Pelosi taps Rep. Schiff as top Dem on Intel panel

After four years as the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger's (Md.) reign has come to an end.

Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffAre Democrats turning Trump-like? Schiff offers bill to make domestic terrorism a federal crime New intel chief inherits host of challenges MORE (Calif.) will replace Ruppersberger as ranking member of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in the 114th Congress, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced Thursday.

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Noting Schiff's experience on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Appropriations subpanel on intelligence oversight, Pelosi said his national security credentials are "impeccable."

"Congressman Schiff has been a vital voice on the most pressing national security challenges of our time, including counter terrorism efforts and challenges in the Middle East," Pelosi said in a statement. "He has proven himself to be a capable leader and a proponent of surveillance reforms."

Unlike most committees, the Intel panel has a term limit of eight years. Ruppersberger, who joined the committee as a freshman member, received an extension in 2010 allowing him to serve an additional four years.

From that perch, the Maryland Democrat — whose district includes the National Security Agency and Fort Meade — has been on the front lines of the thorny debates over NSA wiretapping, cyber-security threats and the probe into the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attack in Benghazi, which killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya.

Ruppersberger had requested a second term-limit extension, but that request wasn't granted.

Pelosi praised his service on the panel, characterizing him as "a steadfast protector of our national security, a leader in cybersecurity and a distinguished mind on technical programs critical to our intelligence infrastructure."

"Today, we know our nation is safer and stronger thanks to the efforts of this great American patriot," Pelosi said.

— This story was updated at 4:04 p.m.