WHAT IS Energy And Commerce Committee

The Energy and Commerce Committee is a legislative committee within the United States Congress. The committee was established in 1795, making it the oldest standing committee within the U.S. House of Representatives.

The committee has extremely broad legislative jurisdiction. The Energy and Commerce Committee today operates several subcommittees. These include subcommittees on communications and technology, digital commerce and consumer protection, energy, environment, health and oversight and investigations.

BREAKING DOWN Energy And Commerce Committee

The Energy and Commerce Committee oversees a number of cabinet-level departments within the government, as well as independent agencies. Some of these include the Department of Energy, The Department of Health and Human Services, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Trade Commission, the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Communications Commission.

Currently, the committee has 55 members, including 31 republicans and 24 democrats. The committee’s chair is Greg Walden, a republican representative from Oregon. The committee’s ranking member is Frank Pallone, a democratic representative from New Jersey.

Origin of the Energy and Commerce Committee

The Energy and Commerce Committee was first established as the Committee on Commerce and Manufactures. The U.S. government initially created the committee in order to regulate commerce between the states and with foreign governments. However, by 1819, the committee’s jurisdiction had expanded significantly, and it became the Committee on Commerce.  In 1891, the committee’s name changed again when it became the Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce. In 1981, the committee finally became the Energy and Commerce Committee, emphasizing its more recent role in shaping the country’s energy policy.

The Energy and Commerce Committee in the news

In May 2018, the Energy and Commerce Committee marked up legislation to combat the opioid crisis in the U.S. This markup has been part of a two-track push by the committee to fight the opioid crisis though legislation and investigation into the crisis’ root causes. Some bills examined by the committee have proposed ways to improve patient safety, bolster enforcement of drug laws, prevent addiction and address coverage and payment issues within the Medicaid and Medicare systems.

In 2018, the committee also held a hearing to examine the latest technology available to help fight automated phone calls, commonly referred to as robocalls. The technology could also help stop other nuisances, such as telemarketing scams and caller ID spoofing.

Also in 2018, the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations announced that it would hold a hearing with executives from the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), the U.S. Center for SafeSport and other organizations in order to help combat sexual abuse within the U.S. Olympic community. This followed highly publicized reports of rampant sexual abuse of Olympic athletes by doctors and coaches, with universities and the USOC coming under fire for having potentially covered up the abuse.