Boehlert May Push Intel Reform

Republican leaders in Congress have asked a New York congressman in a tough re-election race to serve temporarily as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee (search), the lawmaker said Wednesday.

Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (searchtook over as acting committee chairman after President Bush nominated Rep. Porter Goss (search), R-Fla., as CIA director.

"The goal is to have some sort of legislative vehicle next month," Boehlert said. He said Speaker Dennis Hastert and other House leaders have indicated they want him to continue to lead the committee while legislation to implement recommendations of the Sept. 11 commission is worked on.

Boehlert said he still had not spoken to Hastert as of late Wednesday. Republican leaders could ask the congressman to remain acting chairman until the end of session or instead quickly install a permanent replacement for Goss on the committee. The latter move would disqualify Boehlert, because no member of Congress is allowed to lead two committees. Boehlert chairs the House Science Committee.

Hastert spokesman John Feehery said no decision has been made on naming a new chairman.

The Intelligence Committee post has a high profile this year, and both parties are trying to win votes on security issues. But Boehlert said he has no interest in taking permanent control of the panel and wants to retain his position on the science committee.

His new responsibilities are complicated by his effort to stave off a primary challenge from David Walrath, a doctor who nearly defeated Boehlert two years ago.

Boehlert had to juggle his district schedule so he could rush to Washington and lead an Intelligence Committee hearing Wednesday on recommendations by the Sept. 11 commission.