Kamala D. Harris

United States Senator for California

Senator Harris Joins Colleagues to Introduce Legislation to Codify Membership on the National Security Council

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Addresses issues raised by President Trump's move to diminish roles of intel, military experts

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Kamala D. Harris (D-CA), Mark Warner (D-VA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) today introduced legislation that will clarify the permanent membership of the National Security Council (NSC) to better ensure that decisions affecting the national security of the nation are not clouded by political calculations.

The legislation addresses significant concerns following President Trump's reorganization of the NSC, which diminished the permanent roles of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Director of National Intelligence and extended NSC membership to a top campaign and political advisor.

“President Trump’s decision to elevate a political operative to a permanent member of the National Security Council (NSC) and demote intelligence and military experts demonstrates his misguided approach to national security,” said Senator Harris, a member of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. “The NSC restructuring is a fundamentally flawed political ploy that guarantees that President Trump’s top political strategist will participate in every decision-making meeting on national security issues, including those pertaining to military operations, and does not provide the same guarantee to the military and intelligence community. This is an incredibly dangerous precedent, and Congress must take action to address it in order to defend the best interests of the American people, our troops, and our interests overseas.”

On Saturday, President Trump issued National Security Presidential Memorandum (NSPM) 2, which outlined how he would organize and use his National Security Council. In the memorandum, he elevated a senior political advisor to be a core member of the influential Principals Committee, while also removing the Director of National Intelligence and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as permanent members of the Principals Committee unless issues pertaining to their responsibilities or expertise are to be discussed.

The Strengthening Oversight of National Security Act will amend the National Security Act of 1947 to clarify membership at the senior advisory level of the NSC, ensuring that national security experts are the ones crafting national security policy. It does so by setting out in law limits to membership.

  • The bill amends the National Security Act to specify the composition of the National Security Council. In addition to the current statutorily designated NSC members, the bill adds the Director of National Intelligence and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
  • The bill further establishes that the composition of the cabinet-level interagency forum for policy consideration and decision making to support the NSC will reflect the membership of the NSC with flexibility to add other Senate-confirmed members. Any exceptions must be one-time actions and notified to Congress within 24 hours.
  • The bill requires the Consent of the Congress to add any non-Senate confirmed official except the National Security Advisor and Deputies, Homeland Security Advisor and Deputies, Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff, Counsel, Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, and the Assistant to the Vice President for National Security. The composition limitation applies to members and attendees.  

A copy of the bill text is available HERE

In addition to the Select Committee on Intelligence, Harris serves as a member of the Committees on Budget, Homeland Security and Environment & Public Works. 

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