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Committee of Ways and Means is the chief tax-writing committee of the United States House of Representatives. Members of the Ways and Means Committee cannot serve on any other House Committees, though they can apply for a waiver from their party's congressional leadership. The Committee has jurisdiction over all taxation, tariffs and other revenue-raising measures, as well as a number of other programs including:

The U.S. Constitution requires that all bills regarding taxation must originate in the House of Representatives, and House procedure is that all bills regarding taxation must go through this committee. These stipulations make this House committee particularly powerful, especially in comparison with its Senate counterpart, the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance.

The Ways and Means Committee in the 111th Congress is chaired by Representative Charles Rangel of New Yorkmarker, whose political strength is weakened as the House investigates his alleged ethics violations and calls have increased for him to step down from chairing the powerful committee, at least while the investigation continues. Next in line behind Rangel to chair the Ways and Means Committee is Representative Pete Stark of Californiamarker.


The idea of a "Committee of Ways and Means" to handle the financial matters of a legislature is older than the Federal Congress, having been used in the English Parliament and the colonial and State legislatures in America.

The 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, and first appeared among the list of regular standing committees on January 7, 1802. 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.

The Chairman of Ways and Means has always been one of the most powerful members of Congress. No one was more aggressive in wielding its power than Thaddeus Stevens, the Republican chairman during the Civil War and Reconstruction. 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 only seven representatives to have office space within the Capitol building itself (the others being Speaker, Majority Leader and Minority Leader, Majority Whip and Minority Whip, and Appropriations Committee chairman).


Ways and Means has always been one of the most important committees in a policy sense, due to its wide jurisdiction. While it lacks the prospects for re-election help that comes with the Appropriations Committee, it is seen as a valuable post for two reasons. First, since its range is so broad, members with a wide array of policy concerns often seek positions, simply to be able to influence policy decisions. Major issues that have gone through this committee read like a laundry list of important bills, including welfare reform, a Medicare prescription drug benefit, Social Security reform, President George W. Bush's tax cuts, and all trade agreements, including the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). Second, given the wide array of interests that are affected by the committee, a seat makes it very easy to collect campaign contributions.

Until 1974, the Ways and Means Committee decided which chairmanships newly elected members of Congress would have, along with its regular financial duties. 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.

Members, 111th Congress

The committee chairman is Charlie Rangel of New Yorkmarker, and the ranking member is Dave Camp of Michiganmarker. Camp replaces former Representative Jim McCrery of Louisianamarker, who retired at the end of the 110th Congress.

Majority Minority

  • electing majority members to standing committees.
  • electing minority members to standing committees.


There are six subcommittees in the 111th Congress

Subcommittee Chair Ranking Member
Trade Sander Levin (D-MI) Kevin Brady (R-TX)
Oversight John Lewis (D-GA) Charles W. Boustany, Jr. (R-LA)
Health Pete Stark (D-CA) Wally Herger (R-CA)
Social Security John Tanner (D-TN) Sam Johnson (R-TX)
Income Security and Family Support Jim McDermott (D-WA) John Linder (R-GA)
Select Revenue Measures Richard Neal (D-MA) Pat Tiberi (R-OH)


# 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 Democratic-Republican 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

58 Al Ullman Democratic OR 1975 1981

59 Dan Rostenkowski Democratic IL 1981 1994

60 Sam Gibbons Democratic FL 1994 1995

61 Bill Archer Republican TX 1995 2001

62 Bill Thomas Republican CA 2001 2007

63 Charles Rangel Democratic NY 2007 present

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