Representative Mac Thornberry, a senior U.S. Republican filed legislation on Wednesday seeking to rein in the White House’s National Security Council, saying it has grown too large and is trying to play too big a role in foreign policy.
Reuters reported that Thornberry said his measure would increase oversight of the NSC, capping it at 100 people or allowing it to be larger but subjecting the National Security adviser to confirmation by the Senate.
Thornberry estimated the NSC currently has 400 staff.
“All of President (Barack) Obama’s former Defense Secretaries have complained about micromanagement by the NSC,” Thornberry, chairman of the powerful House of Representatives Armed Services Committee, said in a statement. “I have personally heard from troops on the frontlines who have received intimidating calls from junior White House staffers.
“Now we hear reports of NSC staffers running misinformation campaigns targeted at Congress and the press,” Thornberry said. He was referring to a recent New York Times profile in which a deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, discussed ways the administration had communicated about last year’s Iran nuclear deal to the Washington press corps.
Administration officials have dismissed proposals like Thornberry’s as political ploys.
Ned Price, a spokesman for the NSC, commented that the White House has already taken steps to trim staff and streamline procedures.
Thornberry introduced his legislation as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, a must-pass annual defense bill.
To become law, a version of the NDAA including Thornberry’s amendment would have to pass both the House and Senate and be signed into law by Obama.
(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Leslie Adler)