Rep. Anthony C. Beilenson (D-Los Angeles) has been allowed a second year as chairman of the U.S. House Permanent Committee on Intelligence through a rare exemption from a House rule that would have required him to give up the committee seat at the end of the year.
Beilenson had been appointed chairman in January but faced an unusually short one-year tenure because a House rule prohibits members from serving more than six consecutive years on the Intelligence Committee. Beilenson was appointed to the panel in 1984.
At the behest of recently elected House Speaker Thomas S. Foley, the Democratic caucus recommended a waiver of the rules to allow Beilenson to complete the two-year term as chairman. The full House granted the extension Wednesday.
"It just takes into account the anomaly of Mr. Beilenson's situation," said Jeffrey Biggs, a spokesman for Foley. "I don't know how far back you'd have to go to find a chairman for only one year."
The Intelligence Committee, formed in 1977, oversees the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency and intelligence-related activities of other federal departments. The committee must approve the agencies' budgets and ensure that they remain within the law.
Beilenson said Thursday that Foley took into account the time that it takes for a committee chairman to develop a working relationship with heads of the various intelligence agencies.
"He also thought that they would deal with us more squarely and in a more forthcoming manner if they knew that the chairman would remain for some time and not just the remainder of the year," Beilenson said.
Also, he said, "This will give us more time to get the committee involved in some more extensive oversight work: In looking at what the intelligence agencies are doing and how successfully they're doing it and what improvements can be made."
Extension of Beilenson's appointment forestalled the anticipated appointment of Rep. David McCurdy (D-Okla.) as Intelligence Committee chairman. McCurdy, an ally of former Speaker Jim Wright, was Wright's choice to succeed Beilenson when his one-year term expired.
Beilenson's 23st District stretches from the northwest San Fernando Valley over the Santa Monica Mountains to the Westside of Los Angeles from Malibu to West Hollywood. He is the only San Fernando Valley-area representative to chair a committee.