Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions

Chair: Lamar Alexander

F

Projected Grade for the 116th Congress*

* 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]

1 Investigative Oversight Hearings

13 Policy/Legislative Hearings

26 Total Hearings

Last updated: Sept. 26, 2020, 12:19 a.m.

The HELP committee has jurisdiction over the medical research and regulation part of the Health and Human Services department, including the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Food and Drug Administration, as well as the Education and Labor departments, which include such areas as student loans and equal employment opportunity. Its pension responsibilities include private pension plans and the Pension Guaranty Corp. Many of the prominent issues it deals with—the opioid crisis, skyrocketing drug and medical prices, college expenses—lend themselves to bipartisan cooperation. The committee has three subcommittees: children and families; employment and workplace safety; and primary health and retirement security.

Over recent years the committee has maintained hearing schedule a bit below that of most legislative committees. In the 115th Congress, (2017-18) under Chairman Lamar Alexander (R, Tenn.), the committee held 65 hearings, an increase from the 56 it held in the previous Congress and right in line with the two prior Congresses. The figure is less than most other committees with broad jurisdiction.

The committee holds relatively few policy and legislative oversight hearings, and has been doing steadily fewer over the years. In the 111th Congress (2009-10), it held 30 policy and legislative hearings, but that figure had dwindled to just 19 in the 115th Congress. That was one of lowest figures among major committees.

After holding no investigative oversight hearings in the 113th and 114th Congresses (2013-16), the committee held one investigative oversight hearing in the 115th Congress. That May 2018 hearing heard from the HHS Inspector General and the GAO on long-standing oversight problems with the $16 billion-a-year 340B drug pricing program, which provides discounted outpatient drugs to hospitals and community health centers that primarily serve low-income patients.


Chairs

111th Congress: Tom Harkin (D-IA)

112th Congress: Tom Harkin (D-IA)

113th Congress: Tom Harkin (D-IA)

114th Congress: Lamar Alexander (R-TN)

115th Congress: Lamar Alexander (R-TN)

116th Congress: Lamar Alexander (R-TN)


Current Congress

We are 95% of the way through the 116th Congress

Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions

1 Investigative Oversight Hearings; 60% historical maximum
13 Policy/Legislative Hearings; 52% historical maximum
26 Total Hearings; 39% historical maximum

Committee History

Number of Hearings
Committee Hearing Performance
Investigative/Oversight Policy/Legislative Total Hearings Score Grade
111th Congress 2 30 80 100% A
112th Congress 2 29 65 89% B+
113th Congress 0 25 70 78% C+
114th Congress 0 23 56 66% D
115th Congress 1 19 65 71% C-
116th Congress* 1 13 26 49% F
Historical average 1.0 23.2 60.3

* 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]

Number of Hearings

--- Historical Average

Hearings held by the
Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions

Date Hearing Title Committee Category