United States House Committee on Ways and Means

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"Ways and Means Committee" redirects here. For the defunct UK committee, see Ways and Means committee.
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The Committee of Ways and Means is the chief tax-writing committee of the United States House of Representatives. Members of the Ways and Means Committee are not allowed to serve on any other House Committees unless they apply for a waiver from their party's congressional leadership. The Committee has jurisdiction over all taxation, tariffs, and other revenue-raising measures, as well as a number of other programs including:

The U.S. Constitution requires that all bills regarding taxation must originate in the House of Representatives. Since House procedure is that all bills regarding taxation must go through this committee, the committee is very influential, as is its Senate counterpart, the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance.

Recent chairs have been Charlie Rangel, Pete Stark, and Sander Levin. The committee is currently chaired by Dave Camp.


The idea of a "Committee of Ways and Means" to handle the financial matters of a legislature is an old one, having been used in the British Parliament and the colonial and early state legislatures in America.

The Committee was first established during the first Congress, in 1789. However, this initial version was disbanded after only 8 weeks; for the next several years, only ad hoc committees were formed, to write up laws on notions already debated in the whole House. It was first established as a standing committee by resolution adopted December 21, 1795,[1] and first appeared among the list of regular standing committees on January 7, 1802.[2] Upon its original creation, it held power over both taxes and spending, until the spending power was given to the new Appropriations Committee in 1865.

During the Civil War the key policy-maker in Congress was Thaddeus Stevens, as chairman of the Committee and Republican floor leader. He took charge of major legislation that funded the war effort and permanently transformed the nation's economic policies regarding tariffs, bonds, income and excise taxes, national banks, suppression of money issued by state banks, greenback currency, and western railroad land grants.[3] Stevens was one of the major policymakers regarding Reconstruction, and obtained a House vote of impeachment against President Andrew Johnson (who was acquitted by the Senate in 1868). Hans Trefousse, his leading biographer, concludes that Stevens "was one of the most influential representatives ever to serve in Congress. [He dominated] the House with his wit, knowledge of parliamentary law, and sheer willpower, even though he was often unable to prevail."[4] Historiographical views of Stevens have dramatically shifted over the years, from the early 20th-century view of Stevens and the Radical Republicans as tools of big business and motivated by hatred of the white South, to the perspective of the neoabolitionists of the 1950s and afterwards, who applauded their efforts to give equal rights to the freed slaves.

Three future presidents - James Polk, Millard Fillmore, and William McKinley - served as Committee Chairman. Before the official roles of floor leader came about in the late 19th century, the Chairman of Ways and Means was considered the Majority Leader. The Chairman is one of very few Representatives to have office space within the Capitol building itself.

Political significance[edit]

Because of its wide jurisdiction, Ways and Means has always been one of the most important committees with respect to impact on policy. Although it lacks the prospects for re-election help that comes with the Appropriations Committee, it is seen as a valuable post for two reasons. First, since its range is so broad, members with a wide array of policy concerns often seek positions, simply to be able to influence policy decisions. Some recent major issues that have gone through this committee include welfare reform, a Medicare prescription drug benefit, Social Security reform, George W. Bush's tax cuts, and trade agreements including the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). Second, given the wide array of interests that are affected by the committee, a seat makes it very easy to collect campaign contributions.[5]

Until 1974, the Ways and Means Committee decided which chairmanships newly elected members of Congress would have, along with its regular financial duties.[6] When Ways and Means chair Wilbur Mills' career ended in scandal, Congressman Phillip Burton transferred the committee's selection powers to a separate, newly created committee.[6]

Members, 113th Congress[edit]


Subcommittees, 113th Congress[edit]

There are six subcommittees in the 113th Congress. In 2011, the Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support was renamed the Subcommittee on Human Resources, returning to the name it held prior to the 110th Congress.[7]

SubcommitteeChairRanking Member
TradeDevin Nunes (R-CA)Charles B. Rangel (D-NY)
Social SecuritySam Johnson (R-TX)Xavier Becerra (D-CA)
OversightCharles Boustany (R-LA)John Lewis (D-GA)
HealthKevin Brady (R-TX)Jim McDermott (D-WA)
Human ResourcesDave Reichert (R-WA)Lloyd Doggett (D-TX)
Select Revenue MeasuresPat Tiberi (R-OH)Richard Neal (D-MA)


#ChairPartyStateStart of ServiceEnd of Service
1Thomas FitzsimonsFederalistPA17891789
2William L. SmithFederalistSC17941797
3Robert G. HarperFederalistSC17971800
4Roger GriswoldFederalistCT18001801
5John RandolphDemocratic-RepublicanVA18011805
6Joseph ClayDemocratic-RepublicanPA18051807
7George W. CampbellDemocratic-RepublicanTN18071809
8John W. EppesDemocratic-RepublicanVA18091811
9Ezekiel BaconDemocratic-RepublicanSC18111812
10Langdon ChevesDemocratic-RepublicanSC18121813
11John W. EppesDemocratic-RepublicanVA18131815
12William LowndesDemocratic-RepublicanSC18151818
13Samuel SmithDemocratic-RepublicanMD18181822
14Louis McLaneDemocratic-RepublicanDE18221827
15John RandolphDemocraticVA18271827
16George McDuffieDemocraticSC18271832
17Gulian C. VerplanckDemocraticNY18321833
18James K. PolkDemocraticTN18331835
19Churchill C. CambrelengDemocraticNY18351839
20John W. JonesDemocraticVA18391841
21Millard FillmoreWhigNY18411843
22James I. McKayDemocraticNC18431847
23Samuel F. VintonWhigOH18471849
24Thomas H. BaylyDemocraticVA18491851
25George S. HoustonDemocraticAL18511855
26Lewis D. CampbellRepublicanOH18561857
27J. Glancy JonesDemocraticPA18571858
28John S. PhelpsDemocraticMO18581859
29John ShermanRepublicanOH18601861
30Thaddeus StevensRepublicanPA18611865
31Justin MorrillRepublicanVT18651867
32Robert C. SchenckRepublicanOH18671871
33Samuel HooperRepublicanMA18711871
34Henry L. DawesRepublicanMA18711875
35William R. MorrisonDemocraticIL18751877
36Fernando WoodDemocraticNY18771881
37John R. TuckerDemocraticVA18811881
38William D. KelleyRepublicanPA18811883
39William R. MorrisonDemocraticIL18831887
40Roger Q. MillsDemocraticTX18871889
41William McKinleyRepublicanOH18891891
42William M. SpringerDemocraticIL18911893
43William L. WilsonDemocraticWV18931895
44Nelson Dingley, Jr.RepublicanME18951899
45Sereno E. PayneRepublicanNY18991911
46Oscar W. UnderwoodDemocraticAL19111915
47Claude KitchinDemocraticNC19151919
48Joseph FordneyRepublicanMI19191923
49William R. GreenRepublicanIA19231928
50Willis C. HawleyRepublicanOR19281931
51James W. CollierDemocraticMS19311933
52Robert L. DoughtonDemocraticNC19331947
53Harold KnutsonRepublicanMN19471949
54Robert L. DoughtonDemocraticNC19491953
55Daniel A. ReedRepublicanNY19531955
56Jere CooperDemocraticTN19551957
57Wilbur MillsDemocraticAR19571975
Al Ullman (acting)DemocraticOR19731975
58Al UllmanDemocraticOR19751981
59Dan RostenkowskiDemocraticIL19811994
Sam Gibbons (acting)DemocraticFL19941995
60Bill ArcherRepublicanTX19952001
61Bill ThomasRepublicanCA20012007
62Charles RangelDemocraticNY20072010
Sander Levin (acting)DemocraticMI20102011
63Dave CampRepublicanMI2011present

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ways and Means Bicentennial History, Page 38
  2. ^ Ways and Means Bicentennial History, Page 58
  3. ^ Heather Cox Richardson (1997). The Greatest Nation of the Earth: Republican Economic Policies During the Civil War. Harvard University Press. pp. 9, 41, 52, 111, 116, 120, 182, 202. 
  4. ^ Hans L. Trefousse (1991). Historical Dictionary of Reconstruction. Greenwood. p. 214. 
  5. ^ Grier, Kevin; Munger, Michael (1991). "Committee Assignments, Constituent Preferences and Campaign Contributions". Economic Inquiry 29 (1): 24–43. doi:10.1111/j.1465-7295.1991.tb01250.x. 
  6. ^ a b Frum, David (2000). How We Got Here: The '70s. New York, New York: Basic Books. pp. 276–279. ISBN 0-465-04195-7. 
  7. ^ "Chairman Camp Announces Republican Membership on Ways & Means Subcommittees for 113th Congress". January 15, 2013. Retrieved 2013-01-22. 

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