The Committee on Ways and Means, more commonly referred to as the House Ways and Means Committee, is one of 29 U.S. House of Representative committees and is the chief tax-writing committee in the U.S.
The House Ways and Means Committee has jurisdiction over all bills relating to taxes and other revenue generation, as well as spending programs like Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment insurance, among others.
The History of the Ways and Means Committee
The House Ways and Means Committee is the oldest committee in Congress. The Committee was first established in 1789 and officially became a standing committee in 1802. Much of its power comes from Article I, Section VII of the Constitution, which states, “All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives.” The Committee then has the responsibility of appropriations, banking, and, chiefly, raising revenue.
Today’s House Ways and Means Committee focuses on taxes, revenue, tariffs, reciprocal trade agreements, U.S. bonded debt, revenue aspects of Social Security, Medicare, and other social service programs.
The Committee has six subcommittees: Health, Oversight, Social Security, Select Revenue Measures, Trade, and Worker and Family Support. Members are not allowed to serve on other committees unless they receive a special exemption.
Recent Major Provisions from the Committee
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 originated in the House Ways and Means Committee. More recently, the Build Back Better Act also originated in the Committee. While the latter bill did not pass in the Senate, some of the provisions were eventually incorporated into the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.Share