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House action to impose numeric limits on subcommittees, the Resources Committee also modified the structure and jurisdiction of its subcommittees.

New Jurisdiction from the Merchant Marine Committee Attempts to abolish the Merchant Marine Committee and apportion its jurisdiction among other appropriate committees had begun 20 years before, but had not been successful until 1995. With the abolition of the Merchant Marine Committee, the Resources Committee acquired major portions of the former committee's jurisdiction, particularly marine and merchant marine affairs, coastal zone management, and endangered species legislation. A section-by-section summary of the House reform package was prepared by the House Rules Committee, and it contained the following description of the changes affecting the Resources Committee and other House committees.

This section rewrites clause 1 of rule X to reflect the abolition of three
committees-District of Columbia, Merchant Marine and Fisheries, and Post
Office and Civil Service-the transfer of their jurisdictions, and the renaming
and jurisdictional changes in other standing committees of the House.
Specifically, from the Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries ... the
fisheries, marine, non-national security aspects of the merchant marine,
oceanographic affairs; and endangered species jurisdictions are transferred
to the Committee on Resources (formerly Natural Resources).3


At the same time that the Resources Committee acquired some new jurisdiction, it relinquished some authority. Its former special oversight jurisdiction over nuclear energy and its legislative authority over the regulation of the nuclear energy industry was transferred to the Committee on Commerce, as the Committee on Energy and Commerce was renamed in the 104th Congress.

Resources Committee Jurisdiction in House Rules As a result of these Rules changes, the revised authority of the Committee on Resources was itemized in House Rule X, effective with the adoption on January 4, 1995, of H.Res. 6, the resolution adopting House Rules for the 104th Congress. The 1995 Rules changes marked the most recent significant change in the Resources Committee's jurisdiction. Under the recodification of House Rules at the start of the 105th Congress, several stylistic changes were made in the text of the committee's jurisdiction, without substantive change. The committee's jurisdiction as it appears in House Rules for the 107th Congress is as follows:

34 "Section-by-Section Analysis of House Rules Resolution," Congressional Record, vol. 141, Jan. 4, 1995, p. 474. The assignment of jurisdiction over the Trans-Alaska pipeline to the Resources Committee caused no controversy, although jurisdiction over other pipelines was shared by the Energy and Commerce and Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. The justification for assigning such responsibility to the Resources Committee was the significant portion of public land over which the Trans-Alaska pipeline runs, as well as the legislative jurisdiction of the committee

(1)Fisheries and wildlife, including research, restoration, refuges, and conservation.

(2) Forest reserves and national parks created from the public domain.

(3) Forfeiture of land grants and alien ownership, including alien ownership of mineral lands.

(4) Geological Survey.

(5) International fishing agreements.

(6) Interstate compacts relating to apportionment of waters for irrigation purposes.

(7) Irrigation and reclamation, including water supply for reclamation projects and easements of public lands for irrigation projects; and acquisition of private lands when necessary to complete irrigation projects.

(8) Native Americans generally, including the care and allotment of Native American lands and general and special measures relating to claims that are paid out of Native American funds.

(9) Insular possessions of the United States generally (except those affecting the revenue and appropriations).

(10) Military parks and battlefields, national cemeteries administered by the Secretary of the Interior, parks within the District of Columbia, and the erection of monuments to the memory of individuals.

(11) Mineral land laws and claims and entries thereunder. (12) Mineral resources of public lands.

(13) Mining interests generally.

(14) Mining schools and experimental stations.

(15) Marine affairs, including coastal zone management (except for
measures relating to oil and other pollution of navigable waters).
(16) Oceanography.

(17) Petroleum conservation on public lands and conservation of the
radium supply in the United States.

(18) Preservation of prehistoric ruins and objects of interest on the public domain.

(19) Public lands generally, including entry, easements, and grazing thereon.

(20) Relations of the United States with Native Americans and Native American tribes.

(21) Trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline (except ratemaking).

In addition to its legislative jurisdiction under the preceding provisions of this paragraph (and its general oversight function under clause 2(b)(1)), the committee shall have the special oversight

functions provided for in clause 3(e) with respect to all programs
affecting Indians.3

Revisions in Subcommittee Structure Other Rules changes adopted by the House at the start of the 104th Congress altered the role of subcommittees among all House committees. The former Rule requiring larger committees to establish at least four subcommittees was established when the House was intent on decentralizing the role of full committees and their chairs. By 1995, it was the view of a majority of the House that such decentralization had resulted in too much fragmentation of full committee authority.

Under the Rules change established pursuant to H.Res. 6 of the 104th Congress, most House committees were to be limited to establishing no more than five subcommittees, although a sixth subcommittee could be created if it was an exclusively oversight subcommittee. The Rule granted specific exemptions for the Committee on Appropriations and the Committee on Government Reform (then the Committee on Government Reform and Oversight). The new subcommittee limit, coming as it did with the addition of substantial new legislative responsibilities for the renamed Committee on Resources, caused the committee to revise its subcommittee structure.3


The subcommittees of the Natural Resources Committee in the 103rd (19931995) Congress were as follows:

Energy and Mineral Resources

Insular and International Affairs

National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands
Native American Affairs

Oversight and Investigations

"Rules of the House of Representatives, 107th Congress. House Rule X, pp. 6-7. The full jurisdiction statement is included here to show the formal jurisdiction of the Resources Committee in the 107th Congress. There were some stylistic changes made in the recitation of the committee's jurisdiction, pursuant to the House Rules recodification at the start of the 106th Congress (H.Res. 5, January 6, 1999). The primary stylistic change involving the Resources Committee was the change of the word "Indian" to "Native American." However, the codification was intended to make no substantive change in House Rules or committee jurisdictions.


Changes in House Rules are not the only reason for change in the number and jurisdiction of subcommittees. Often, the preferences and interests of committee and subcommittee leaders contribute to such changes. In the 101" Congress (1989-1991), the last full Congress in which Morris K. Udall (D-AZ) served as chairman, the subcommittees were as follows: Energy and the Environment; Water, Power and Offshore Energy Resources; Mining and Natural Resources; National Parks and Public Lands; Insular and International Affairs; and General Oversight and Investigations. Under the full committee chairmanship of George Miller (D-CA) in the 102nd Congress (1991-1993), the subcommittees were as follows: Energy and the Environment; Water, Power and Offshore Energy Resources; Mining and Natural Resources; National Parks and Public

Two years later (104th Congress, 1995-1997), the renamed Committee on Resources established the following subcommittees, reflecting major additions to its legislative jurisdiction:

Energy and Mineral Resources
Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans
National Parks, Forests, and Lands
Native American and Insular Affairs

Water and Power Resources

In the following, 105th Congress (1997-99), the Resources Committee shifted some responsibilities among its subcommittees and emphasized other policy areas by renaming some of its subcommittees. The revised subcommittees were as follows:

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Under this new division of responsibility, forestry issues became the area of primary responsibility for a new subcommittee, splitting this subject off from the authority of the subcommittee on public lands, which had previously had the highest workload among the Resources Committee's subcommittees. The subjects formerly handled by the Subcommittee on Native American and Insular Affairs were henceforth to be considered only at the full committee level.

This subcommittee structure was unchanged in the 106th Congress, and only a minor change was adopted by the Resources Committee at the beginning of the 107th Congress in 2001. At that time, the parks sub committee was formally renamed the Subcommittee on National Parks, Recreation, and Public Lands, and language was added to its jurisdiction in committee rules, reflecting the growing concern about the appropriate uses of national parks and public lands for recreational purposes. The subcommittee names are listed below. The portion of the Resources Committee's rules assigning specific legislative responsibilities to each subcommittee and itemizing the subjects that would be considered only at the full committee level appear in Appendix 5.

Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources

Subcommittee on Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife and Oceans

Subcommittee on National Parks, Recreation and Public Lands

Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health

Subcommittee on Water and Power


Committees are protective of the jurisdictions they are granted in the Rules and by precedent. The history of the House committee system is dominated by issues relating to the establishment, evolution, transfer, dispersal, and consolidation of policy jurisdiction among a shifting number of committees. When committee jurisdictions are formally altered in the Rules of the House, the debate on the House floor about such proposals, the crafting of "memoranda of understanding" among affected committees, and legislative reports issued by committees proposing the jurisdictional realignments are all of great importance in clarifying which committees will be responsible for which subjects in the future.

Once the Rules are formally changed, however, committees take steps to preserve their claims to jurisdiction over specific subjects. Despite attempts by the House in the 104th Congress to refine the jurisdictions of House committees, there are many areas in which jurisdictional overlap still exists or in which the policy responsibilities of one committee have inherent impact on the policy areas claimed by another. In order to minimize controversy, committee leaders, including leaders of the Resources Committee, have long consulted one another about provisions in a bill recommended by one committee that may affect the jurisdictional claims of another committee. Through letters, committee leaders may seek a ruling from the Speaker to sequentially refer a bill to another committee in response to a valid jurisdictional claim. Such referral request letters became common after 1974 when the House first authorized the referral of bills to more than one committee.

Inter-committee letters are also informal ways for committees to negotiate over the content of legislation, short of one panel officially requesting a bill referral. For example, one committee may note its opposition (on policy grounds or on the grounds of a jurisdiction violation) to the inclusion of a specific provision in a bill under consideration by another committee. The latter committee may act to remove the provision in dispute, or alternately, may suggest ways other than through a sequential referral by which the first committee can influence future discussions. Such alternatives may include efforts to guarantee the right of the first committee to offer such floor amendments as it thinks necessary, or pledges by the second committee to assure representation of the first committee on any conference delegation. These informal communications patterns are not new, but in recent years they have increasingly become a form of public discussion among committees. Many House committees, including the Committee on Resources, have begun to submit copies of these letters for printing in the Congressional Record when the measures in question are considered by the House. Some recent examples of such correspondence between the House Resources Committee and other House committees during the 107th Congress are reprinted in Appendix 6.

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