Chair: Bennie Thompson
Projected Grade for the 116th Congress*
* Adjustments have been applied so that committees' grades are not lowered by the constraints on hearings caused by Covid-19 [oversight-index.thelugarcenter.org/covid-19-statement]
12 Investigative Oversight Hearings
28 Policy/Legislative Hearings
72 Total HearingsLast updated: June 27, 2020, 10:47 a.m.
Unlike its Senate counterpart, the committee is more narrowly focused on the Department of Homeland Security and its myriad agencies that were cobbled together into a new cabinet department after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. That reflects its slightly different history: it was first formed as a nine-member, non-permanent Committee to provide oversight over the development of the DHS. It was designated a standing committee in 2005. (The Senate committee was formed by adding DHS responsibilities to the existing Government Affairs Committee.) Besides oversight of DHS operations, the House committee’s jurisdiction includes immigration policy and border security, transportation and infrastructure security, emergency preparedness, cybersecurity, counterterrorism, the Secret Service, and election security. It is relatively small for a legislative House committee, with only 31 members. It has six subcommittees: transportation and maritime security; emergency preparedness, response and recovery; border security, facilitation and operations; cybersecurity, infrastructure protection and innovation; oversight, management and accountability; and intelligence and counterterrorism.
Over the years, the committee, consistent with its small membership, has maintained one of the lighter hearing schedules among legislative House committees. In four of the previous five Congresses, it averaged fewer than 90 hearings per Congress. The exception was the 112th Congress (2011-2012), when Republican Peter King of New York took over the gavel from Democrat Bennie Thompson of Mississippi and held 126 hearings. This included 87 policy and legislative hearings, far more than the committee’s norm.
Because of its different history, House Homeland Security does not have the same tradition of investigative oversight as the Senate version, where the Senate Government Affairs Committee already had its storied Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. Nonetheless, the House committee is one of the more active in House investigative oversight, with as many as seven investigative hearings each in the 113th and 114th Congresses (2013-16) under Chair Michael McCaul (R, Tex.). In the 115th Congress, also under Chair McCaul, the committee held five investigative oversight hearings: a March 2017 hearing into Inspector General and GAO reports about weaknesses and failures in the screening processes at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services; a July, 2017, hearing into allegations of employee misconduct at the Federal Emergency Management Agency; a November, 2017 hearing on the effectiveness of DHS’s Science and Technology Directorate; a February, 2018, hearing into weaknesses and errors in the nation’s emergency alerts and warning systems; and an April, 2018 hearing into the problems and delays with consolidating DHS’s scattered operations at a new headquarters at the former St. Elizabeth’s Hospital site in the District.
111th Congress: Bennie Thompson (D-MS)
112th Congress: Peter King (R-NY)
113th Congress: Michael McCaul (R-TX)
114th Congress: Michael McCaul (R-TX)
115th Congress: Michael McCaul (R-TX)
116th Congress: Bennie Thompson (D-MS)
We are 82% of the way through the 116th Congress
House Committee on Homeland Security12 Investigative Oversight Hearings; 100% historical maximum
Number of Hearings
Committee Hearing Performance