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House Crime Subcommittee Assignments After House of Representatives Gets Organized


December 1994

by Eric E. Sterling, President, The Criminal Justice Policy Foundation

The members of the House Subcommittee on Crime have been announced: eight Republican and five Democratic members. Membership on the House Judiciary Committee (with telephone numbers) is below.

Rep. Bill McCollum (8th Dist., Orlando, Florida) will be the chairman of the crime subcommittee. He had been the ranking Republican member of the Crime Subcommittee for six years (1985-90), and also served on the Subcommittee in 1991-92. His chief counsel is Paul McNulty (202-225-3926), who had been the minority counsel for four years until he went to work for the Department of Justice where he was a chief advisor and spokesman for Attorney General William Barr. McNulty has been the Executive Director of the First Freedom Coalition.

The other Republican Subcommittee members are Howard Coble (NC), Steve Schiff (NM), Steve Buyer (IN), Fred Heineman (NC), Ed Bryant (TN), Steve Chabot (OH), and Bob Barr (GA). The five Democrats are Charles E. ("Chuck") Schumer (NY); Patricia ("Pat") Schroeder (CO); Robert C. ("Bobby") Scott (VA); Zoe Lofgren (CA); and Sheila Jackson Lee (TX). The Minority Chief Counsel is likely to be Tom Diaz (202-225-7087) who worked for Schumer in the last Congress. On the Republican side, this will be an extremely strong subcommittee, with members very experienced in the subject matter. The subcommittee is tied closely to the leadership, and its members have proven themselves aggressive campaigners who defeated fairly strong and entrenched incumbents. Schiff was a prosecutor for eight years. Barr and Ed Bryant are both experienced former U.S. Attorneys. Barr is a neighbor and close ally of Speaker Newt Gingrich's. Fred Heineman has been a police chief for fifteen years. Barr and Ed Bryant are likely to have a network of friends in Federal law enforcement agencies and the Justice Department. With their direct and recent experience in Federal law enforcement they are knowledgeable and will be very influential in debate on almost any crime issue. Lobbying those members from the perspective of drug policy reform, sentencing reform, "gun control," or other approaches deemed "liberal," is likely to be extremely difficult. On the Democratic side, none of the members have law enforcement experience. Only Schumer has extensive experience with the issues.

Rep. McCollum has generally supported longer sentences, prison expansion, the death penalty, limitations on habeas corpus, and most of the provisions that are in the "Taking Back Our Streets Act" (H.R. 3) portion of the "Contract With America." Rep. McCollum was the ranking Republican member of the House Crime Subcommittee in 1986 and 1988 when the major Anti-Drug Abuse Acts were written, and was a strong advocate for mandatory minimum sentences when they were being developed and expanded. However, he was sympathetic to the creation of a safety-valve, and its retroactive application in 1994. Rep. McCollum fought the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act because of the waiting period. He argued instead for provisions providing for an instant record check to allow immediate sale of handguns. (U. Florida, BA and JD).

McCollum was elected in 1980. His is a solidly Republican district and he was unopposed for re-election in 1994. He has moved up the ladder in House Republican leadership, but was defeated last month in a bid to become the Republican Whip, the number three position. He came in third in a three-person race. He has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to Republican House candidates in the 1994 election cycle. McCollum also serves on the Immigration Subcommittee. He is the number two Republican on the Banking and Financial Services Committee and sits on the Subcommittee on Finacial Institutions, and the Subcommittee on Consumer Credit.

Another veteran member of the Subcommittee is Rep. Steve Schiff (1st Dist., Albuquerque, New Mexico). Schiff was elected in 1988, and is starting his fourth term. He joined the Judiciary Committee in 1991 and joined the Crime and Criminal Justice subcommittee. He was the District Attorney for Albuquerque for eight years before he ran for Congress. In the aborted 1992 crime bill, amendments that he sponsored were adopted: providing federal grants to prosecutors to try in adult court 16- and 17-year olds who are accused of violent crimes; making possession of a stolen firearm a federal crime; increasing the penalties for illegal interstate gun trafficking; and setting a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence for a possession of a firearm by a person with a conviction for a violent crime. He also opposed the Brady bill. In the 1994 crime bill, he offered amendments to provide federal grants to states to fight drunk driving and to take money away from states if they did not lower the blood alcohol concentration that defines intoxication from .10% to .08%; to add drug offenses to the "three strikes and you're out" provision of mandatory life imprisonment for committing specified violent crimes; and to make it easier for Federal prosecutors to initiate Federal juvenile delinquency proceedings. Schiff is a member of the Science Committee where he is chairman of the Subcommittee on Basic Research and a member of the Subcommittee on Energy and Environment. He obtained a waiver of the rules allowing him to serve on a third committee, the Committee on Government Reform and Oversight. He will sit on the Subcommittee on National Security, International Affairs and Criminal Justice, and the Subcommittee on Human Resources and Intergovernmental Affairs. (U. Illinois, BA; U. New Mexico, JD).

Rep. Howard Coble (6th Dist., Greensboro, NC) represents a district in the center of North Carolina that, when redistricted in 1992, was stripped of African-American voters to create the 12th District. The 6th district is 91% white, 7% black. The 12th district, represented by Rep. Melvin Watt (D), who also serves on the Judiciary Committee, is 42% white, 57% black. Coble was elected in 1984. He has strongly opposed Federal Prison Industries which he sees as competing with his constituents in the important North Carolina furniture industry. He has been an opponent to gun control except for one vote in 1990. He served on the former Select Committee on Narcotics Abuse and Control. He has supported "streamlining" or restricting the availability of Habeas Corpus. He was an early supporter of Newt Gingrich's campaign for Whip in 1988-89. Coble was an early supporter of Congressional term limits -- a maximum of three four-year terms. He has regularly attacked Congressional perks such as travel and Congressional pensions, and introduced a bill in 1985 to reduce Congressional pay. Coble is also a member of the Subcommittee on Courts and Intellectual Property. On the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, he is the chairman of the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, and a member of the Subcommittee on Aviation. Coble won in 1984 and 1986 with very small margins, but is now secure winning 71% of the vote in 1992 and ran unopposed in 1994. He is personable and popular in the House. (Guilford C. BA; U. North Carolina, JD).

All of the other Republican members are new to the Judiciary Committee. Rep. Steve Buyer (5th Dist., Indiana) (pronounced BOO-yer) was elected in 1992 by beating 4-term Democratic incumbent Jim Jontz. Jontz had been a whiz-kid, winning every election since he was elected to the Indiana legislature at 22. Buyer waged a very aggressive campaign (he sought the views of every Republican that had run against Jontz in mapping strategy). Buyer served in the U.S. Army Reserve and in the Army. During the Persian Gulf War, Buyer served in the Gulf as a lawyer for U.S. forces there. In 1993 he announced that he would begin all speeches with a prayer, and an invitation to speak at a local high school was therefore withdrawn. Buyer serves on the Veterans Affairs Committee's Subcommittee on Education, Training, Employment and Housing, and he National Security Committee's Subcommittee on Military Procurement, and the Subcommittee on Military Personnel. (The Citadel, BS; Valparaiso U., JD).

The other four Republican members of the Subcommittee are freshmen.

Rep. Bob Barr (7th Dist., Georgia) is a friend of Newt Gingrich, who hosted Barr's birthday party this year. He defeated 5-term Democrat Buddy Darden. Darden's defeat was a surprise -- he had never received less than 55% of the vote. In 1992, redistricting gave the 7th District portions of Gingrich's district, but Darden still received 57% of the vote, running way ahead of Clinton's 38%. Barr got strong financial help from the National Republican Congressional Committee, raising over $600,000, and endorsements from the National Rifle Association and the Policemen's Benevolent Association. Barr has practiced law for four years in Atlanta, but before that he was a hard-charging U.S. Attorney in the Reagan and Bush Administrations. Earlier he worked for the CIA for 8 years as an analyst and in legislative affairs. In 1992 he ran for U.S. Senate but lost the Republican nomination run-off by less than one percent to Paul Coverdell, who won the seat from Democrat Wyche Fowler. Barr ran for the House on a strong anti-crime and anti-abortion platform. Barr also sits on the Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law, and on the Committee on Banking and Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. (U. Southern California, BA; Georgetown, JD),

Rep. Ed Bryant (7th Dist., Tennessee) took an open seat that had been held by a Republican since 1982. The district's western anchor is the suburbs of Memphis, and the district then stretches east and north almost to Nashville. Rep. Ed Bryant had been the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee under President Bush. He prosecuted Rep. Harold E. Ford (a Democrat who represents Memphis who had moved up to a senior position on the Ways and Means Committee), who had been indicted in 1987 for bank fraud, mail fraud and tax fraud for trading his influence in exchange for more than $1 million in loans from Jake and C.H. Butcher, Jr., former Knoxville bankers. Ford got a mistrial because of a hung jury in 1990, but his retrial was complicated by a challenge to the racial composition of the jury selection process in which the Justice Department joined. Ed Bryant resigned in 1993 charging that the Clinton Administration had pressured him to drop the case against Ford. (Ford was re-elected throughout the period that the charges were pending, was acquitted in April 1993, and was re-elected in November 1994.) Ed Bryant has been described as a law and order conservative who supports capital punishment and "opposes gun control." Ed Bryant is one of two former U.S. Attorneys to serve on the subcommittee. Ed Bryant also sits on the Judiciary Committee Immigration Subcommittee and on the Committee on Agriculture. (U of Mississippi, BA and JD)

Rep. Fred Heineman (4th Dist., Raleigh, NC) defeated 4-term Democrat David Price. This was a surprise upset to many. Price had previously won against strong, well-financed opponents, and by 1992 won with 65% of the vote. Heineman was the chief of police in Raleigh for 15 years, and ran as the tough-on-crime alternative. Heineman was a street cop in New York City from 1954 to 1979 rising through the ranks to deputy chief inspector -- he was not a headquarters cop. Like many senior New York police officials, he was a prime candidate to be police chief elsewhere. After his arrival in Raleigh, he was praised for modernizing the force, and for increasing the number of women and minorities on the force. He also sits on the Judiciary Committee Immigration Subcommittee and serves on the Banking and Financial Services Committee's Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation. (St. Francis College, BA; John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Master's in Criminal Justice).

Rep. Steve Chabot (1st Dist., Cincinnati, Ohio) (pronounced SHA-but) defeated freshman Democrat David Mann, a Judiciary Committee member. Mann was hobbled by voting for NAFTA, and had survived a tough primry fight against his principal primary challenger in 1992. Chabot had previously run for Congress in 1990. Chabot had his own law office, and served two and half terms on the Cincinnati City Council. He also served on the Hamilton County Commission. In a recent capsule description of his candidacy by Roll Call, a Washington, DC newspaper specializing in Congress, his positions on crime were not identified. Chabot is also a member of the Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law, and serves on the International Relations Committee's Subcommittee on Africa and the Subcommittee on International Economic Policy and Trade, and on the Small Business Committee's Subcommittee on Exports, Procurement and Trade. (College of William and Mary, BA; Chase College of Law, JD).

The Democratic Line-Up:

Rep. Charles E. ("Chuck") Schumer (9th Dist., Brooklyn, NY) is one of the leading Democrats in the House. To quote Politics in America, 1994: "If any member of the House ... can be called ubiquitous, it is Schumer. Indeed, everything about him is out-sized: his agenda, his ego and his legislative trophies. Were he not as effective as any three less ambitious members, his colleagues would scorn him; instead they are merely envious. ... Schumer thrives not only in the public eye, but also in the back rooms that are the incubators of legislative accomplishment. He is shrewd and tough, sees the big picture but attends to detail, and can make necessary compromises." Schumer's 9th district includes parts of Brooklyn and Queens in New York -- it is 88% white, 3% black. Its neighborhoods include Park Slope, Brooklyn College, Canarsie, Sheepshead Bay, the Rockaways, Woodhaven, Howard Beach, Kew Garden, and Forest Hills. (Harvard U., BA and JD).

Schumer chaired the Criminal Justice Subcommittee from 1989 until 1995. He was one of the major architects of the 1994 Crime Bill. He was the major force in enacting the Brady gun control bill in the House, and McCollum fought the bill. The New York Times has identified him as the member who will be the principal advocate for New York City in the Congress, and reports that it is his ambition to run against George E. Pataki for Governor of New York in 1998. It is highly unlikely that Schumer will attempt to create a bipartisan alliance with Chairman McCollum. He is likely to try to outmaneuver McCollum as tougher on crime, particularly as stronger on gun control. Overall, he is likely to be frustrated. Schumer is also on the Judiciary Immigration Subcommittee, and on the Committee on Banking and Financial Services where he is the fourth ranking Democrat. He sits on the Financial Institutions Subcommittee and the Capital Formation Subcommittee.

Rep. Patricia ("Pat") Schroeder (1st. Dist., Denver, CO), first elected in 1972, is the second-ranking Democrat on House Judiciary. She is the most senior woman in the Congress. She has chosen to be the top Democrat on the Subcommittee on the Constitution, on which she has served for many years. Her district is Denver and some of the northern suburbs where she consistently wins between 60% and 70% of the vote. In a series of blows, she has lost influence in the past couple years. In 1991-2 she was a member of six committees or subcommittees and chaired two. She chaired the Select Committee on Children, Youth and Families. It was abolished in 1993. She was number two on the Committee on Post Office and Civil Service. It was abolished in 1995. Now she serves on two Judiciary Subcommittees -- Crime, and the Constitution, and one subcommittee on the Committee on National Security (formerly Armed Services) -- Military Research and Development. (U. Minnesota, BA, Harvard U., JD).

Rep. Robert C. ("Bobby") Scott (3rd Dist., Newport News, VA) represents a district that is 64% black that stretches from Richmond to Newport News. Scott is starting his second term, but he is experienced, having served 14 years in the Virginia Assembly and Senate where he had a reputation as effective and conscientious. He is the first African-American from Virginia to serve in Congress since 1891. Last Congress, he took a leadership role in the House Judiciary Committee and the Congressional Blac Caucus pushing for crime prevention and against the death penalty and "three strikes and you're out." By 1994, he was being mentioned as a possible U.S. Senate candidate to run against Chuck Robb and Oliver North. He also sits on Judiciary's Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee. He is on the Committee on Education and Economic Opportunity where he is on the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Youth and Families, and the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. (Harvard U., BA; Boston College, JD).

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (16th Dist., San Jose, CA) succeeds Rep. Don Edwards who retired after 32 years. The district, the eastern half of Santa Clara County (population 1.5 million) includes downtown San Jose, now California's second largest city. The district is Northern California's most Hispanic district, 37%. Lofgren won an upset in the primary and took the general election with 65%, a stronger showing than Edwards received in 1990 and 1992, and better than Bill Clinton's 52% in 1992. She was a Santa Clara County supervisor. In the early 70s, she worked in Rep. Edwards' offices in Washington and California. She has practiced immigration law and worked for low-income housing. She expressed plans to be an advocate for children, particularly the poor and working class. The Crime Subcommittee is her only subcommittee on Judiciary. She also has a seat on the Committee on Science which is fitting for a Member from "Silicon Valley." She sits on the Subcommittee on Technology and the Subcommittee on Basic Research. (Stanford U., BA; U. Santa Clara, JD).

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (18th Dist., Houston, TX) was the probably the first challenger to know she was going to Congress when she won a Democratic primary challenge in March 1994 against Rep. Craig Washington in this strongly Democratic district. Previously, this district has sent leading liberal representatives such as Barbara Jordan and Mickey Leland to Congress. Clinton carried it by 66% in 1992. Craig Washington, a former criminal defense lawyer, would often argue passionately in Committee taking the liberal positions one would expect. Unfortunately he was undependable and frequently missed votes. He lent his name to the omnibus anti-crime bill that focused on prevention, that would repeal the crack cocaine mandatory minimum sentences, that would reform forfeiture, etc., but Reps. Conyers, Scott, and Watt were much more involved in planning strategy, negotiating and committee action. Texas Monthly once described Washington as "missing in action." His atrocious record for missing many votes and his opposition to NAFTA in pro-business Houston were important elements of his defeat.

Rep. Jackson Lee (no hyphen) has 17-years experience as a lawyer in private practice, largely for business. She has been a low-level municipal judge and a member of the Houston City Council. She served on the staff of the House Select Committee on Assassinations in the mid-1970s. She has been unsuccessful in getting onto the Commerce Committee, her first choice. In addition to Judiciary, she serves on the Science Committee. (Yale U., BA. U. Virginia, JD).