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Early in the 103rd Congress, the House voted, as part of the resolution adopting the rules for the new Congress, to change the name of the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs to the Committee on Natural Resources. As with the name change from the Committee on Public Lands to the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs at the beginning of the 82nd Congress, many members felt the old name did not reflect the committee's current focus."




The Committee on Natural Resources received a major expansion in jurisdiction in 1995. As a result of the 1994 elections, the House leadership was organized by Republicans for the first time since 1953. A major theme of the Republican election campaign was congressional reform. In 1993, many reform proposals had been offered by Republican House Members serving on the Joint Committee on the Organization of Congress, but these were rejected by the Democratic majority on this panel. 32 A substantial portion of this Republican reform package was, however, agreed to by the House, under Republican control, at the beginning of the 104th Congress in 1995. The jurisdiction, structure, and even the name of the Committee on Natural Resources were changed as a result of these Rules revisions.

The Joint Committee on the Organization of Congress A series of management scandals in Congress, coupled with the belief that the House and Senate were inefficiently organized, led Congress in 1992 to establish the Joint Committee on the Organization of Congress. In the House, Representative Lee Hamilton (D-IN) and Representative Willis Gradison (R-OH) introduced H.Con.Res. 192 on July 31, 1991. On the same day in the Senate, Senator David Boren (D-OK) introduced a companion measure, S.Con.Res. 57. Both measures called for establishing a bipartisan joint committee to study and report recommendations on congressional organization and procedure. The House agreed to H.Con.Res. 192 on June 18, 1992. The Senate agreed to an amended version of the concurrent resolution on July 30, 1992, and the House agreed to that amendment on August 6, 1992.

The joint committee, under the co-chairmanship of Representative Hamilton and Senator Boren, with Representative David Dreier (R-CA) and Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM) serving as vice chairmen, conducted hearings



Congressional Record, v. 139, January 5, 1993, p. 49. There was no opposition voiced during debate on the rules change package about the committee name change.

The Joint Committee on the Organization of Congress was created by H.Con.Res. 192 of the 102nd Congress. The final report of the House Members of the Joint Committee discusses the panel's actions on committee system reform, including proposals that were not agreed to. U.S. Congress, Joint Committee on the Organization of Congress, Organization of Congress: Final Report, H.Rept.

over a period of six months on reform proposals. The House and Senate delegations to the joint committee agreed to develop separate proposals for the reorganization of their respective chambers. The House members of the joint committee endorsed, after much controversy, a proposal that left House committee jurisdictions unchanged. Instead, the House panel voted to establish stronger limits on committee assignments (limiting Members to no more than two assignments). Along with this proposal, the House members recommended that the House Rules Committee consider abolishing a standing committee whose membership fell to 50 percent of the level it had in the 103rd Congress.


Representative Dreier thought this so-called "de minimis" reform proposal

an abrogation of the joint committee's responsibility to offer a comprehensive committee reform proposal. Dreier instead offered a plan that would have abolished the Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee, the Post Office and Civil Service Committee, the District of Columbia Committee, and House Administration Committee. The Dreier proposal failed on a tie vote of the House members of the joint committee. The less ambitious committee reform proposal was then reported by the House members of the joint committee, but the House took no further action on the proposal in the 103rd Congress.



Revised Reform Plan, 104th Congress Failure of the House to act on a committee reform plan was one of the issues stressed by Republican candidates in the 1994 House elections. When the Rep ican Party won a majority of House seats for the first time since the 1952 elections, Republican leaders moved quickly to act on major portions of the Dreier committee reform plan. The revised Dreier plan, not quite so comprehensive as the one rejected by the joint committee, nevertheless continued to endorse the abolition of three House committees (Merchant Marine, District of Columbia, and Post Office and Civil Service). A substantial portion of the Merchant Marine Committee's jurisdiction was transferred to Committee on Resources, as the plan renamed the former Natural Resources Committee.

The renamed Committee on Resources acquired significant new authority over fisheries, endangered species legislation, and merchant shipping, all subjects formerly within the jurisdiction of the abolished Merchant Marine Committee. The Resources Committee also acquired jurisdiction in the rules over the TransAlaska pipeline. The committee's former authority over the nuclear energy industry and the environmental aspects of energy policy was transferred to the Energy and Commerce Committee. As a result of the jurisdictional changes and



For a discussion of the committee reform proposals, see U.S. Congress, House, Organization of the Congress: Final Report of the House Members of the Joint Committee on the Organization of Congress, H.Rept. 103-413, vol. 1, (Washington: GPO, 1993). See also, Janet Hook and Beth Donovan, “Reform Panel Mirrors Issues Rather than Mends Them,” Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, vol. 51, November 20, 1993, pp. 3171-3172, and Janet Hook, “Congressional Reform Panel Winds Up Work in Discord,” Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, vol. 51,

House action to impose numeric limits on subcommittees, the Resources Committee also modified the structure and jurisdiction of its subcommittees.

New Jurisdiction from the Merchant Marine Committee Attempts to abolish the Merchant Marine Committee and apportion its jurisdiction among other appropriate committees had begun 20 years before, but had not been successful until 1995. With the abolition of the Merchant Marine Committee, the Resources Committee acquired major portions of the former committee's jurisdiction, particularly marine and merchant marine affairs, coastal zone management, and endangered species legislation. A section-by-section summary of the House reform package was prepared by the House Rules Committee, and it contained the following description of the changes affecting the Resources Committee and other House committees.

This section rewrites clause 1 of rule X to reflect the abolition of three
committees–District of Columbia, Merchant Marine and Fisheries, and Post
Office and Civil Service-the transfer of their jurisdictions, and the renaming
and jurisdictional changes in other standing committees of the House.
Specifically, from the Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries ... the
fisheries, marine, non-national security aspects of the merchant marine,
oceanographic affairs; and endangered species jurisdictions are transferred
to the Committee on Resources (formerly Natural Resources).


At the same time that the Resources Committee acquired some new jurisdiction, it relinquished some authority. Its former special oversight jurisdiction over nuclear energy and its legislative authority over the regulation of the nuclear energy industry was transferred to the Committee on Commerce, as the Committee on Energy and Commerce was renamed in the 104th Congress.

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Resources Committee Jurisdiction in House Rules As a result of these Rules changes, the revised authority ofthe Committee on Resources was itemized in House Rule X, effective with the adoption on January 4, 1995, of H.Res. 6, the resolution adopting House Rules for the 104th Congress. The 1995 Rules changes marked the most recent significant change in the Resources Committee's jurisdiction. Under the recodification of House Rules at the start of the 105th Congress, several stylistic changes were made in the text of the committee's jurisdiction, without substantive change. The committee's jurisdiction as it appears in House Rules for the 107th Congress is as follows:


“Section-by-Section Analysis of House Rules Resolution,” Congressional Record, vol. 141, Jan. 4, 1995, p. 474. The assignment of jurisdiction over the Trans-Alaska pipeline to the Resources Committee caused no controversy, although jurisdiction over other pipelines was shared by the Energy and Commerce and Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. The justification for assigning such responsibility to the Resources Committee was the significant portion of public land over which the Trans-Alaska pipeline runs, as well as the legislative jurisdiction of the committee (1)Fisheries and wildlife, including research, restoration, refuges, and conservation. (2) Forest reserves and national parks created from the public domain. (3) Forfeiture of land grants and alien ownership, including alien ownership of mineral lands. (4) Geological Survey. (5) International fishing agreements. (6) Interstate compacts relating to apportionment of waters for irrigation purposes. (7) Irrigation and reclamation, including water supply for reclamation projects and easements of public lands for irrigation projects; and acquisition of private lands when necessary to complete irrigation projects. (8) Native Americans generally, including the care and allotment of Native American lands and general and special measures relating to claims that are paid out of Native American funds. (9) Insular possessions of the United States generally (except those affecting the revenue and appropriations). (10) Military parks and battlefields, national cemeteries administered by the Secretary of the Interior, parks within the District of Columbia, and the erection of monuments to the memory of individuals. (11) Mineral land laws and claims and entries thereunder. (12) Mineral resources of public lands. (13) Mining interests generally. (14) Mining schools and experimental stations. (15) Marine affairs, including coastal zone management (except for measures relating to oil and other pollution of navigable waters). (16) Oceano graphy. (17) Petroleum conservation on public lands and conservation of the radium supply in the United States. (18) Preservation of prehistoric ruins and objects of interest on the public domain. (19) Public lands generally, including entry, easements, and grazing thereon. (20) Relations of the United States with Native Americans and Native American tribes. (21) Trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline (except ratemaking).

In addition to its legislative jurisdiction under the preceding provisions of this paragraph (and its general oversight function under clause 2(b)(1)), the committee shall have the special oversight

functions provided for in clause 3(e) with respect to all programs
affecting Indians. 35

Revisions in Subcommittee Structure Other Rules changes adopted by the House at the start of the 104th Congress altered the role of subcommittees among all House committees. The former Rule requiring larger committees to establish at least four subcommittees was established when the House was intent on decentralizing the role of full committees and their chairs. By 1995, it was the view of a majority of the House that such decentralization had resulted in too much fragmentation of full committee authority.


Under the Rules change established pursuant to H.Res. 6 of the 104th Congress, most House committees were to be limited to establishing no more than five subcommittees, although a sixth subcommittee could be created if it was an exclusively oversight subcommittee. The Rule granted specific exemptions for the Committee on Appropriations and the Committee on Government Reform (then the Committee on Government Reform and Oversight).

The new subcommittee limit, coming as it did with the addition of substantial new legislative responsibilities for the renamed Committee on Resources, caused the committee to revise its subcommittee structure. 36

The subcommittees of the Natural Resources Committee in the 103rd (19931995) Congress were as follows:

Energy and Mineral Resources
Insular and International Affairs
National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands
Native American Affairs
Oversight and Investigations


"Rules of the House of Representatives, 107th Congress. House Rule X, pp. 6-7. The full jurisdiction statement is included here to show the formal jurisdiction of the Resources Committee in the 107" Congress. There were some stylistic changes made in the recitation of the committee's jurisdiction, pursuant to the House Rules recodification at the start of the 106" Congress (H.Res. 5, January 6, 1999). The primary stylistic change involving the Resources Committee was the change of the word "Indian” to “Native American.” However, the codification was intended to make no substantive change in House Rules or committee jurisdictions.

Changes in House Rules are not the only reason for change in the number and jurisdiction of subcommittees. Often, the preferences and interests of committee and subcommittee leaders contribute to such changes. In the 101" Congress (1989-1991), the last full Congress in which Morris K. Udall (D-AZ) served as chairman, the subcommittees were as follows: Energy and the Environment; Water, Power and Offshore Energy Resources; Mining and Natural Resources; National Parks and Public Lands; Insular and International Affairs; and General Oversight and Investigations. Under the full committee chairmanship of George Miller (D-CA) in the 102"d Congress (1991-1993), the subcommittees were as follows: Energy and the Environment; Water, Power and Offshore Energy Resources; Mining and Natural Resources; National Parks and Public

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