What Does the House Ways & Means Committee Do?


Do you have any interest in Trump’s tax returns? If so, you’re going to want to pay attention to what the House Ways and Means Committee is doing.

Taxes are a top issue for this committee, but by no means the only issue. The House Ways and Means Committee has long been considered the most powerful in Congress–more Presidents, Vice Presidents, and Speakers of the House have served on this committee than any others. As you’ll see, this committee oversees a lot of critical issues. Here’s a quick guide for you.

What is the Committee’s Charge?

The primary responsibility of the Ways and Means Committee is to write tax legislation, which must originate in the House, not the Senate. Remember the Republican “tax scam” that got passed in the previous Congress? Well that got its start in this committee.

Beyond taxes, the committee oversees the parts of government dealing with revenue such as tariffs, reciprocal trade agreements (think NAFTA), the Social Security system, Medicare, unemployment insurance, enforcement of child support laws, foster care and adoption programs, and other social services programs.

As with all committees, Ways and Means both conducts both oversight into these issues and is the place where legislation dealing with these issues originates.

There are six subcommittees:
✦ Health
✦ Oversight
✦ Social Security
✦ Select Revenue Measures
✦ Trade
✦ Human Resources

Who is the Committee Chair?

neal pic

Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal

Rep. Richard Neal (D-Massachusetts) is the new Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee. He takes over from Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) who repeatedly blocked attempts to get Trump’s tax returns and was a key architect of the 2017 tax cuts which primarily benefit the wealthy.

Neal has sponsored key legislation aimed at helping the middle class such as encouraging the use of individual retirement accounts, making healthcare and tuition expenses tax-deductible for middle class folks, eliminating the AMT, and fighting to protect Medicare and Social Security.

What can we expect from the Committee going forward?

On the top of everyone’s minds is when the committee will finally see Trump’s tax returns. Rep. Neal has already reportedly consulted with congressional attorneys about how to legally acquire this information and is building the case via hearings for why voters should have access to them. Under IRS rules, Neal is only one of three people in Congress who can ask the Treasury Department for the tax returns (the other two are the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and the head of the Joint Committee on Taxation, both of whom are currently Republicans.)

Beyond tax returns, Neal has said he is working on legislation to strengthen Social Security, make saving easier, and do more to encourage employers to offer retirement plans. Additionally, the committee will tackle lowering health care costs, cutting taxes for middle-class families, and modernizing our nation’s infrastructure.

How to stay on top of what the Committee is doing

Website: https://waysandmeans.house.gov/
Press Releases: https://waysandmeans.house.gov/media-center/press-releases
Twitter: @WaysMeansCmte
Facebook: WaysandMeans

This is the fifth and final post in a short series on the key House Committees. Previous posts covered the Oversight Committee, the Intelligence Committee. the Judiciary Committee, and the Financial Services Committee

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