WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA) and Ranking Member Mac Thornberry (R-TX) today issued the following statements in response to a memo from Acting Secretary of Defense Pat Shanahan, which outlines a new process regarding Congressional requests for access to operational plans and orders.
“If implemented, the Department’s new policy guidance would dramatically limit Congress’ ability to execute our constitutional prerogative,” said Chairman Smith and Ranking Member Thornberry. “Congress oversees the Department of Defense; but with this new policy, the Department is overstepping its authority by presuming to determine what warrants legislative oversight. Furthermore, by applying this policy to all members of Congress, regardless of committee assignment, the Department misunderstands the role and prerogatives of its committees of jurisdiction.”
“In addition, this policy also accuses Congress of being a security risk for classified information, which is both inexcusable and inaccurate. The Department is not in a position to evaluate Defense committees’ worthiness to receive classified information, nor characterize our ability to appropriately protect it, Smith and Thornberry continued. “We intend to address this matter in the National Defense Authorization act.”