Chair: Patty Murray
Grade for the 117th Congress
0 Investigative Oversight Hearings
13 Policy/Legislative Hearings
57 Total HearingsLast updated: Nov. 18, 2023, 8:36 p.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 116th Congress, (2019-20) under Chairman Lamar Alexander (R, Tenn.), the committee held 26 hearings, the lowest in the 12-year period and a significant drop from the 65 it held in the 115th Congress (2017-18), also chaired by Sen. Alexander. 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 13 in the 116th 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 and one in the 116th. The investigative hearing in the 116th Congress, held in May 2020, was a high profile hearing with Dr. Fauci and others on the shortcomings of the federal pandemic response, which slowed the reopening of schools and businesses across the country.
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)
117th Congress: Patty Murray (D-WA)
We are 100% of the way through the 117th Congress
Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions0 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]