Mr. MOAKLEY. Mr. Speaker, by direction of the Committee on Rules, I call up House Resolution 268 to amend the Rules of the House of Representatives to clarify the right of the Speaker to attend any meeting and to have access to any information in the possession of the permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and ask for its immediate consideration.
The Clerk read the resolution, as follows:
Resolved, That clause 7(c) of rule XLVIII of the rules of the House of Representatives is amended--
(a) in subparagraph (1) by striking out `subparagraph (2)' and inserting in lieu thereof `subparagraphs (2) and (3)';
(b) in the second sentence of subparagraph (2) by inserting `(other than to the Speaker)' after `available'; and
(c) by inserting at the end thereof the following new subparagraph:
`(3) The select committee shall permit the Speaker to attend any meeting of the committee and to have access to any information in the possession of the committee.'.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman from Massachusetts [Mr. Moakley] is recognized for 1 hour.
Mr. MOAKLEY. Mr. Speaker, for purposes of debate only, I yield the customary 30 minutes to the gentleman from New York [Mr. Solomon], and pending that I yield myself such time as I may consume.
(Mr. MOAKLEY asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. MOAKLEY. Mr. Speaker, I would like to advise the Chair that all time yielded, during debate on the pending resolution, is yielded for the purposes of debate only.
Mr. Speaker, House Resolution 268 is a privileged report from the Rules Committee that clarifies the right of the Speaker of the House of Representatives to attend any meeting and to have access to any information in the possession of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
Currently under House rule 48, only two designated leadership officials--the majority leader and the minority leader--serve as ex officio members of the Select Committee on Intelligence.
However, as members are aware, the Speaker has always had access by custom and practice of the House to information within the purview of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence ever since that committee was created: the Speaker appoints all of the members of the select committee.
In addition, as a member of the `Gang of 8' who consult with the President on the most secret and sensitive intelligence matters, the Speaker has access to information denied to most members of both House and Senate Intelligence Committees.
Mr. Speaker, an interim rule was adopted by the Intelligence Committee in the 101st Congress to ensure the Speaker's right of access to Intelligence Committee meetings and records. It was offered at the suggestion of the minority of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and the majority concurred in their recommendation.
Mr. Speaker, House Resolution 268, is a resolution that will simplify the interpretation of House Rule 48 and correct the anomaly in current House rules by allowing the Speaker to attend any committee meeting and review any documents in its possession.
Mr. SOLOMON. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, as my colleague from Massachusetts has indicated, this is a privileged resolution which will enable the Speaker to have routine access to the proceedings and information of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. I believe most members will be as surprised as I was to learn that the Speaker does not, at present, have this opportunity.
This anomaly is House Rule 48 is all the more surprising when we consider the Speaker's unique constitutional position which places him second in the line of succession to the President. Therefore, I support the passage of House Resolution 268. This is a necessary and proper correction in House rules.
The point needs to be made, however, that this change should have been made before the arrangement was worked out whereby a member of the Speaker's staff was given blanket access to all of the Intelligence Committee's information, proceeding with that particular arrangement first, before rule 48 was amended, was not, in my view, a proper thing to do. And even with the change in the rules that we will make today, I would hope that this arrangement would be reexamined.
It is surprising to me that the former professional staff member on the Intelligence Committee who now serves on the Speaker's staff has been placed back on the Intelligence Committee payroll this time at a token salary and with the job designation of clerk. This does not make sense to me, and I suspect it suggests to other members as well that something a little unusual is going on here.
When someone starts out as general counsel and is now designated as a clerk, that person appears to be climbing down the ladder of success--unless some other factor unbeknownst to most of us is also involved. In any event, I do support the resolution before us.
But I also believe, Mr. Speaker, that the time has come to take a good look at what this resolution and all of the other incremental changes affecting the Intelligence Committee add up to. This resolution is the fourth such change this year alone. And the cumulative affects since 1977 of various changes made in the committee's structure and operations needs to be the subject of a comprehensive review.
I had hoped that the presentation of this resolution might have provided such an opportunity. However, the skids had been greased in favor of this resolution long before the Rules Committee even met to discuss it.
As a way of providing further discussion--and, indeed, examination--of what needs to be done, the ranking Republican on the Intelligence Committee, Mr. Hyde, will be making an effort later today to defeat the previous question on the resolution. I will support his motion, and I urge all members to support it. At the very least, defeating the previous question will afford the House an occasion to take a closer look at how the Intelligence Committee operates.
If any member believes that all of the incremental tinkering with the committee, that has taken place over the past 12 years has served to stem the flow of damaging leaks, that members has not been heard from. This very week, for example, a new book has arrived in the bookstores and purports to contain the details of a very serious leak of highly sensitive intelligence data concerning U.S. policy in Central America.
I have no way of knowing if what this book says is true. And even if I did know, I would not make any statement to confirm or deny it one way or the other. But all of us have to be appalled at cases such as this when Members of Congress are cited by name in the public media as sources of leaked information.
Now, I know that the statement will be made by our friends on the other side of the aisle that hearings need to be held before we rush into changes affecting the Intelligence Committee. My point is: Those changes are being made incrementally, by stealth so to speak. Let's see what those changes add up to.
Mr. Hyde has identified several areas that need to be examined and there are probably any number of others. But let's at least get started. And as far as hearings are concerned, House Resolution 268 was introduced on October 18. This kind of rapid movement to the floor suggests that the means are there to consider ideas that are politically advantageous to the majority.
Other bills and resolutions affecting the Intelligence Committee have been languishing in the Rules Committee for many months, in some cases years. So let's not use the need for hearings as an excuse.
I will not steal any more of Mr. Hyde's thunder, and I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. Speaker, I yield 5 minutes to the distinguished gentleman from Illinois [Mr. Hyde], the ranking Republican of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
(Mr. HYDE asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. HYDE. Mr. Speaker, I thoroughly concur in this resolution. I want to make it as clear as I can, but I do think it is an anomaly that the Speaker under our rules is not in the loop. The majority leader is, but not the Speaker, and I think it is unusual, to say the least, and inefficient that the Speaker not understand what is going on in the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence because he is certainly the head of the House and is the Speaker.
Now, as a matter of fact, the Speaker has been told and informed what has transpired in our committee from time to time. The only thing that bothers me is that our rules have not permitted that process. Wise and sensible and efficient as it is, it has been outside the rules.
Now, rules are about all there is around here to protect the minority. We are told to observe the rules quite often when it suits people, so it just seems to me we ought to have enough respect for the rules to change them, to accommodate what we all agree needs accommodation, namely, have the Speaker privy to what goes on in our committee.
It also seems to me, rather than to go through the convoluted method that we are, we ought to change the rules to make the Speaker privy ex-officio along with the majority leader, and permit him to designate someone on his staff to provide him with this information, instead of appointing someone on his staff to a dual staff position as a clerk, when clearly his duties will not be those of a clerk. I do not know why we have to do this the hard way, but ours is not to reason why, and so be it.
I, on the other hand, look upon this as an opportunity to bring to the attention of the House at 6 o'clock in the evening, again unfortunate, but still nonetheless important, a proposal that I have that members of the Intelligence Committee at least take a secrecy oath. We deal with the most sensitive intelligence information in our Government.
Now, an oath is very important. Benjamin Franklin took an oath when he was chairman of the Committee of Secret Correspondence. You take an oath when you are sworn in to this body. You take an oath when you are going to be a witness in court. You take an oath when you are going to serve as a juror. You take an oath when you are married. All solemn occasions, important occasions, require, it seems to me, or at least it is appropriate that they be solemnized by an oath.
We who sit on the Intelligence Committee ought to be hypersensitive to the leaks that go on day after day of sensitive classified information. I do not for a second say that only the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence leaks. I would not say our committee leaks at all, but I would say we can do something about one body that has access to this information, Members and staff, 12 Democrats, 7 Republicans and staff, by taking an oath of secrecy. Just elevates certainly the importance of what we are doing. It raises our consciousness, I was going to say our conscience, too, and that would not hurt, but it impresses on us really the importance of the material we are handling and how we cannot talk about it outside the committee. That needs repetition. That needs emphasis, and all I am asking is that we recognize members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence are different from the average Member. We have access on a daily basis to some of the most sensitive secrets in the Government. Acknowledge that access by requiring those of us on the committee to at least take the secrecy oath.
Now, if I am successful in defeating the previous question, I will offer such an amendment. I have two other amendments that interest me. One, of course, is for security clearance for every member of the committee. The staff is cleared for security. The members of the executive branch are cleared. I know Members who feel they were elected and are above that. I do not feel that way. I do not mind having a security clearance if one is required, and I would like to require it, because I think the importance of what we are dealing with is critical.
The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. McCloskey). The time of the gentleman from Illinois has expired.
Mr. SOLOMON. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 additional minutes to the gentleman from Illinois.
Mr. HYDE. Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend for yielding me this additional time.
So what I am asking this body to do, and it is the only way we can do it, is to defeat the previous question, at which point I will offer an amendment requiring members of the Select Committee on Intelligence of the House to take a secrecy oath. All that will do will be to elevate in the minds of people and ourselves the importance, the sensitivity of the secrets that we are daily given and privy to.
Again, I have no objection, I encourage the amendment of the gentleman to the rules to include the Speaker in the loop and to include the Speaker's designee, Mr. O'Neal. I have no problem with that. I want the rules respected, and most importantly, I want us to become conscious of the leaks that go on and perhaps we can set an example, be a paradigm for the Executive, for the other body, that we take our responsiblity seriously.
Leaks are dangerous. They are dangerous to our national security and we ought to set an example where we can.
So I hope you will vote to defeat the previous question so that I may offer the amendment.
Mr. SOLOMON. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the distinguished gentleman from Florida [Mr. Young], a former longstanding member of the Intelligence Committee.
Mr. YOUNG of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this resolution.
Frankly, as a former member of the Intelligence Committee, I was quite surprised when I learned the Speaker did not have that direct access, and certainly he should; but I think while we are correcting the rules and while we are doing something about bringing us into compliance with the rules, now is a good time to consider some of the other problems that we have in maintaining the secrecy of our national security secrets.
The gentleman from Illinois [Mr. Hyde] has so eloquently made the point that members of the Intelligence Committee have access to some of the most sensitive national security secrets that our Government has. What he did not point out quite as emphatically is that also members of the staff of that committee have the same type of access.
Mr. Speaker, this is a staggering responsibility. You only have to sit through several hearings or meetings of that committee to realize just how serious this responsibility is.
I think from time to time there have been those who felt that maybe it was not quite as serious and maybe a minor leak did not make any difference. Well, a leak of classified material, whether major or minor or somewhere in-between, is a threat to the Nation's security.
Here is a Wall Street Journal article of just a few days ago talking about a big covert action program that may or may not be in existence. Those on the Intelligence Committee know whether or not this story is true. Those on the Defense Subcommittee that I work on know whether this is true.
The fact is, if it is, it is classified and secret and it should not be released.
I think this is an ideal time while we are considering this resolution to defeat the previous question and to allow amendments to be offered that will in fact create more security for those who have access to the information available through the Intelligence Committee.
I recall not too many years ago before a secret session of this House pointing out to our colleagues, Mr. Speaker, specific cases of leaks from that Intelligence Committee, leaks that I considered to be extremely important. That has got to stop. We cannot have that. A minor leak is almost as bad as a major leak. It is very costly to our national
security effort. I think everybody agrees with that, and this is a great time to solve the problem, to put into effect some rules and regulations that we will abide by, that we will go by to make sure that those who serve in those important capacities understand their obligation, understand the seriousness of the responsibility with which they have been entrusted.
Again, the members of that committee and the members of the staff of that committee have access basically to the same intelligence information that the President of the United States reviews on a daily basis. Again I say, that is a staggering responsibility, and members and staff with that kind of access have to understand that.
I believe we can amend this resolution to make it a powerful tool in preserving the national security secrets of our Nation.
Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me this time. It is an extremely important subject.
Mr. SOLOMON. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Louisiana [Mr. Livingston], another member of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
(Mr. LIVINGSTON asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. LIVINGSTON. Mr. Speaker, I hope the Members will support the gentleman from Illinois [Mr. Hyde] and vote no on the previous question.
The Hyde amendment supports the bill and resolution in toto. They do not disagree with them at all, but they address an extraordinary important subject. There are leaks in this Congress. Our Members, our staff have obtained classified information. Over the years we can read about those divulgences, those instances in which classified secret ultra-sensitive information has been divulged to the press. It is an unjustice to the entire Nation when that happens.
All the gentleman from Illinois [Mr. Hyde] does is require in his resolutions that all members and staff of the Intelligence Committee should take a simple oath of secrecy, to undergo security clearances before they gain access to those secrets. The oath is very simple. It says, `I do solemnly swear or affirm that I will not directly or indirectly disclose to any unauthorized person any classified information received in the course of my duties on the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence except with the formal approval of the committee or the House.' It cannot get any more simple than that. It is very basic. It is very fundamental. It underscores to all of the Intelligence Committee members and staff the importance of not disclosing information to unauthorized persons. We should not even have a debate over this. It just seems to me to be so fundamental.
We require at times witnesses who come before us to take an oath of secrecy under penalties of perjury and that sort of thing. It just seems that the people who are receiving that very same information ought to be required to take that simple oath.
I support the Hyde motion. I hope that all of the Members will again vote against the previous question. I would like to see the security clearances imposed, and I urge a no vote on the previous question.
Mr. SOLOMON. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from Texas [Mr. Combest], a member of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
(Mr. COMBEST asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. COMBEST. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of this resolution and feel that not only is it proper that the Speaker of the House have information privy to the Committee on Intelligence but that it should have happened a long time ago.
I also rise in strong support of the efforts of the gentleman from Illinois to defeat the previous question so that we can get at what I think are some very, very fundamental issues about the further activities of the House committee, the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Under the arrangement which has been reached and providing the opportunity for the Speaker to have information in the Intelligence Committee is unprecedented in the history of the House Intelligence Committee in that there is a staff member who is serving dual roles, one as a paid staff member by the Committee on Intelligence, one as a paid member of the Speaker's permanent staff.
The question that I would address to the gentleman from California, if he would respond, my concerns would be that we could also ensure, since we are taking an unprecedented situation here, that we could ensure to the rights of the minority leader the same privileges which have been afforded to the Speaker if the minority leader so wished to exercise that option and have a similar type of staff member available to him or her as the case may be in the future on the committee staff.
Mr. BEILENSON. Mr. Speaker, will the gentleman yield?
Mr. COMBEST. I am happy to yield to the gentleman from California.
Mr. BEILENSON. Mr. Speaker, the answer of this gentleman is certainly yes. As far as this gentleman understands, it is totally within the competence of our committee to agree to those kinds of staffing arrangements and, yes, of course, anything that the distinguished minority leader would like in the way of staffing would be, so far as this gentleman is concerned, agreed to by us.
Mr. COMBEST. Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the gentleman's response.
Once again, I would just state that I think that it is very important that the previous question be defeated so that we can discuss very, very significant issues here. I do not know how one can oppose the idea of requiring, at a minimum, and I would much prefer that Members of the House who are members of the Select Committee on Intelligence have to go through security clearances, but at the least should take an oath requiring that they would not divulge any of the information, and I feel that there should be severe penalties for Members of Congress to be paid for divulging classified information.
Mr. SOLOMON. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from Florida [Mr. Goss], a member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and a very distinguished member of that committee, I might add.
(Mr. GOSS asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. GOSS. Mr. Speaker, I want to rise in support of Mr. Hyde's proposals and H.R. 268 to share with you my own special perspectives. I believe I am unique among Members of this House as the only former CIA career intelligence officer. I served more than 10 years as an operations officer in the clandestine services--meeting and working discreetly with men and women in foreign areas who support the same democratic principals that have made our country great.
I realize that much of this debate on intelligence leaks has historically focused on the specific dangers of releasing classified information--and how such disclosure hurts a particular project or individual who has endangered himself to provide sensitive information to the U.S. Government.
Yet I believe each and every one of us should consider the broader residual damage which infects our intelligence aparatus when a leak appears on the front pages of our newspapers. When sensitive information hits the news--the impact is felt immediately--worldwide.
Cooperative sources overseas become demoralized, reluctant and fearful. That hurts our intelligence agencies abilities to collect and analyse up-to-dade information on topics vital to our national defense. Sources dry up everywhere. Not even our best friends can stick with us if their well being is unnecessarily at risk because of unwitting--or worse yet--witting release of sensitive material to the media.
More troubling--news of intelligence leaks makes it that much harder to develop new contacts. People who had considered meeting confidentially with U.S. Government officials fear their information could be tomorrows' compromising news--and they remain mute.
Sadly some of the strongest criticism of the Panama situation focused on our Government's lack of information. The critics charged that we didn't have enough contacts to really know what was happening. I have to wonder whether potentially cooperative sources remained silent out of fear of leaks.
Those of us who have the privilege of receiving classified information must always remember that leaks have a profound and enduring impact on this Government's ability to collect sensitive information. For this reason I fully endorse Mr. Hydes's efforts to establish reasonable guidelines regarding handling of and access to classified materials.
Mr. Speaker, I would add that I had the privilege of reviewing material prior to some previous legislative action, and in all of my years of being involved in the intelligence business, I have seen no place where compartmentalization is as broken down as it is in the information that is made available to our Intelligence Committee. That is a good thing, but it means extra safeguards. That is an excellent thing. But those extra safeguards have to be in place, and for that reason I think the gentleman from Illinois [Mr. Hyde] is on the right track.
Mr. MOAKLEY. Mr. Speaker, I yield 5 minutes to the gentleman from California [Mr. Beilenson], the chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
Mr. BEILENSON. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me this time.
Mr. Speaker, for Members who may not be listening carefully, I do want to reiterate the point that some of our friends across the aisle have themselves made, and that is that the gentleman from Illinois [Mr. Hyde], the gentleman from New York [Mr. Solomon], and the others do support the resolution that is before us.
Let me quote just for a moment if I may from the additional views of the Republican members of the Committee on Rules:
House Resolution 268 is aimed at correcting an obscure anomaly in House Rule XLVIII (48), which concerns the organization and activities of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence [HPSCI]. As presently written, rule 48 denies routine access by the Speaker to HPSCI's proceedings and information. * * *
This anomaly in Rule 48 appears to be a sin of omission rather than commission. As presently written, Rule 48 provides for two designated leadership officials--the Majority Leader and the Minority Leader--to be ex officio members of HPSCI. No mention is made of the Speaker. We find this anomaly to be very surprising, particularly in view of the Speaker's unique Constitutional position which places him second in the line of succession to the Presidency.
Accordingly, we support the prompt passage of H. Res. 268. We believe the Speaker should have immediate access to any and all proceedings and information at HPSCI.
We appreciate the gentleman's and the lady's, the gentlewoman from Illinois [Mrs. Martin], feelings about this, but I did want to bring it to the attention of all of the Members in case, as I said, they had not been listening all that carefully.
The minority people on the Committee on Rules, however, went
on to say, and I quote again just very briefly:
We also believe the time has come to take a careful look at the way in which HPSCI is structured.* * *
Fair enough. Nothing is perfect. Our committee is certainly not perfect, and certainly can be made better. In fact, the two previous chairmen of that committee who still serve in the House, the gentleman from Ohio [Mr. Stokes] and the gentleman from Indiana [Mr. Hamilton] and I have some proposals of our own that we feel, we ourselves feel, will improve the workings of that committee. Other Members have similar proposals. The gentleman from Minnesota [Mr. Oberstar] has submitted a resolution to change some of the rules regarding length of service in terms of service on the committee.
Other Members have submitted various other proposals, perhaps a dozen of which are currently resting before the Committee on Rules to be heard. The gentleman from Illinois [Mr. Hyde] himself, as many Members probably know, has at least one major proposal other than the ones the gentleman spoke of earlier today, the three spoken of earlier today, mainly one to form a single Joint Intelligence Oversight Committee with the Senate to take the place of the two separate Oversight Committees we now have. That is pending too before the Committee on Rules.
I would say to my friends across the aisle and other Members who may be listening, these are all pretty substantive and major proposed changes. Most of them are controversial as well.
Frankly, in this gentleman's opinion, they all need and they all deserve some sorting out, some discussion, some real thought and attention. In short, they need to be the subject of serious and thoughtful and careful committee hearings and of committee markup.
They ought not, any of them, to be offered to the full membership in the manner that these three proposals are being offered today, although as I understand it perhaps only one is being pushed at this moment by my friend, the gentleman from Illinois [Mr. Hyde].
What is being proposed today in the resolution before us is a very modest change, one which I think all Members agree does not and did not require a great deal of consideration, other than the half hour or 40 minutes or so it might have taken in the Committee on Rules late last week.
The gentlemen across the aisle supported this themselves, and they stated themselves it corrects an oversight, an anomaly in the rules as they currently are.
I would say finally to my friends, and they are my friends, across the aisle, the gentleman from Illinois, the gentleman from New York, and the other gentlemen as well who have participated in this debate so far this evening, that this Member, as chairman of our committee, intends to ask the Committee on Rules to take up the whole slew of proposals that various Members have submitted concerning the makeup and the workings of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence early next year when we are back in session, when we are back in Washington.
We will have the opportunity at that time, as I think in truth and fact we do not have now, to take up and carefully consider these several proposals, some of which this Member believes have some considerable merit.
So I ask Members to approve this particular resolution, which is not opposed, and get on with the business of ending the session, if at all possible, in the next few days.
We will certainly revisit many, if not all, of the measures in the proposals which our friends across the aisle have spoken about today, and many others as well.
Mr. SOLOMON. Mr. Speaker, before yielding the balance of our time to the gentleman from Illinois [Mr. Hyde], let me just take a minute to first of all praise the gentleman from California [Mr. Beilenson], our chairman, and the gentleman from Illinois [Mr. Hyde], our ranking member, for the outstanding job they have done.
We in this Congress feel very comfortable with the gentlemen in their respective positions. We wish it was reversed.
Let me just say also that the gentleman from California [Mr. Beilenson] read from the minority views, and the gentleman is correct, and I concur with what was read. We do urge the Members to vote for this resolution. It is an anomaly in the rules and it should be corrected.
Mr. Speaker, Let me point out that of the leaks we see and hear about, probably 99 percent of them are unintentional. That is too bad. But I believe that if the gentleman from Illinois [Mr. Hyde] is successful in defeating the previous motion and is allowed to offer his secrecy oath amendment, that is going to make the Speaker and myself and every Member of this House more aware of all the information that we receive day by day, year in and year out, that it could be classified, and we do have a responsibility.
So I hope the Members back in their offices would come over here, vote to defeat that previous question, and then after the successful passage of the amendment of the gentleman from Illinois [Mr. Hyde], let Members vote from this resolution, which is a good resolution.
Mr. Speaker, I yield the balance of our time to the gentleman from Illinois [Mr. Hyde], the ranking member.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. (Mr. McCloskey). The gentleman from Illinois is advised he has 6 minutes.
Mr. HYDE. Mr. Speaker, I certainly hope I do not use the 6 minutes. At this point I do not intend to.
Let me just say in response to the gentleman from California [Mr. Beilenson] that he has no idea how delighted I am that he has indicated support for hearings on some of these issues.
My proposal for a Joint House and Senate Intelligence Committee, which, by the way, is supported by every living and at least one deceased, that I know of, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, the Vice President, and many other intelligence professionals, has been languishing in the Bermuda Triangle that sometimes makes up a corner of the Committee on Rules since August of 1984, 5 years.
I wrote repeatedly to the predecessor of the gentleman from Massachusetts [Mr. Moakley], the very esteemable Mr. Pepper, but never quite did he get around to scheduling hearings. I hope the remarks of the chairman of our committee are prophetic.
Let me also point out that hearings sometimes are used to delay things. I do not say that is a suggestion here, but I would point out we have expanded our committee without hearings, and it would seem to me shrinking our committee without hearings would be appropriate. But if we do get hearings, at least as I say, that is something.
Mr. Speaker, I am going to ask that the previous question be defeated. Not to defeat the gentleman's great resolution, important resolution, because it will pass in any event. I do not think any Member objects to it. But I wish to offer an amendment to it to require Members of the House permanent Select Committee on Intelligence to take an oath of secrecy, to swear that they will not reveal the very sensitive, highly classified information Members get on a daily basis.
This is simply to psychologically impress upon Members, myself and all of us, the importance of the information we are getting, the importance to our allies, to our national security, to our military forces, to the intelligence community.
We are different from other Members in that we meet in a very segregated place that is swept for listening devices. One has to get through doors and be recognized.
It seems to me that taking an oath simply solemnizes something that we admit deserves solemnity, importance.
So taking the oath, it seems to me, is a minimal step toward emphasizing the need for secrecy. Therefore, since it applies to all Members, there is certainly no partisan intent. It is just meant to elevate in the minds of all Members the importance of preserving secrecy.
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the courtesy that we have received. I look forward to the hearings on the joint bill, and on restructuring the committee, which is now 12 to 7. I would like to see it 7 to 6. Actually, I would like to see a joint committee, but that is an argument for another day.
I thank the Speaker for his indulgence and courtesy. I want to commend the gentleman from Massachusetts [Mr. Moakley] for being courteous and patient and understanding, and the gentleman from California [Mr. Beilenson] for doing a superb job as leader of our committee.
Mr. SOLOMON. Mr. Speaker, I have no further requests for time, and I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. MOAKLEY. Mr. Speaker, I have no further requests for time. However, prior to bringing this matter to a vote, I wish to make very clear to Members what we are voting on.
The pending resolution makes a very small amendment in the Rules of the House to clarify that the Speaker may have access to certain records of the Intelligence Committee. There is no disagreement with the rule, and the minority supports it.
The vote on the previous question is intended to obtain some kind of vote on a large package of rules changes proposed by the gentleman from Illinois. His amendments, are contained in House Resolution 279, which was introduced only 14 days ago. Obviously, neither the Rules Committee nor the Intelligence Committee have had an opportunity to seriously review these rules.
Mr. HYDE. Mr. Speaker, would the gentleman yield?
Mr. MOAKLEY. I yield to the gentleman from Illinois.
Mr. HYDE. Mr. Speaker, I just want to suggest that I am only going to offer the one amendment, to require an oath of secrecy by the members of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. I will not offer the security clearance, although I would like to, and I will not offer the restructuring of the committee. I would like to, but I will not. It is just the one, the oath of secrecy.
Mr. MOAKLEY. Mr. Speaker, neither House Resolution 279, nor any part of it is germane to the pending resolution. I fully expect the previous question to be ordered.
However, if the Hyde amendment were to be considered, I would make a point of order on germaneness, and I anticipate that the point of order would be sustained.
So I do want Members to understand that a vote against the previous question does not provide any opportunity to vote on the amendment.
The resolution is an important matter and should not be delayed by unrelated issues. I urge the House to order the previous question on the resolution, and I move the previous question.
Mr. Speaker, I move the previous question on the resolution.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on ordering the previous question.
The question was taken; and the Speaker pro tempore announced that the ayes appeared to have it.
Mr. HYDE. Mr. Speaker, I object to the vote on the ground that a quorum is not present, and make a point of order that a quorum is not present.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Evidently a quorum is not present.
The Sergeant at Arms will notify absent Members.
The vote was taken by electronic device, and there were--yeas 245, nays 176, not voting 12, as follows:
The Clerk announced the following pair:
On this vote:
Mr. Payne of New Jersey for, with Mr. Burton of Indiana against.
Mr. McCANDLESS changed his vote from `yea' to `nay.'
Mr. CONDIT changed his vote from `nay' to `yea.'
So the previous question was ordered.
The result of the vote was announced as above recorded.
The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. McCloskey). The question is on the resolution.
The resolution was agreed to.
A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.