House Administration Chairman Dan Lungren (R) abolished the Subcommittee on Capitol Security on Tuesday, deciding instead that all security matters will be handled at the full committee level.
The former California attorney general, who had been ranking member on the subcommittee when Republicans were in the minority, has long said that security is his top issue. Doing away with the subcommittee will allow contributions from all nine members of the full committee, which has jurisdiction over the House Sergeant-at-Arms, the Capitol Police and other matters relating to Member and staff security.
“Because it’s such a paramount issue, he wanted it to be handled by the whole committee,” Lungren spokeswoman Salley Wood said. “He wants to get more input. He thinks this issue is that important.”
The move comes just weeks after Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) was shot and one of her staffers was killed in Tucson, Ariz. Since the shootings, Lungren has said he plans an “A-to-Z” review of security protocol both on the Capitol grounds and in Members’ districts.
“There is a very serious concern about how we provide appropriate security in the districts,” Lungren said, outlining his priorities for hearings during the 112th Congress.
The subcommittee change was adopted without objection by voice vote at the committee’s first organizational meeting.
Replacing the subcommittee is the newly created Subcommittee on Oversight, which will be chaired by Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) and have oversight of nonsecurity Congressional support agencies such as the Library of Congress, the Architect of the Capitol and the Chief Administrative Officer.
Lungren said the new subcommittee structure will allow the majority to better identify and get rid of waste and operate with greater transparency.
Indeed, the committee rules include new language stating that one of the committee’s main objectives is to work “with House officers to identify and reduce spending and create more cost effective and efficient operations within the House.”
The language signifies a change in priorities at the committee level due to the GOP takeover of the House.
In particular, the Government Printing Office seems singled out for cuts. The resolution establishing the committee’s priorities includes language calling for a review of the House’s printing needs “to identify the potential for elimination of duplications.” The House passed a bill last week that would eliminate some of the agency’s printing projects.
The committee also adopted by unanimous voice vote several technical changes to its rules that will allow it to conform with the rules of the whole House, including posting all documents online. It also adopted several technical changes to the House parking policy.
In a move that surprised even Lungren, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (Calif.) declined to serve on the Subcommittee on Elections, on which she has been the top Democrat since it was created in the 110th Congress.
Lungren mistakenly announced at the hearing that she would be ranking member on that committee, to which Lofgren replied, “Nope.”
Instead, the full committee’s ranking member, Rep. Robert Brady (Pa.), will be the top Democrat on that subcommittee, which Rep. Gregg Harper (R-Miss.) will chair. Lofgren will be ranking member on the Subcommittee on Oversight.