Groups call for House Intel to open initial meeting

There are calls for House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., to comply with House rules and open Wednesday’s committee meeting. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The House Intelligence Committee is scheduled to hold its initial organizational meeting of the year on Wednesday, but outside groups are claiming the closed meeting violates House rules.

House Rules require that business meetings be open to the public and the press, but allows a committee to vote to close the open session for a few specific reasons, including discussion of national security or law enforcement information.

The Intelligence panel frequently holds closed meetings in a secure room so that lawmakers may freely discuss classified information. On Wednesday, lawmakers will adopt the committee’s rules for the new Congress, a document more likely to include procedural guidance than sensitive information.

A group of 13 organizations penned a letter Tuesday to House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., requesting that this first meeting of the 116th Congress begin in open session. 

“We understand that it likely is inconvenient for the committee to hold its business meeting in a room open to the public and then to move to a secure room should the committee vote to close the proceedings. However, the principle of defaulting to an open and accountable government and the requirement that moving to closed proceedings occur only after a public vote, enshrined in the House rules, controls in these circumstances,” reads the letter.

The letter is signed by, Demand Progress Education Fund, National Security Counselors, Project On Government Oversight, the R Street Institute and others.

A Democratic committee aide told Roll Call that the location is a standing practice for the panel. A transcript of the proceedings will be released following the meeting, with any classified information redacted.

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