The top Democrat on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence introduced new legislation on Wednesday in response to President Donald Trump’s decision to give political strategist Steve Bannon a seat on the White House’s most critical national-security committee.
The bill is a direct response to a Trump order appointing Bannon to the National Security Council’s “principals committee,” giving the right-wing ideologue a permanent seat at the table — while excluding the director of national intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., announced a bill titled the Strengthening Oversight of National Security Act that would codify the permanent members and structure of the National Security Council, and require a joint congressional resolution to add any member or attendee who has not been confirmed by the Senate – other than a handful of non-political White House staff members.
It would also limit the principals committee to members of the National Security Council. And if someone who is not Senate-confirmed needs to attend for a “one-time decisionmaking action” it would require their name to be shared with Congress within 24 hours.
While the bill doesn’t mention Bannon, it clearly addresses the widespread outrage his appointment to the NSC principals committee triggered. Bannon’s job, like most White House jobs, did not require Senate confirmation.
“President Trump’s reorganization of the NSC is deeply troubling, and it reflects a misguided desire to place political considerations above the valued and sober advice of any president’s most experienced military and intelligence advisors,” Warner said in a press release. “In this specific case, the administration’s misguided approach literally could mean the difference between war and peace.”
Loren D. Schulman, former senior advisor to President Obama’s National Security Advisor Susan Rice and deputy director of studies Center for a New America Society, said the bill has got “the right instinct.”
“The prospect of political agendas and polls shaping situation-room debates on whether to, for example, send U.S. troops into danger, is shocking, and has the real prospect of swaying or stifling arguments that should be driven by American national security interest,” she wrote in an email to The Intercept.