The House Ways and Means Committee, Explained
What is the House Ways and Means Committee?
The House Ways and Means Committee is a powerful one, deriving most of its power from Article I, Section VII of the U.S. Constitution, which states that "All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives." It provides oversight to all revenue and related issues, including banking, tariffs, Social Security, Medicare, and other social service programs. Recently, this committee has been in the news for their lawsuit to obtain President Trump’s taxes. Democrat Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) is the Chair and the Ranking Member is Republican Kevin Brady (R-TX).
The House Ways and Means Committee includes six subcommittees:
- Health Subcommittee
- Oversight Subcommittee
- Social Security Subcommittee
- Select Revenue Measures Subcommittee
- Trade Subcommittee
- Worker & Family Support Subcommittee
What is the House Ways and Means Committee responsible for?
The House Ways and Means Committee is the chief tax-writing committee of the House. Jurisdiction over revenue-raising measures, tariffs, and all taxation is also the committee’s responsibility. Other important programs the committee oversees include:
- Social Security
- Unemployment Insurance
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
Who is the current chairman?
Congressman Richard Neal, a Democrat from Massachusetts is the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. This is Neal’s first term as chairman, though he was first elected to the house in 1988. In his first year as chairman, Neal has already worked on important measures such as the North American trade agreement between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico (USMCA), passing the SECURE act which allows citizens to expand their retirement savings, and the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act.
The Ranking Member is Republican Kevin Brady of Texas, and was the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee prior to Democrats taking back the House in 2016. It was Brady who helped author and pass the contentious GOP’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in late 2017.
Each Subcommittee also has a Chairman. At present they are: Health Subcommittee - Lloyd Doggett (D-TX); Oversight Subcommittee - John Lewis (D-GA); Social Security Subcommittee - John Larson (D-CT); Select Revenue Measures Subcommittee - Mike Thompson (D-CA); Trade Subcommittee - Earl Blumenauer (D-OR); and Worker & Family Support Subcommittee - Danny Davis (D-IL).Looking to make a difference? Consider signing one of these sponsored petitions:
Who are the House Ways and Means Committee Members?
The House Ways and Means Committee has 42 members currently comprised of 25 Democrats and 17 Republicans.
- Richard Neal, Chair (D-MA)
- John Lewis (D-GA)
- Lloyd Doggett (D-TX)
- Mike Thompson (D-CA)
- John Larson (D-CT)
- Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)
- Ron Kind (D-WI)
- Bill Pascrell (D-NJ)
- Danny Davis (D-IL)
- Linda Sanchez (D-CA)
- Brian Higgins (D-NY)
- Terri Sewell (D-AL)
- Suzan DelBene (D-WA)
- Judy Chu (D-CA)
- Gwen Moore (D-WI)
- Dan Kildee (D-MI)
- Brendan Boyle (D-PA)
- Don Beyer (D-VA)
- Dwight Evans (D-PA)
- Brad Schneider (D-IL)
- Tom Suozzi (D-NY)
- Jimmy Panetta (D-CA)
- Stephanie Murphy (D-FL)
- Jimmy Gomez (D-CA)
- Steven Horsford (D-NV)
- Kevin Brady, Ranking Member (R-TX)
- Devin Nunes (R-CA)
- Vern Buchanan (R-FL)
- Adrian Smith (R-NE)
- Kenny Marchant (R-TX)
- Tom Reed (R-NY)
- Mike Kelly (R-PA)
- George Holding (R-NC)
- Jason Smith (R-MO)
- Tom Rice (R-SC)
- David Schweikert (R-AZ)
- Jackie Walorski (R-IN)
- Darin LaHood (R-IL)
- Brad Wenstrup (R-OH)
- Jodey Arrington (R-TX)
- Drew Ferguson (R-GA)
- Ron Estes (R-KS)
History of the House Ways and Means Committee
The House Ways and Means Committee was first established as a select committee in 1789, was discharged shortly thereafter, but reinstated in 1795 during the Fourth Congress. It was formally listed as a standing committee in 1802, and is the oldest committee of Congress. The committee is so important that Representatives are not allowed to serve on other committees.
Many distinguished members of the House Ways and Means Committee go on to serve in higher office, including Eight Presidents, eight Vice Presidents, 21 Speakers of the House of Representatives, and four Justices of the Supreme Court.
Past Committee Chairman:
- Richard Neal, Democrat - 2019-Present
- Kevin Brady, Republican - 2015 to 2019
- Paul Ryan, Republican - 2015
- Dave Camp, Republican - 2011 to 2015
- Sander Levin (acting), Democrat - 2010 to 2011
- Pete Stark (acting), Democrat - 2010
- Charles Rangel, Democrat - 2007 to 2010
- Bill Thomas, Republican - 2001 to 2007
- Bill Archer, Republican - 1995 to 2001
- Sam Gibbons (acting), Democrat - 1994 to 1995
- Dan Rostenkowski, Democrat - 1981 to 1994
- Al Ullman, Democrat - 1975 to 1981
- Al Ullman (acting), Democrat - 1973 to 1975
- Wilbur Mills, Democrat - 1957 to 1975
The Rantt Rundown
The House Ways and Means Committee, the oldest committee of Congress, provides oversight in the critical area of revenue and taxation. The committee spends a large portion of their time drafting tax, trade, and social services program legislation. Important legislation coming out of the committee might concern the Affordable Care Act, Social Security, Medicare, tariffs, trade agreements, or taxes. Democrats have been in charge of the committee since 2019.