Chair: Richard Neal
Projected Grade for the 117th Congress
0 Investigative Oversight Hearings
7 Policy/Legislative Hearings
17 Total HearingsLast updated: July 23, 2021, 11:27 a.m.
The oldest committee in Congress, Ways and Means is also one of the most powerful. The Constitution says all tax and revenue bills must originate in the House, and by rule they pass through Ways and Means. With jurisdiction over tax reform and tariffs, as well as aspects of Social Security, Medicare, unemployment insurance and welfare, the chair of the committee is a prominent member of the House. Some, like legendary figures Wilbur Mills and Dan Rostenkowski, have been as well known as the Speaker. The chair is also one of the few to have an office in the Capitol building. Members are not allowed to serve on any other committee without a waiver from their party’s leadership. With just over 40 members, the committee is one of the larger ones in the House. Membership on the committee is considered useful for raising campaign contributions, and its influence over a broad range of policy often attracts members with strong ideological views. In the 116th Congress, the committee had six subcommittees: health; oversight; select revenue measures, Social Security; trade; and worker and family support.
Despite its broad jurisdiction and members with few other committee assignments, Ways and Means has had a less active hearing schedule than many other influential committees, such as Armed Services or Energy and Commerce. Hearing activity spiked in the 112th Congress under new chair Dave Camp (R-MI) with 106 hearings, but the average for the other five Congresses in the period was just 66. The committee has also had a somewhat erratic recent history of investigative oversight, from a high of eight investigative oversight hearings in the 113th Congress under Chair Camp, to none in the 115th or 116th Congresses (2017-20) under Chairs Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Richard Neal (D-MA).
In the pandemic-shortened 116th Congress under Chair Neal, the committee nonetheless held as many total hearings as in the previous Congress under Rep. Brady. However, policy and legislative hearings fell to just 21, the fewest in the 12-year period. It held no hearings into agency or private sector conduct.
111th Congress: Sander Levin (D-MI) [Charlie Rangel (D-NY)]
112th Congress: Dave Camp (R-MI)
113th Congress: Dave Camp (R-MI)
114th Congress: Kevin Brady (R-TX)
115th Congress: Kevin Brady (R-TX)
116th Congress: Richard Neal (D-MA)
117th Congress: Richard Neal (D-MA)
We are 31% of the way through the 117th Congress
House Committee on Ways and Means0 Investigative Oversight Hearings; 0% 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]