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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 Terrorist 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.”
|Investigations (Permanent)||Rob Portman (R-OH)||Tom Carper (D-DE)|
|Federal Spending Oversight and Emergency Management||Rand Paul (R-KY)||Gary Peters (D-MI)|
|Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management||James Lankford (R-OK)||Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND)|
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