Committee on Ways and Means
117th United States Congress
Seal of the U.S. House of Representatives
Flag of the United States House of Representatives
Committee seal
FoundedDecember 21, 1795 (1795-12-21)
New session started
January 3, 2021 (2021-01-03)
Richard Neal (D)
since January 3, 2019
Ranking Member
Kevin Brady (R)
since January 3, 2019
Seats42 members
Political groups
Majority (Democratic)
  •   Democratic (25)
Minority (Republican)
Website Edit this at Wikidata

The Committee on Ways and Means is the chief tax-writing committee of the United States House of Representatives. The committee has jurisdiction over all taxation, tariffs, and other revenue-raising measures, as well as a number of other programs including Social Security, unemployment benefits, Medicare, the enforcement of child support laws, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, foster care, and adoption programs. Members of the Ways and Means Committee are not allowed to serve on any other House Committee unless they are granted a waiver from their party's congressional leadership. It has long been regarded as the most prestigious committee of the House of Representatives.[1]

The United States Constitution requires that all bills regarding taxation must originate in the U.S. House of Representatives, and House rules dictate that all bills regarding taxation must pass through Ways and Means. This system imparts upon the committee and its members a significant degree of influence over other representatives, committees, and public policy. Its Senate counterpart is the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance.

Recent chairmen have included Bill Thomas, Charlie Rangel, Sander Levin, Dave Camp, Paul Ryan and Kevin Brady. On January 3, 2019, Richard Neal was sworn in as the new Chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means, upon the commencement of the 116th Congress.[2] He used his authority as chairman to formally request the tax returns of President Trump in April 2019, after Democrats had signaled their intention to do so on the midterms election night.


Inside a Ways and Means meeting in November 2019.
Inside a Ways and Means meeting in November 2019.

The Ways and Means 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,[3] and first appeared among the list of regular standing committees on January 7, 1802.[4] 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.[5]

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.[6] 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 L. 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."[7] 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 enormous 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.[citation needed]

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.[8]

Political significance

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 reelection help that comes with the Appropriations Committee, it is seen as a valuable post for two reasons: given the wide array of interests that are affected by the committee, a seat makes it easy to collect campaign contributions[9] and since its range is broad, members with a wide array of policy concerns often seek positions to be able to influence policy decisions. Some recent major issues that have gone through the Ways and Means 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).

From 1911 to 1974, the Ways and Means Committee also had the responsibility to appoint members of other committees in addition to its legislative dutiesi[10] 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.[10]

Members, 117th Congress

Majority Minority

Resolutions electing members: H.Res. 9 (Chair), H.Res. 10 (Ranking Member), H.Res. 62 (D), H.Res. 63 (R), H.Res. 875 (R), H.Res. 1159 (R)


There are six subcommittees in the 116th 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 United States Congress.[11] In 2015, the Select Revenue Measures was renamed the Subcommittee on Tax Policy.[12] In 2019 these two subcommittees were again renamed under Democratic control; Human Resources became Worker and Family Support and Tax Policy was renamed to Select Revenue Measures.

Subcommittee Chair Ranking Member
Health Lloyd Doggett (D–TX) Vern Buchanan (R–FL)
Oversight Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) Tom Rice (R-SC)
Select Revenue Measures Mike Thompson (D-CA) Mike Kelly (R–PA)
Social Security John B. Larson (D-CT) Tom Reed (R-NY)
Trade Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) Adrian Smith (R–NE)
Worker and Family Support Danny K. Davis (D–IL) Vacant

List of chairs

# Chair Party State Start of service End of service
1 Thomas Fitzsimons Federalist PA 1789 1789
2 William L. Smith Federalist SC 1794 1797
3 Robert G. Harper Federalist SC 1797 1800
4 Roger Griswold Federalist CT 1800 1801
5 John Randolph Democratic-Republican VA 1801 1805
6 Joseph Clay Democratic-Republican PA 1805 1807
7 George W. Campbell Democratic-Republican TN 1807 1809
8 John W. Eppes Democratic-Republican VA 1809 1811
9 Ezekiel Bacon Democratic-Republican SC 1811 1812
10 Langdon Cheves Democratic-Republican SC 1812 1813
11 John W. Eppes Democratic-Republican VA 1813 1815
12 William Lowndes Democratic-Republican SC 1815 1818
13 Samuel Smith Democratic-Republican MD 1818 1822
14 Louis McLane Federalist DE 1822 1827
15 John Randolph Democratic VA 1827 1827
16 George McDuffie Democratic SC 1827 1832
17 Gulian C. Verplanck Democratic NY 1832 1833
18 James K. Polk Democratic TN 1833 1835
19 Churchill C. Cambreleng Democratic NY 1835 1839
20 John W. Jones Democratic VA 1839 1841
21 Millard Fillmore Whig NY 1841 1843
22 James I. McKay Democratic NC 1843 1847
23 Samuel F. Vinton Whig OH 1847 1849
24 Thomas H. Bayly Democratic VA 1849 1851
25 George S. Houston Democratic AL 1851 1855
26 Lewis D. Campbell Republican OH 1856 1857
27 J. Glancy Jones Democratic PA 1857 1858
28 John S. Phelps Democratic MO 1858 1859
29 John Sherman Republican OH 1860 1861
30 Thaddeus Stevens Republican PA 1861 1865
31 Justin Morrill Republican VT 1865 1867
32 Robert C. Schenck Republican OH 1867 1871
33 Samuel Hooper Republican MA 1871 1871
34 Henry L. Dawes Republican MA 1871 1875
35 William R. Morrison Democratic IL 1875 1877
36 Fernando Wood Democratic NY 1877 1881
37 John R. Tucker Democratic VA 1881 1881
38 William D. Kelley Republican PA 1881 1883
39 William R. Morrison Democratic IL 1883 1887
40 Roger Q. Mills Democratic TX 1887 1889
41 William McKinley Republican OH 1889 1891
42 William M. Springer Democratic IL 1891 1893
43 William L. Wilson Democratic WV 1893 1895
44 Nelson Dingley, Jr. Republican ME 1895 1899
45 Sereno E. Payne Republican NY 1899 1911
46 Oscar W. Underwood Democratic AL 1911 1915
47 Claude Kitchin Democratic NC 1915 1919
48 Joseph Fordney Republican MI 1919 1923
49 William R. Green Republican IA 1923 1928
50 Willis C. Hawley Republican OR 1928 1931
51 James W. Collier Democratic MS 1931 1933
52 Robert L. Doughton Democratic NC 1933 1947
53 Harold Knutson Republican MN 1947 1949
54 Robert L. Doughton Democratic NC 1949 1953
55 Daniel A. Reed Republican NY 1953 1955
56 Jere Cooper Democratic TN 1955 1957
57 Wilbur Mills Democratic AR 1957 1975
Al Ullman (acting) Democratic OR 1973 1975
58 Al Ullman Democratic OR 1975 1981
59 Dan Rostenkowski Democratic IL 1981 1994
Sam Gibbons (acting) Democratic FL 1994 1995
60 Bill Archer Republican TX 1995 2001
61 Bill Thomas Republican CA 2001 2007
62 Charles Rangel Democratic NY 2007 2010
Pete Stark (acting) Democratic CA 2010 2010
63 Sander Levin (acting) Democratic MI 2010 2011
64 Dave Camp Republican MI 2011 2015
65 Paul Ryan Republican WI 2015 2015
66 Kevin Brady Republican TX 2015 2019
67 Richard Neal Democratic MA 2019 Present

Historical membership rosters

116th Congress

Majority Minority

Resolutions electing members: H.Res. 7 (Chair); H.Res. 8 (Ranking Member), H.Res. 42 (D), H.Res. 68 (R)

Subcommittee Chair Ranking Member
Health Lloyd Doggett (D–TX) Devin Nunes (R–CA)
Worker and Family Support Danny K. Davis (D–IL) Jackie Walorski (R–IN)
Oversight Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) Mike Kelly (R–PA)
Select Revenue Measures Mike Thompson (D-CA) Adrian Smith (R–NE)
Social Security John B. Larson (D-CT) Tom Reed (R-NY)
Trade Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) Vern Buchanan (R–FL)

115th Congress

Majority Minority

See also


  1. ^ "Panic Rooms, Birth Certificates and the Birth of GOP Paranoia". Politico.
  2. ^ Herb, Jeremy (January 1, 2019). "The 5 House chairs who are about to make life much harder for Trump". CNN. Retrieved January 21, 2019.
  3. ^ "Ways and Means Bicentennial History, Page 38" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on September 23, 2008. Retrieved March 12, 2007.
  4. ^ "Ways and Means Bicentennial History, Page 58" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on September 10, 2008. Retrieved March 12, 2007.
  5. ^ Cannon, J. M., Time and Chance: Gerald Ford's Appointment with History (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1994), p. 58.
  6. ^ 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. ISBN 9780674059658.
  7. ^ Trefousse, H. L. (1991). Historical Dictionary of Reconstruction. Greenwood. p. 214. ISBN 9780313258626.
  8. ^ Schraufnagel, S., Historical Dictionary of the U.S. Congress (Lanham: The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 2011), p. 239 Archived February 13, 2021, at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ a b Committee on Ways and Means (1989). A Bicentennial History, 1789-1989. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. pp. 215, 354, 355. ISBN 0-465-04195-7.
  11. ^ "Chairman Camp Announces Republican Membership on Ways & Means Subcommittees for 113th Congress". January 15, 2013. Retrieved January 22, 2013.
  12. ^ "Chairman Brady Announces Republican Subcommittee Chairs, Members". November 18, 2015. Retrieved November 18, 2015.


Further reading