“The power of Congress to regulate interstate and foreign commerce – the ‘commerce clause’ of the Constitution – is at the very core of Congress’s role and responsibility in the American political system. It is, thus, not surprising that the House Energy and Commerce Committee became one of the first standing committees created in Congress in 1795. It stands today as the oldest continuous standing committee in the House and as a committee which is at the crossroads of almost every significant policy area that Congress considers, from the economy and health care to telecommunications, transportation, energy and the environment.” –– Norman J. Ornstein, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, at a U.S. Capitol Historical Society dinner in 1995.
The Committee on Energy and Commerce was originally established on December 14, 1795, as the Committee on Commerce and Manufactures to regulate interstate and foreign commerce.
As our nation has grown and modernized, so too has the Committee’s jurisdiction over commerce – expanding to health care, environmental protection, national energy policy, communications and consumer protection.
Over its more than 200 year history, the committee has had four different names – Commerce and Manufactures (1795-1819), Commerce (1819-1891 & 1995-2001), Interstate and Foreign Commerce (1891-1981) and Energy and Commerce (1981-1995 & 2001-Today).
While its name has changed over time, the Committee has been at the forefront of developing landmark laws that impact the day-to-day lives of all Americans through its broad jurisdiction over commerce.