WASHINGTON — The newly minted House Armed Services Committee chairman is putting his mark on the panel, shifting oversight of military intelligence to the purview of the full committee.
HASC members on Wednesday approved a set of committee rules crafted by Chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, including one to strip intel matters from its from its Emerging Threats and Capabilities subcommittee.
The organizational meeting was the first session during which with Thornberry wielded the gavel and presided over Congress' largest committee as its chairman. For the latest national security news from Capitol Hill, go to CongressWatch.Oversight of military intelligence matters and any legislative actions related to the issue could be better handled "at the full committee level," Thornberry said during the meeting.
The new HASC chairman has a unique perspective on that point because he chaired what then was called the Intelligence, Emerging Threats, Capabilities subcommittee during the 113th Congress.
One issue on which Thornberry focused during his run as IETC chairman was the Pentagon's plans for the Defense Clandestine Service.
Thornberry pushed language during HASC's work on the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would have slapped limitations on funds to establish the cadre of military spies.
"This doesn't mean the Defense Clandestine Service is doing a bad job," he said at that time. "This is a special entity that deserves special scrutiny."
The change means Thornberry will retain direct authority over the panel's oversight and legislative work on military intel issues.
The Defense Department last November scaled back its plans for the military spy agency, in part because of concerns from lawmakers like Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., now the upper chamber's Armed Services Committee chairman, about its need, cost and mission.