Democratic Senators Look to Codify NSC Membership

Six US Senators introduced legislation on Feb. 2 aimed at cementing the permanent membership of the National Security Council and clarifying that all members of the NSC must hold positions requiring the advice and consent of the Senate. The bill, which would amend the 1947 National Security Act, comes in response to President Donald Trump’s recent reorganization of the NSC. Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) introduced the new legislation in order to “better ensure that decisions affecting the national security of the nation are not clouded by political calculations,” according to a statement released by Warner’s office. The bill would require the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Director of National Intelligence, an office that only dates back to 2005, be included on the NSC. The role of the CJCS has changed from President to President—Trump’s reorg includes the Chairman on an invite-only basis. It also would also explicitly limit permanent membership on the NSC to persons in positions requiring Senate confirmation. Any exceptions to this rule would “only be permitted for a one-time decision-making action,” and would require the President to notify Congress within 24 hours. “President Trump’s reorganization of the NSC is deeply troubling, and it reflects a misguided desire to place political considerations above the valued and sober advice of any President’s most experienced military and intelligence advisors,” said Warner, who is vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, in a statement.