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environmental policy would be placed in one committee where they can be
heard and resolved.25

The Hansen Committee and Its Plan As concerns with this and other aspects of the select committee's proposal mounted, the House Democratic Caucus directed one of its party committees, the Committee on Organization, Study, and Review chaired by Representative Julia Butler Hansen of Washington, to review the Bolling proposal. The Hansen committee, in turn, drafted a substantially less comprehensive alternative to the Bolling reorganization plan.

In October 1974, the House considered the original Bolling proposal, along with the Hansen plan, and a third alternative offered by Representative David Martin (R-NE), the vice chairman of the Bolling Committee. On October 8, 1974, the House adopted the less-ambitious Hansen plan with some minor modifications. Under the Hansen plan, as agreed to, the Interior and Insular Affairs Committee's name remained the unchanged. Many areas of energy and environmental jurisdiction planned for transfer to the Interior Committee under the Bolling plan remained unchanged. However, there were significant alterations in the Interior Committee's jurisdiction.



Interior Committee Jurisdiction Changes Under the revised jurisdiction rules recommended by the Hansen committee which went into effect at the beginning of the 94th Congress, the Interior and Insular Affairs Committee lost its authority over energy and environmental research and development to the Committee on Science and Technology.?' The Interior Committee lost legislative jurisdiction over Indian education programs to the Committee on Education and Labor, but retained responsibility for other Indian-related issues. Legislatively, the Committee gained jurisdiction over parks in the District of Columbia from the Public Works and Transportation Committee.

The Hansen reforms established a new committee authority called “special oversight jurisdiction.” It had been understood previously that committees were responsible for overseeing the operations of programs and laws within their legislative jurisdictions. However, all three reorganization plans called for granting several House committees (including the Interior Committee) so-called "special oversight" powers. These committees were authorized to oversee

2SU.S. Congress, House, Select Committee on Committees, Committee Reform Amendments of 1974, H. Rept. 93-916, pt. II, 93rd Cong., 2nd sess. (Washington: GPO, 1974), pp. 36-37. 26 The work of the Bolling Committee and the reorganization of the House committees ultimately achieved through the modified Hansen plan is comprehensively reviewed in Davidson, Roger H. and Walter J. Oleszek, Congress Against Itself (Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1977). 27 These terms were not contained in House Rules until the 1974 committee reforms, but in earlier Congresses, both the Interior Committee and the Science and Astronautics Committee (and other committees as well, especially prior to the creation of the Science Committee in 1958) had been involved in such issues without a formal jurisdictional mandate. Pursuant to H.Res. 988, jurisdictional language was incorporated into House Rule X on this subject and assigned to the

programs over which they did not have exclusive or even predominant legislative jurisdiction.


As a result of this Rule change, the Interior Committee acquired special oversight authority over all programs affecting Indians, and non-military nuclear energy and research and development, including disposal of nuclear waste. In both areas, several committees shared legislative authority, but the Interior Committee could conduct oversight on these policy areas without regard to limitations on its legislative authority. The House, thereby, hoped to assure systematic and comprehensive review of controversial policy areas without regard for fragmentation of committee legislative authority over these subjects.


Multiple Referrals Authorized The 1974 committee reforms additionally permitted the referral of legislation to more than one committee. Under the former House Rule, bills were referred to the committee with legislative jurisdiction over the predominant subject of the bill. Not infrequently, portions of a bill might come within the formal jurisdiction of another committee, which would normally be denied the opportunity to review even that smaller section of the bill in question.

Under the new rule, the Speaker was given authority to refer bills simultaneously to two or more committees for concurrent consideration or to divide a bill into its component parts in order to refer the pieces to the appropriate committees. Under either the joint or split referral described, all committees considering a bill or parts thereof were required to report back to the House before chamber consideration could be scheduled. Alternatively, the Speaker could refer a bill first to one committee, and then when that bill was reported, refer the measure (along with any amendments endorsed by the first panel) to one or more additional committees to consider provisions falling within their legislative jurisdictions. Secondary committees under such a referral could have a time limit imposed on them by the Speaker.

Creation of Ad Hoc Committees Allowed Finally, the Speaker was authorized to propose to the House the creation of an ad hoc committee to consider a particularly complex bill. Twice since 1975 the Speaker has proposed such ad hoc committees-the Ad Hoc Committee on the Outer Continental Shelf (1975) and the Ad Hoc Committee on Energy (1977)-and, in both instances, members of the Interior and Insular Affairs Committee served on these important panels. From the work of these committees came landmark legislation regulating the development of natural resources on outer continental shelf lands and establishing a national energy policy.

As an appendix to the 1974 committee reorganization, the House amended its rules at the beginning of the 94th Congress in 1975 to require that all standing

28 The rationale for these special oversight grants is described in Committee Reform Amendments, H. committees having 20 members or more (except for the Committee on Budget) establish a minimum of four subcommittees. The provision was intended to require House committee chairmen to share responsibility with a group of subcommittee leaders. The principal target of this Rules change was the House Ways and Means Committee, which traditionally had not established subcommittees. The Interior Committee was generally unaffected by this Rules change, having established eight subcommittees in the 93d Congress.

Interior Committee and Nuclear Power Jurisdiction, 1977

The Interior Committee received a major expansion in jurisdiction in 1977. As a result of action taken by the Senate in reorganizing its committees, no Senators were assigned to the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy (ICAE) and the newly renamed Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (the former Senate Interior and Insular Affairs Committee) was directed to consider the formal abolition of the atomic energy panel.

The Joint Committee on Atomic Energy had been established pursuant to the Atomic Energy Act of 1946 (42 U.S.C. $225). It was charged with matters concerning the development, use, and control of atomic energy. The joint committee was the only joint panel in modern times to be given legislative jurisdiction. Consequently, House and Senate bills were referred to the committee, reviewed by it, and reported to the appropriate chamber. The respective House or Senate delegations to the joint committee managed floor debate in their chamber. In most cases, joint committee members also comprised the conference committee that resolved chamber differences on legislation. In the post-World War II environment, such control of a policy issue by such a small number of Members was thought desirable, but by the 1970s, there was growing concern that the views of a broader range of Members on atomic energy issues were not able to be brought before the joint committee. As a result, efforts were undertaken in both chambers to abolish the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy and transfer its jurisdiction to other panels in each chamber.

The House, anticipating favorable Senate action on reorganization proposals with regard to atomic energy jurisdiction, moved to change the jurisdictions of its committees and to transfer legislative and oversight jurisdiction from the joint committee and to reassign it to various House standing committees.

The House Democratic Caucus Committee on Organization, Study, and Review, still chaired by Representative Julia Butler Hansen, with the assistance of Representative Jonathan Bingham (D-NY), a member of the then House Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee, took the lead in suggesting the relevant jurisdiction changes. When the House Democratic Caucus endorsed the nuclear jurisdiction suggestions, they were incorporated into H.Res. 5, the resolution adopting the Rules of the House for the 95th Congress. As a result of was divided among the House Committees on Armed Services, Interstate and Foreign Commerce, Interior and Insular Affairs, and Science and Technology.

Under this Rules change, the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs acquired the authority of the Atomic Energy Committee over the “regulation of the domestic nuclear energy industry, including regulation of research and development reactors and nuclear regulatory research.” To clarify the intent of the House in agreeing to these rules changes, a “memorandum of understanding” was drafted by senior members of the affected committees amplifying their views concerning the referral of legislation under the revised committee jurisdictions. With regard to the Interior Committee and nuclear regulation, the memorandum identified potential areas of jurisdiction overlap.

Under the Rule change ... the jurisdiction of the Joint Committee on
Atomic Energy over various matters concerning the domestic nuclear power
industry is primarily vested in the Committee on Interior and Insular
Affairs; these matters include regulation of research reactors and reactors
used in production of energy for commercial purposes; regulation of the
commercial production and reprocessing of nuclear fuels; regulation of
nuclear waste management at the site of federally-licensed facilities;
regulation of transportation of nuclear fuels and wastes; (sic) nuclear
regulatory research.

The committees recognize that their jurisdictions with respect to nuclear
power may overlap to some extent and in these cases joint or sequential
referrals may be appropriate. For example, one area in which joint or
sequential referral would be appropriate would be regulation of
management and disposal of nuclear wastes.

The intention of the proponents of the Bingham amendment, as modified,
is to give the Interior Committee primary jurisdiction with respect to
legislation that deals principally with nuclear licensing and with safety
regulation of nuclear facilities. However, as noted above, the Commerce
Committee will have concurrent jurisdiction over many of these measures,
and could request a sequential referral of these measures, including
amendments to the Price-Anderson Act and authorizations of appropriations
for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.


The decentralization of atomic energy jurisdiction reflected the decentralization of jurisdiction over most energy matters. The Bolling Committee had been unable to achieve a significant consolidation of energy and related environmental jurisdiction. The abolition of the Joint Atomic Energy Committee further contributed to decentralized authority over energy and


?'Memorandum of Understanding with Respect to Bingham Amendment, Congressional Record, vol. 123, Jan. 3, 1977, p. 64. The terms of the memorandum guided the Speaker in 1985 in referring a bill prescribing procedures for the meetings of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission jointly to the Interior and Energy and Commerce (formerly the Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee) Committees; see Deschler's Procedure in the U.S. House of Representatives, 1987 Supplement, ch. environmental issues in the House, a matter that would not be addressed in a significant manner until 1995.


The House was unable, in 1974, to agree to the comprehensive committee reorganization endorsed by the Bolling Committee. In 1977, the House Commission on Administrative Review urged the House to consider comprehensive committee reform again. This led the House in 1979 to form a second Committee on Committees, this time chaired by Representative Jerry M. Patterson (D-CA). A second oil embargo in November 1979, shortly after the formation of the Patterson Committee, inevitably focused the attention of this second committee on energy jurisdiction change.

The Patterson Committee recommended establishing a new separate Energy Committee which would have jurisdiction over most energy issues. Concurrently, the Patterson Committee proposed enhancing the environmental jurisdiction of the Interior Committee by retaining its nuclear regulatory jurisdiction and granting it additional jurisdiction over the environmental aspects of national energy policy.

As before, these proposals met with substantial opposition and, as before, the House agreed to a substantially modified alternative. Representative Jonathan Bingham, building on his prior role coordinating nuclear energy jurisdiction change, took the lead in crafting the substitute energy jurisdiction realignment, which ultimately passed the House on March 25, 1980.

The Bingham substitute enlarged the coordinating role of the Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee (renamed Committee on Energy and Commerce), granted it jurisdiction over “national energy policy generally” and various other issues with regard to commercial energy uses and to the conservation of power. The Bingham substitute deleted the Patterson Committee's proposal to enhance the environmental jurisdiction of the Interior Committee, and as in 1977, a memorandum of understanding concerning the interpretation of the affected committees' jurisdictions was entered into the Congressional Record to guide subsequent bill referrals. With regard to the Interior Committee, the historic role of the committee was reasserted.

The Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs is to remain the Committee
of primary jurisdiction over regulation of commercial nuclear power,
nuclear regulatory research, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and its
authorization bill. The memorandum of understanding relating to
separation and allocation of jurisdiction over nuclear issues is to remain in
effect as a guide for the referral of legislation.


''Statement of Understanding Concerning Certain Subparagraphs of the Bingham Substitute to

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