more of a role in deciding about homeland security issues in the future.

"[W]e are writing to express serious concerns about the manner in which the establishment of a proposed new select committee on Homeland Security is being handled," the letter stated. "The language establishing the select committee is vague, raising many unanswered questions about its membership and mandate, as well as its relationship to current standing committees."

The Jan. 8 letter was signed by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Democratic leaders and 12 ranking committee members. Pelosi, who has not named a ranking member to the select committee, said last week that she would have preferred broader participation on the panel. A Pelosi spokesman said Wednesday Pelosi would likely name committee Democrats after the House returns Jan. 27.

Under the House rules package passed last week, the panel was given legislative and oversight authority over homeland security issues. House rules did not specify the committee's size, ratios or membership, but GOP leaders said the panel's membership would consist of the chairmen and ranking members of relevant standing committees, or their designees. Hastert has named Rep. Christopher Cox, R-Calif., as committee chairman, but has not named the panel's other Republicans.

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