Key Congressional Committees
Committees are essential to the legislative process in Congress. Each committee has jurisdiction over a certain set of issues and the members of that committee get the first crack at revising and voting on a bill. Visit the key committees’ websites to find out if your members of Congress serve on one of the below committees, because their voice may be a powerful one for promoting mental health and substance use disorder policies.
Senate Appropriations Committee
The largest committee in the US Senate, the Appropriations Committee writes legislation that allocates federal discretionary funds to the different government agencies, departments, and organizations, including the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. As just one example, funding for the Primary Care/Behavioral Health Integration program goes through the Appropriations Committee before becoming available.
Senate Finance Committee
This committee handles a number of issues related to health programs that are financed by a specific tax or trust fund, including Medicaid, Medicare, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Any Senate bill that is related to taxes has to come through this committee.
Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee
As indicated in the name, this committee has jurisdiction over the country’s health care (except for the health care programs under the finance committee’s jurisdiction) and oversees public health and health insurance statutes to address changing patterns in the health care industry. The committee reviews all matters related to health care and reports on these issues to Congress.
House Appropriations Committee
Similar to the Senate Appropriations Committee, this committee is responsible for deciding how the federal government spends money and which programs will be funded.
House Energy and Commerce Committee
This committee maintains legislative oversight in a multitude of areas including public health, environmental health, and telecommunications. Its jurisdiction extends over several agencies, including the US Department of Health and Human Services. It also has jurisdiction over Medicaid and parts of Medicare.
House Ways and Means Committee
The Ways and Means Committee is responsible for writing taxes and has jurisdiction over Social Security, Medicare, and enforcement of child support laws, to name a few. Similar to the Senate Committee on Finance, any House bill that has anything to do with taxation must come through this committee, so it’s pretty influential. It also has jurisdiction over Medicare.
House Committee on Education and the Workforce
As you can probably tell from the name, this committee has jurisdiction over all things related to education and labor. This includes access to quality health care for working families, services for at-risk youth, and programs for low-income populations.