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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.


For nearly two centuries, the Committee on Resources and its predecessor committees have played a major role in the management of the public resources of the United States. As the issues connected with the use, development, and protection of public lands expanded, the House created new committees. The diverse subjects of these committees were consolidated in 1946 under a reorganized Public Lands Committee.

Over the past half century, the work of the Public Lands Committee, the Interior Committee, and now the Resources Committee has evolved. The committee's modern role in environmental and conservation policy, in the management and preservation of land and water resources, in managing and preserving the national park system, and in setting policy for territorial possessions of the United States, gives it responsibility for a set of complex and controversial issues that have both major domestic and international implications.


The Committee on Resources name was adopted at the beginning of the 104th Congress. The committee's name had been changed to Committee on Natural Resources in the 103rd Congress. Before that, the committee had, since 1951, been called the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs. Before 1951, the committee was known as the Committee on Public Lands. The modern Public Lands Committee, created by the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946, combined a number of long-extant House standing committees into a committee with a more broadly comprehensive jurisdiction. These predecessor committees and the years of their establishment are listed below.

Committee on Public Lands (1805)

Committee on Private Land Claims (1816)

Committee on Indian Affairs (1821)

Committee on Territories (1825)

Committee on Mines and Mining (1865)

Committee on Irrigation of Arid Lands (1893), later renamed
Committee on Irrigation and Reclamation (1924)

Committee on Insular Affairs (1899)

Committee on Public Lands (1946) - this Committee absorbed all the committees listed above under the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946.

Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs (1951) - renamed, previously the
Committee on Public Lands.

Committee on Natural Resources (1993)

renamed, previously the

Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs.

Committee on Resources (1995) - new name - previously the Committee on Natural Resources; the Committee also absorbed most of the jurisdiction of the Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries (1887), which was abolished by the 104th Congress.



(a) Subcommittees. --There shall be five standing Subcommittees of the Committee, with the following jurisdiction and responsibilities:

Subcommittee on National Parks, Recreation and Public Lands
(1) Measures and matters related to the National Park System and its units,
including Federal reserve water rights.

(2) The National Wilderness Preservation System, except for wilderness
created from forest reserves from the public domain.

(3) Wild and Scenic Rivers Systems, National Trails System, national heritage areas and other national units established for protection, conservation, preservation or recreational development administered by the Secretary of the Interior, other than coastal barriers.

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

(5) Federal outdoor recreation plans, programs and administration including the Land and Water Conservation Fund, except those in public forests.

(6) Plans and programs concerning non-Federal outdoor recreation and land use, including related plans and programs authorized by the Land and Water Conservation

Fund Act of 1965 and the Outdoor Recreation Act of 1963, except those in public forests.

(7) Preservation of prehistoric ruins and objects of interest on the public
domain and other historic preservation programs and activities, including
national monuments, historic sites and programs for international
cooperation in the field of historic preservation.

(8) Matters concerning the following agencies and programs: Urban Parks
and Recreation Recovery Program, Historic American Buildings, Survey,
Historic American Engineering Record, and U.S. Holocaust Memorial.
(9) Public lands generally, including measures or matters relating to entry,
easements, withdrawals, grazing and Federal reserved water rights.
(10) Forfeiture of land grants and alien ownership, including alien
ownership of mineral lands.

(11) Cooperative efforts to encourage, enhance and improve international
programs for the protection of the environment and the conservation of


The full text of the Resources Committee's rules for the 107th Congress can be found at

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