Friday, January 22, 2010

JANUARY 15, 2010

When it comes to federal taxes, it all begins with the House Ways and Means Committee, chaired by Rep. Charles Rangel. It’s one of the most powerful Congressional Committees in Washington. The authority of Ways and Means is breathtaking when it comes to wealth produced by American citizens.

The FairTax also falls under the jurisdiction of the Ways and Means Committee. Because FairTax supporters are now pressuring Mr. Rangel through our petition to hold a hearing on the FairTax, click here to add your name, supporters may want to learn more about this committee.

Here are some of the enumerated authorities and duties of this powerful committee:

(1) Federal revenue measures generally --The Committee on Ways and Means has the responsibility for raising the revenue required to finance the Federal Government. This includes individual and corporate income taxes, excise taxes, estate taxes, gift taxes, and other miscellaneous taxes.

(2) The bonded debt of the United States --The Committee on Ways and Means has jurisdiction over the authority of the Federal Government to borrow money. Title 31 of Chapter 31 of the U.S. Code authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to conduct any necessary public borrowing subject to a maximum limit on the amount of borrowing outstanding at any one time. This statutory limit on the amount of public debt (“the debt ceiling”) currently is $8.18 trillion. The Committee’s jurisdiction also includes conditions under which the U.S. Department of the Treasury manages the Federal debt, such as restrictions on the conditions under which certain debt instruments are sold.

(3) National Social Security programs --The Committee on Ways and Means has jurisdiction over most of the programs authorized by the Social Security Act, which includes not only those programs that are normally referred to colloquially as “Social Security” but also social insurance programs and a whole series of grant-in-aid programs to State governments for a variety of purposes. The Social Security Act, as amended, contains 21 titles (a few of which have either expired or have been repealed).

(4) Trade and tariff legislation --The Committee on Ways and Means has responsibility over legislation relating to tariffs, import trade, and trade negotiations. In the early days of the Republic, tariff and customs receipts were major sources of revenue for the Federal Government. As the Committee with jurisdiction over revenue-raising measures, the Committee on Ways and Means thus evolved as the primary Committee responsible for international trade policy.

The Constitution vests the power to levy tariffs and to regulate international commerce specifically in the Congress as one of its enumerated powers. Any authority to regulate imports or to negotiate trade agreements must therefore be delegated to the executive branch through legislative action. Statutes including the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Acts beginning in 1934, Trade Expansion Act of 1962, Trade Act of 1974, Trade Agreements Act of 1979, Trade and Tariff Act of 1984, Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988, North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Implementation Act, Uruguay Round Agreements Act, and Trade Act of 2002 provide the basis for U.S. bargaining with other countries to achieve the mutual reduction of tariff and nontariff trade barriers under reciprocal trade agreements.

Revenue Originating Prerogative of the House of Representatives

The Constitutional Convention debated adopting the British model in which the House of Lords could not amend revenue legislation sent to it from the House of Commons. Eventually, however, the Convention proposed and the States later ratified the Constitution providing that “All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives, but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other bills.” (Article 1, Section 7, clause 1.)

In order to pass constitutional scrutiny under this “origination clause,” a tax bill must be passed first by the House of Representatives. After the House has completed action on a bill and approved it by a majority vote, the bill is transmitted to the Senate for formal action. The Senate may have already reviewed issues raised by the bill before its transmission. For example, the Senate Committee on Finance frequently holds hearings on tax legislative proposals before the legislation embodying those proposals is transmitted from the House of Representatives. On occasion, the Senate will consider a revenue bill in the form of a Senate or “S.” bill, and then await passage of a revenue “H.R.” bill from the House. The Senate then will add or substitute provisions of the “S.” bill as an amendment to the AH.R.@ bill and send the “H.R.” bill back to the House of Representatives for its concurrence or for conference on the differing provisions.

Membership on the Committee spans the nation. FairTax supporters will recognize the name of Rep. John Linder, the original co-sponsor of HR 25, the FairTax Act, as a member of Ways and Means.

Here are the Members of the 111th Congress, Ways and Means Committee:


Charles B. Rangel, NY Chairman
Fortney Pete Stark, CA
Sander M. Levin, MI
Jim McDermott, WA
John Lewis, GA
Richard E. Neal, MA
John S. Tanner, TN
Xavier Becerra, CA
Lloyd Doggett, TX
Earl Pomeroy, ND
Mike Thompson, CA
John B. Larson, CT
Earl Blumenauer, OR
Ron Kind, WI
Bill Pascrell, Jr. , NJ
Shelley Berkley, NV
Joseph Crowley, NY
Chris Van Hollen, MD
Kendrick Meek, FL
Allyson Y. Schwartz, PA
Artur Davis, AL
Danny K. Davis, IL
Bob Etheridge, NC
Linda T. Sanchez, CA
Brian Higgins, NY
John A. Yarmuth, KY


Dave Camp, MI
Wally Herger, CA
Sam Johnson, TX
◊ Kevin Brady, TX
Paul Ryan, WI
Eric Can tor, VA
◊ John Linder, GA
Devin Nunes, CA
Pat Tiberi, OH
◊ Ginny Brown-Waite, FL
Geoff Davis, KY
Dave G. Reichert, WA
Charles W. Boustany, Jr. , LA
Dean Heller, NV
Peter J. Roskam, IL

◊ current FairTax bill (H.R. 25) supporters

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