WASHINGTON -- Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, today filed a proposal to reform the National Security Council (NSC). In recent years, the NSC has been repeatedly criticized for micromanagement of America’s national security institutions. Many experts complain that the NSC has evolved from an advisory and coordinating body to an operational bureaucracy with no oversight or accountability.
Chairman Thornberry’s amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) would cap the size of the NSC at 100 people, a size adequate to coordinate policy and advise the President. Under the amendment, a President would also have the option to have a larger, more operational NSC with more than 100 staff, in which case the National Security Advisor would become subject to confirmation by the Senate. Estimates indicate that the NSC currently has 400 staff.
In filing the amendment, Thornberry said:
“All of President Obama’s former Defense Secretaries have complained about micromanagement by the NSC. I have personally heard from troops on the frontlines who have received intimidating calls from junior White House staffers. The current NSC has grown so large that the White House cannot even give us a clear estimate of how many people actually work for it. Now we hear reports of NSC staffers running misinformation campaigns targeted at Congress and the press.
“I believe the traditional role filled by the NSC -- of coordinating policy and offering advice to the President -- is essential and should continue. History proves that 100 people are enough to get that job done. However, if the President wants an NSC modeled after the current one -- an NSC that makes operational decisions, builds misinformation campaigns, and absorbs most national security functions within the White House -- it will come with accountability and oversight from Congress.”