The United States Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs is the chief oversight committee of the United States Senate. It has jurisdiction over matters related to the Department of Homeland Security and other homeland security concerns, as well as the functioning of the government itself, including the National Archives, budget and accounting measures other than appropriations, the Census, the federal civil service, the affairs of the District of Columbia and the United States Postal Service. It was called the United States Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs before homeland security was added to its responsibilities in 2004. It serves as the Senate's chief investigative and oversight committee. Its chair is the only Senate committee chair who can issue subpoenas without a committee vote.
While elements of the Committee can be traced back into the 19th century, its modern origins began with the creation of the Committee on Expenditures in the Executive Departments on April 18, 1921. The Committee on Expenditures in the Executive Department was renamed the Committee on Government Operations in 1952, which was reorganized as the Committee on Governmental Affairs in 1978. After passage of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, the Committee became the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and added homeland security to its jurisdiction.
Of the five current subcommittees, the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations is the oldest and most storied, having been created at the same time as the Committee on Government Operations in 1952. The Subcommittee on the Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce, and the District of Columbia was established after the creation of the Committee on Governmental Affairs in 1978. The Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services and International Security was created in 2003.
Two ad hoc subcommittees were established in January 2007 to reflect the Committee's expanded homeland security jurisdiction. They were the Subcommittee on Disaster Recovery and the Subcommittee on State, Local, and Private Sector Preparedness and Integration. The Subcommittee on Contracting was added in 2009. In 2011, the Disaster and State, Local, and Private Sector subcommittees were merged to form the Subcommittee on Disaster Recovery and Intergovernmental Affairs.
Over the years, the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and its predecessors have dealt with a number of important issues, including government accountability, Congressional ethics, regulatory affairs, and systems and information security. In 2003, after the Homeland Security Act of 2002 established the Department of Homeland Security, the Committee adopted primary oversight of the creation and subsequent policies, operations, and actions of the Department.
In the past decade, the committee has focused particularly on the Department of Homeland Security's ability to respond to a major catastrophe, such as Hurricane Katrina; the rise of homegrown terrorism in the United States; and the vulnerabilities of the nation's most critical networks, those operating systems upon which our national defense, economy, and way of life depend, such as the power grid, water treatment facilities, transportation and financial networks, nuclear reactors, and dams.
In February 2014, staff working for committee ranking member Senator Tom Coburn issued a report raising concerns that some passwords protecting highly sensitive government data "wouldn’t pass muster for even the most basic civilian email account."
In accordance of Rule XXV(k) of the United States Senate, all proposed legislation, messages, petitions, memorials, and other matters relating primarily to the following subjects is referred to the Senate Homeland Security Committee:
- Archives of the United States;
- Budget and accounting measures, other than appropriations, except as provided in the Congressional Budget Act of 1974;
- Census and collection of statistics, including economic and social statistics;
- Congressional organization, except for any part of the matter that amends the rules or orders of the Senate;
- Department of Homeland Security, as provided in S.Res.445.
- Federal Civil Service;
- Government information;
- Intergovernmental relations;
- Municipal affairs of the District of Columbia, except appropriations therefor;
- Organization and management of United States nuclear export policy;
- Organization and reorganization of the executive branch of Government;
- Postal Service; and
- Status of officers and employees of the United States, including their classification, compensation, and benefits.
The committee also has the duty of:
- receiving and examining reports of the Comptroller General of the United States and of submitting such recommendations to the Senate as it deems necessary or desirable in connection with the subject matter of such reports;
- studying the efficiency, economy, and effectiveness of all agencies and departments of the Government;
- evaluating the effects of laws enacted to reorganize the legislative and executive branches of the Government; and
- studying the intergovernmental relationships between the United States and the States and municipalities, and between the United States and international organizations of which the United States is a member.
Members, 117th Congress
Subcommittees, 117th Congress
|Emerging Threats and Spending Oversight||Maggie Hassan (D-NH)||Rand Paul (R-KY)|
|Government Operations and Border Management||Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ)||James Lankford (R-OK)|
|Investigations (Permanent)||Jon Ossoff (D-GA)||Ron Johnson (R-WI)|
Committee on Expenditures in Executive Departments, 1921–1952
- Medill McCormick (R-Ill.) 1921–1925
- David A. Reed (R-Pa.) 1925–1927
- Frederic M. Sackett (R-Ky.) 1927–1930
- Guy D. Goff (R-W.Va.) 1930–1931
- Frederick Steiwer (R-Ore.) 1931–1933
- J. Hamilton Lewis (D-Ill.) 1933–1939
- Frederick Van Nuys (D-Ind.) 1939���1942
- J. Lister Hill (D-Ala.) 1942–1947
- George D. Aiken (R-Vt.) 1947–1949
- John L. McClellan (D-Ark.) 1949-1952
Committee on Government Operations, 1952–1977
- John L. McClellan (D-Ark.) 1952–1953
- Joseph R. McCarthy (R-Wis.) 1953–1955
- John L. McClellan (D-Ark.) 1955–1972
- Samuel J. Ervin Jr. (D-N.C.) 1972–1974
- Abraham A. Ribicoff (D-Conn.) 1974–1977
Committee on Governmental Affairs, 1977–2005
- Abraham A. Ribicoff (D-Conn.) 1977–1981
- William V. Roth, Jr. (R-Del.) 1981–1987
- John H. Glenn, Jr. (D-Ohio) 1987–1995
- William V. Roth, Jr. (R-Del.) 1995
- Theodore F. Stevens (R-Alaska) 1995–1997
- Fred D. Thompson (R-Tenn.) 1997–2001
- Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.) 2001
- Fred D. Thompson (R-Tenn.) 2001
- Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.) 2001–2003
- Susan M. Collins (R-Maine) 2003–2005
Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, 2005–present
- Susan M. Collins (R-Maine) 2005–2007
- Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) 2007–2013
- Tom Carper (D-Del.) 2013–2015
- Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) 2015–2021
- Gary Peters (D-Mich.) 2021–present
Historical committee rosters
|Federal Spending Oversight and Emergency Management||Rand Paul (R-KY)||Maggie Hassan (D-NH)|
|Investigations (Permanent)||Rob Portman (R-OH)||Tom Carper (D-DE)|
|Government Operations and Border Management||James Lankford (R-OK)||Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ)|
- History of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
- U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs official website
- Brown, Alex (February 4, 2014). "The Incredibly Dumb Way the Government Is Guarding Top-Secret Data". NationalJournal.com. National Journal Group Inc. Retrieved February 8, 2014.
- S.Res.445 (108th Congress)
- "Full Committee and Subcommittee Jurisdictions for the 117th Congress | U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs" (PDF). Retrieved March 13, 2021. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
- Homel, U. S. Senate Committee on; Security; Washington, Governmental Affairs 340 Dirksen Senate Office Building; DC; Committee, 20510224-4751 Get Directions Contact The. "About the Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs | Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee". www.hsgac.senate.gov. Retrieved January 28, 2021.
- Peters & Portman Announce Chairs and Ranking Members of New Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittees
- Gorenstein, Nathan (November 5, 1986). "Biden would rather see Kennedy in Judiciary chair". The News Journal. Wilmington, Delaware. p. 8 – via Newspapers.com.
- Barton, Paul (March 26, 1995). "Senator Glenn Rails at New Ways". The Cincinnati Enquirer. p. 21 – via Newspapers.com.
- Johnson, Peters Announce Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee Membership
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