House Energy and Commerce Committee Through the Ages

Posted January 30, 2009 at 12:49pm

The House Energy and Commerce Committee dates back to the 18th century — and no, Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) wasn’t on it back then. But Dingell is one of the many storied names of Members who have served on the committee, a list that includes former chairman (and later Speaker) Sam Rayburn (D-Texas).




1795

The House establishes the Commerce and Manufactures Committee as a standing committee.

1819

Committee spins off jurisdiction for manufacturing. Panel becomes known as the Commerce Committee for the first time.

1891

Congress renames the panel the Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee.

1931

Rep. Sam Rayburn assumes the chairmanship. During his tenure, Rayburn champions the implementation of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal program.

1935

Committee cedes jurisdiction over the Coast Guard, lighthouses, maritime transportation and the Panama Canal to the Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee, while gaining explicit jurisdiction over radio communications.

1946

The Legislative Reorganization Act clarifies the committee’s jurisdiction over interstate and foreign commerce.

1957

Rep. John Dingell joins the committee.

1975

Committee gains jurisdiction over consumer protection and health issues, with the exception of Medicare. The panel cedes responsibility for civil aeronautics to the Public Works and Transportation Committee.

1981

Dingell assumes the chairmanship of the newly renamed Energy and Commerce Committee.

1995

Rep. Thomas Bliley Jr. (R-Va.) becomes chairman of the renamed Commerce Committee as Republicans rise to power in the House. The committee cedes jurisdiction over interstate commerce issues related to railroads and general labor relations.

2001

Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.) becomes chairman, and the committee name returns to the Energy and Commerce Committee. A new House rules package transfers the jurisdiction of the securities and insurance industry to the Financial Services Committee.

2004

Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) becomes chairman upon Tauzin’s resignation. Tauzin soon becomes president and chief executive officer of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.

2007

Democrats regain the House majority and Dingell takes back the committee gavel.

2008

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) defeats Dingell in a party vote to become chairman for the 111th Congress.