House Committee on Energy and Commerce

Chair: Frank Pallone

C+

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]

16 Investigative Oversight Hearings

63 Policy/Legislative Hearings

124 Total Hearings

Last updated: Oct. 3, 2020, 6:51 p.m.

A committee with a long history, Energy and Commerce has grown over the years to have one of the broadest jurisdictions of any authorizing committee. It oversees five cabinet departments---Commerce, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security and Transportation—as well as a number of important regulatory agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Communications Commission, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. This gives it legislative authority over such vital—and sometimes controversial—issues as Medicare and Medicaid, food and drug safety, nuclear and renewable energy, pollution and climate change, TV and the internet, cybersecurity, and interstate and foreign commerce.

The committee has six powerful subcommittees: communications and technology; consumer protection and commerce; energy; environment and climate change; health; and one of the few standing subcommittees on oversight and investigations.

Given its broad scope, the committee typically holds more hearings than most others in the House. Thanks to its investigations subcommittee, Energy and Commerce also traditionally holds more investigative oversight hearings than any House committee except Oversight and Government Reform. The high water mark for investigative hearings in the period was 21 during 2009-10, the first two years of the Obama administration, under activist Democrat Henry Waxman of California. Under two Republican chairs in the next four Congresses, the committee held an average of 15.5 investigative hearings. That figure was maintained in the pandemic-shortened 116th Congress (2019-20) with 16, under Democratic Chair Frank Pallone of New Jersey. However, policy and legislative oversight picked up considerably during 2011-16 under Waxman’s successor, Chair Fred Upton (R, Mich.). The figure fell back again in the 115th Congress (2017-18) under Chair Greg Walden, a Republican from Oregon, and fell even further in the 116th Congress.

During the 116th Congress, the committee conducted 16 investigative hearings, many of them challenging controversial Trump administration policies. Hearing subjects included the administration's family separation policy at the border, the consumer implications of the T-Mobile-Sprint merger, lax enforcement at EPA, EPA's record on protecting workers from dangerous chemicals, the prospective $377 billion cost to clean up the Energy Department's nuclear waste sites, the EPA's effort to roll back limits on toxic mercury emissions from power plants, the administration's rollback of auto fuel economy standards, Trump's policies on unaccompanied children at the border, the administration's efforts to dismantle Obamacare and cut Medicaid costs, the administration's failure to toughen drinking water lead limits in the wake of the Flint, Mich., crisis, the pricing practices of the live event ticketing industry, the manufacturers' role in promoting the dangerous e-cigarette boom among young people, the proliferation of fake and unsafe merchandise for sale online, two hearings looking at the administration's COVID-19 response, and a critical look at the record of the Federal Communications Commission under Trump.


Chairs

111th Congress: Henry Waxman (D-CA)

112th Congress: Fred Upton (R-MI)

113th Congress: Fred Upton (R-MI)

114th Congress: Fred Upton (R-MI)

115th Congress: Greg Walden (R-OR)

116th Congress: Frank Pallone (D-NJ)


Current Congress

We are 100% of the way through the 116th Congress

House Committee on Energy and Commerce

16 Investigative Oversight Hearings; 95% historical maximum
63 Policy/Legislative Hearings; 58% historical maximum
124 Total Hearings; 76% historical maximum

Committee History

Number of Hearings
Committee Hearing Performance
Investigative/Oversight Policy/Legislative Total Hearings Score Grade
111th Congress 21 92 174 87% B
112th Congress 14 136 202 99% A
113th Congress 17 123 200 98% A
114th Congress 17 131 198 100% A
115th Congress 14 95 179 81% B-
116th Congress* 16 63 124 78% C+
Historical average 16.5 106.7 179.5

* 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
House Committee on Energy and Commerce

Date Hearing Title Committee Category