2019: A Year of Action and Accomplishments for Ways and Means Committee Democrats
WASHINGTON, DC – After assuming the majority in the House of Representatives in January, Democrats in the Ways and Means Committee worked tirelessly this year to advance measures that support Americans’ financial security, health, and wellbeing. A few of the Committee’s notable achievements in 2019 include:
Lowering Drug Prices and Leveling the Playing Field
- After years of congressional inaction on the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs, the Ways and Means Committee passed H.R. 3, the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, which allows the HHS Secretary to negotiate lower prescription prices and caps Medicare beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket spending on prescription drugs at $2,000. The legislation also fills a significant gap in Medicare, adding hearing, dental, and vision coverage to the program. The House of Representatives passed the legislation on December 12.
Supporting U.S. Workers, Patients, and Families through a Transformative Trade Agreement
- On December 19, the House of Representatives passed legislation to implement the United States Mexico Canada Agreement, a bill that was the culmination of months of House Democrats’ work to transform the new NAFTA into a deal that respects the dignity of workers, contains meaningful enforcement provisions, and prioritizes environmental protection and remediation.
Strengthening Retirement Security
- As part of the end-of-year spending package, the House and Senate passed the SECURE Act, bipartisan Ways and Means legislation that expands opportunities for Americans to increase their retirement savings.
Protecting Workers and Retirees
- The Ways and Means Committee and the full House of Representatives passed the Rehabilitation for Multiemployer Pensions Act, legislation commonly referred to as the Butch Lewis Act. More than a million Americans participate in multiemployer pension plans that are quickly running out of money. This bipartisan legislation addresses the worsening crisis that threatens the retirement savings of workers and retirees who – year after year – gave up wage increases in order to fund their pension plans.
Investing in the U.S. Workforce, Families, and Economy
- Ways and Means Democrats passed the most significant pro-work, poverty-reducing tax bill in at least a decade for residents of all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and other U.S. territories. The Economic Mobility Act provides an important economic boost for middle-class families who continue to struggle in this economy.
Reforming the IRS for Taxpayers
- President Trump signed into law bipartisan Ways and Means legislation to redesign the Internal Revenue Service for the first time in over two decades. The Taxpayer First Act included new protections for low-income taxpayers, practical enforcement reforms, and upgraded assistance for taxpayers and small businesses.
Increasing Drug Pricing Transparency
- In an effort to address the high cost of prescription drugs, the Ways and Means Committee passed the bipartisan Prescription Drug STAR Act, legislation that brings sunlight across the health care supply chain, from pharmaceutical manufacturers to pharmacy benefit managers, to help reduce costs for families.
Preparing Workers for Good Health Care Job Opportunities
- The Ways and Means Committee passed H.R. 3398, the Pathways to Health Careers Act of 2019, which funds the Health Profession Opportunity Grant (HPOG) program. HPOGs are a proven approach to train workers for in-demand health jobs while providing key work supports like child care and transportation.
Combatting the Opioid Crisis
- In an effort to address the opioid epidemic devastating communities across the country, the Committee passed H.R. 3414, a bill that increases the number of graduate medical education residency slots available to train addiction specialists – adding 1,000 new slots between now and 2026.
Bringing Respect, Dignity, and Fairness to the Tax Code
- Fifty years after the Stonewall riots, the House of Representatives passed Ways and Means legislation called the PRIDE Act which updates the tax code to clarify that all federal tax provisions respecting marriage will apply to legally married same-sex couples in the same manner as other married couples.
Reducing Youth Vaping
- The Ways and Means Committee passed bipartisan legislation to impose a nicotine excise tax, which would increase e-cigarette pricing in an effort to discourage youth and young adults from purchasing items like Juul pods.
Keeping More Families Together
- As part of the end-of-year spending package, the House and Senate both passed the Family First Transition Act, legislation introduced in the House by a bipartisan group of Ways and Means Committee members that helps states transform their child welfare systems to keep more children safely at home, instead of placing them in foster care.
Tackling Climate Change through the Tax Code
- Ways and Means Democrats put forward draft legislation – the GREEN Act – that is a comprehensive approach to tackling climate change using the tax code to extend and expand renewable energy use and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Ways and Means Committee Democrats led hearings on a variety of pressing issues that affect Americans’ lives. Topics addressed included:
- Protecting Patients from Surprise Medical Bills
- The Economic and Health Consequences of Climate Change
- The Public Health Consequences and Costs of Gun Violence
- Protecting and Improving Social Security
- Paid Family and Medical Leave: Helping Workers and Employers Succeed
- U.S.-China Trade
- Our Nation’s Crumbling Infrastructure and the Need for Immediate Action
- Protecting Americans with Pre-existing Conditions
- Overcoming Racial Disparities and Social Determinants in the Maternal Mortality Crisis
- Caring for Aging Americans
To learn more about Ways and Means Committee Democrats’ work, visit WaysandMeans.House.Gov.