Neal Remarks at Ways & Means Organizational Meeting
(As prepared for delivery)
I am honored to be the Chairman of this historic committee.
Established in 1789, the Ways and Means Committee is rooted in our nation as the oldest standing congressional Committee. In fact, this year marks the 230th anniversary of the committee’s establishment at Federal Hall in New York City.
I am proud to follow in the footsteps of the first Chairman, Thomas Fitzsimmons of Philadelphia.
Eight U.S. Presidents have been on this committee, including: James Madison, Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk, Millard Fillmore, James Garfield, William McKinley and George H.W. Bush.
In addition, eight members of the committee have gone on to become Vice Presidents, 22 members became Speaker of the House, and four became Supreme Court Justices.
Much of the jurisdiction of the Ways and Means Committee comes directly from the Constitution. Article I, Section VII states, “All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives.” No other Committee can say that.
Going into our 230th year, I look forward to identifying ways to build on this history as we promote policies that will put our nation on a sustainable path forward.
From taxes to Social Security and retirement security to trade to health care and social services – these issues have a significant impact on the lives of all Americans. And I hope we will use this opportunity to work hard to improve the lives of middle-class families in this country.
It is also critical that we return to regular order. The Ways and Means Committee will engage in meaningful debate and inquiry on every issue that comes before us.
That includes hearings and meetings with experts from differing perspectives. And then we’ll mark-up legislation and move it through the committee.
I hope that we can do a lot of this work on a bipartisan basis. For any legislation before this committee, I will do my best to first try to find common ground. And my hope is that we will have a number of bipartisan achievements.
In terms of my priorities as Chairman, I plan to focus on: strengthening Americans’ retirement security; lowering health care costs, including prescription drug prices; and ensuring the tax system benefits middle-income Americans and small businesses.
Another issue requiring our attention is America’s infrastructure. We must ensure our infrastructure systems are both safe and efficient – it’s essential for our global competitiveness.
We’ll also closely examine the Republicans’ tax law and its various problems. So we’ll be conducting thorough oversight of this law – oversight that frankly is well overdue.
Again, I hope that we can do much of this work on a bipartisan basis. I consider Ranking Member Brady a good friend and I hope that we can continue to work collaboratively.
Before handing it over to the Ranking Member, I’d like to welcome our new members – on both the Democratic and Republican-side. I look forward to working with each of you. On the Democratic-side, our new members include: Gwen Moore from Wisconsin; Dan Kildee from Michigan; Brendan Boyle from Pennsylvania; Don Beyer from Virginia; Dwight Evans from Pennsylvania; Brad Schneider from Illinois; Tom Suozzi from New York; Jimmy Panetta from California; Stephanie Murphy from Florida; Jimmy Gomez from California; and Steven Horsford from Nevada.
With that, I turn it over to Ranking Member Brady for his opening statement.