Key Committees

With 535 Members of the U.S. House and Senate, it is impossible for every Senator and Representative to know everything about every issue that goes before Congress. That is why committee assignments are very important to the legislative process. Members assigned to specific committees are tasked with learning about and crafting legislation and proposals on the issues that fall within the jurisdiction of the committee(s). Because the majority of the substantive legislative work is done at the committee level, understanding who serves on “key” committees that impact insurance agents and financial advisors is extremely important.

Below is a list of the key committees that NAIFA works with in Congress. Although this list is not exhaustive of every single committee with which NAIFA works, the list is a guide for NAIFA members to understand who in Congress currently has the most influence over the issues that matter to your business. If your Member of Congress or Senators are not on any of these committees, please keep in mind that committee assignments change every Congress and ultimately every one of them has a vote on legislation that goes to the House or Senate floor. Finally, if you are represented by a member of the House or Senate Leadership, be aware that they have significant influence over all issues that go before Congress.

View List of House Leadership
View List of Senate Leadership

U.S. House of Representatives

House Ways & Means Committee

Among the most powerful of Congress’ standing committees, Ways & Means has jurisdiction over all tax, trade, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security issues. That means this committee touches every life insurance, annuity, health insurance, long-term care insurance, pension, employer-provided benefit, estate, gift and trust tax rule. The Constitution requires that all revenue (tax) bills originate in the House—and in the House they all originate at the Ways & Means Committee. Ways & Means has done and will do all past, present and future tax, health and estate tax reform bills.
 

House Committee on Financial Services

This Committee has jurisdiction over federal consideration of legislation that could impact most life insurance, property/casualty insurance, and securities. The Committee examines the regulation of insurers and insurance products, and securities products as well as those who sell the products. This Committee has oversight authority over the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Department of Treasury, and the Federal Reserve. The Committee also has jurisdiction over the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
 
 

House Committee on Energy & Commerce

This Committee plays a large role in the crafting of health care legislation. The Ways & Means Committee often works with the Energy & Commerce Committee (E&C) to develop changes to health care law. E&C’s jurisdiction includes oversight of the Department of Health and Human Services—the regulatory body that oversees the health industry.
 

House Education & Workforce Committee

The Committee, which is called the Education & Labor Committee when the Democrats control the House, has jurisdiction over all matters dealing with relationships between employers and employees. These include employment-related health and retirement security issues, such as pensions, health care insurance, and other employee benefits as well as the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). This Committee also has oversight jurisdiction over the Department of Labor.
 

U.S. Senate

Senate Finance Committee

The Finance Committee is the Senate’s counterpart to the House Ways & Means Committee. Its jurisdiction is similarly broad—no law is enacted without approval by both the House and Senate, and the Finance Committee determines the scope of every tax bill the Senate votes on. In addition to income tax rates, the tax-writing committees (Ways & Means and Finance) write the special tax rules (tax expenditures) that govern life insurance, annuities, health insurance, pensions, long-term care insurance, employer-provided benefits, estate & gift tax rules, rules governing trusts, corporate use of life insurance (buy-sell, business continuation, employee benefits), etc. The Finance Committee is among the most powerful of the Senate’s standing committees.
 

Senate Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs Committee

Like the House Financial Services Committee, this Committee has jurisdiction over federal consideration of legislation that could impact most life insurance, property/casualty insurance, and securities. The Committee examines the regulation of insurers and insurance products, and securities products as well as those who sell the products. This Committee has oversight authority over the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Department of Treasury, and the Federal Reserve. The Committee also has jurisdiction over the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
 

Senate Health, Education, & Labor & Pensions Committee

This Committee, commonly called the “HELP” Committee has jurisdiction similar to both the House Energy & Commerce Committee and the House Education & the Workforce Committee. Together with the Senate Finance Committee, the HELP Committee has a major role in the crafting of health care legislation. In addition, the committee has jurisdiction over employment-related health and retirement security issues, such as pensions, health care insurance, and other employee benefits as well as the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). The committee also has oversight jurisdiction over both the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Labor.
 

Understanding Key Committees (PDF)