House Approves Walorski Amendment to Restore Transparency to National Security Council

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Would Bring NSC Back Under FOIA to Increase Scrutiny, Accountability; Past Three Secretaries of Defense Concerned by Micromanagement

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (IN-02) today applauded House’s unanimous approval of her amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to restore transparency and accountability to the National Security Council (NSC) by requiring it to comply with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

Congresswoman Walorski, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, spoke on the House Floor in support of her amendment, which was adopted by voice vote. Video of her remarks is available here.

“The National Security Council has moved far beyond its original advisory role to one where NSC staffers to make critical operational decisions,” Walorski said. “My amendment simply restores accountability to this operational organization by requiring the NSC to participate in the Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, upon confirmation of the National Security Advisor by the Senate.”

Walorski’s amendment is based on legislation she introduced in April, H.R. 4922, the Transparency in National Security Act. The amendment builds on reforms included in an amendment offered by Chairman Mac Thornberry (TX-13) to require Senate confirmation for the National Security Advisor if the NSC staff grows beyond 100 members. Walorski’s amendment would bring NSC back under FOIA once a National Security Advisor is confirmed.

NSC was created in 1947 as an advisory body to the president on issues of national security. NSC responded to FOIA requests under Presidents Ford, Carter, Reagan, and George H.W. Bush until 1996, when a federal court ruled in Armstrong v. Executive Office of the President that NSC was not subject to FOIA.

The size and scope of NSC’s mission have expanded since its creation. Under President Obama, its headcount has doubled from 200 to nearly 400. President Obama’s three former Secretaries of Defense have expressed concerns that the NSC’s unelected, unconfirmed staffers are micromanaging the military, making operational decisions, and undermining commanders in the field and leaders in the Pentagon.

Walorski represents the 2nd Congressional District of Indiana, serving as a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, House Armed Services Committee and House Committee on Agriculture.

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