Chair: Ron Wyden
Projected Grade for the 117th Congress
1 Investigative Oversight Hearings
11 Policy/Legislative Hearings
30 Total HearingsLast updated: July 31, 2021, 7:18 p.m.
With jurisdiction over taxes, trade, Medicare, Medicaid and other major health care legislation, Social Security and welfare reform, the committee’s work directly affects virtually every adult American. At 28 members, it is one of the Senate’s largest committees. Originally formed to raise money for the government through taxes and tariffs, its remit expanded into social welfare in the 1930s with the creation of Social Security, and into health care financing with the passage of Medicare and Medicaid in the 1960s. It produced President Obama’s Affordable Care Act of 2010 and President Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. It votes on nominees for Treasury and Health and Human Services secretaries and the U.S. Trade Representative, but also has jurisdiction over certain parts of the Agriculture, Commerce, Homeland Security and Labor departments. The committee has six subcommittees: international trade, customs and global competitiveness; taxation and IRS oversight; Social Security, pensions and family policy; health care; energy, natural resources and infrastructure; and fiscal responsibility and economic growth.
Despite its vast influence, the committee has held fewer hearings than many other major committees over the 12-year period. Except for the 112th Congress (2011-12), when it held 83 hearings, the committee has held only 65 or fewer hearings over the other five Congresses. In the 116th Congress (2019-20) under Chair Chuck Grassley (R, Iowa), it held only 36 hearings, the fewest of the 12-year period, though final grades were adjusted for the abbreviated schedule due to Covid-19.
The committee does relatively little policy and legislative oversight compared to other major committees. Such hearings typically take up less than half the committee’s hearing schedule. In the 116th Congress under Chair Grassley, it held 14 policy and legislative hearings, a drop from 17 in the previous Congress and the committee’s lowest figure for the 12-year-period. It was the third-lowest among major committees after the Agriculture committee, which held 9, and the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee, which held 19.
The committee historically has held few investigative oversight hearings, averaging a bit more than one per Congress. During the 116th Congress, however, Chair Grassley conducted a record-high of five investigative oversight hearings.
111th Congress: Max Baucus (D-MT)
112th Congress: Max Baucus (D-MT)
113th Congress: Max Baucus (D-MT) [Ron Wyden (D-OR)]
114th Congress: Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
115th Congress: Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
116th Congress: Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
117th Congress: Ron Wyden (D-OR)
We are 39% of the way through the 117th Congress
Senate Committee on Finance1 Investigative Oversight Hearings; 21% historical maximum
Number of Hearings
Committee Hearing Performance
* Adjustments have been applied so that committees' grades are not lowered by the constraints on hearings caused by Covid-19 [oversight-index.thelugarcenter.org/covid-19-statement]