Fun Facts About the House Energy and Commerce Committee

Posted March 12, 2010 at 4:08pm

• It is the oldest standing committee in the House, created as the Committee on Commerce and Manufacturers and Agriculture on Dec. 14, 1795 (Ways and Means became a standing committee a week later; however, it was created as a special select committee in 1789).

• Rep. Benjamin Goodhue, a Federalist from Massachusetts, was the first chairman.

• In 1819, the panel became known as the Committee on Commerce. In 1891, its name changed again to the Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce. In 1981, the committee took on its current name.

• Rep. Elihu Washburne (R-Ill.), who later had a brief stint as secretary of State under President Ulysses S. Grant, served as committee chairman from 1855 to 1857 and from 1859 to 1869. Two of his brothers also served as House committee chairmen.

• Rep. Sam Rayburn (D-Texas), who later became Speaker, served as chairman from 1931 to 1937.

• Rep. Harley Staggers Sr. (D-W.Va.), who served from 1966 to 1981, and Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), who held the gavel from 1981 to 1995 and again from 2007 to 2009, are the longest-serving chairmen in the committee’s history. Dingell remains chairman emeritus.

• The committee has a broad portfolio that includes commerce, public health, energy and technology.

Sources: House Energy and Commerce Committee, House Historian’s Office