House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton today released a report on the committee's activities from the 3rd quarter of the 2nd session of the 112th Congress. Prepared for members of the committee, this is the seventh such report detailing the committee's work this Congress. The report highlights the committee's legislative activities and successes in 2012.
In the report, Upton notes, "This update, summing up action in 2012, looks at major pieces of legislation developed by our committee, advanced through the House, negotiated with the Senate, and signed into law by the president. It enumerates the approximately 30 bills, in addition to those signed into law, that we were able to advance through the House. It details a series of oversight reports and findings that were produced after in-depth investigations. And it outlines the vast range of issues we examined in the roughly 75 hearings we have already convened this year."
The report details a record of accomplishment on issues where the committee has been able to make strides toward the overall goal of creating a more efficient, limited government that provides the necessary conditions for job creation and economic growth. A summary of the committee's progress on key initiatives follows:
Bipartisan Accomplishment: Bills Signed Into Law
In a year when the media, and the president, would suggest that Congress is hopelessly gridlocked and Washington is unable to deliver for the American people, the committee has continued the long, hard work of negotiating bipartisan solutions to some of the nation's most pressing concerns. This year saw five significant bipartisan bills from the committee signed into law, and those bills reflected the contents and legislative effort of another two-dozen bills that were drafted and debated at various stages. The committee saw through to enactment measures to support job creation and technological innovation, save and improve lives through medical advancement, improve motor vehicle safety, and streamline outdated government regulations.
Legislative Leadership: Bills Advanced through the House
The Energy and Commerce Committee produced many more bills than those that were eventually signed into law. The bills advanced through the House of Representatives laid an important foundation for the future and helped shape the public policy debate in Washington and around the country. That effort included approximately 30 separate bills that were approved by the House to address a range of issues from energy production and reliability to health care affordability and from good-government process reforms to strong protections for the innovation-driving power of the Internet.
Signature Investigations: Using Oversight to Hold Government Accountable
Oversight is a core congressional responsibility, and it remained a top priority this year. As a result of the work done by the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, with the support and efforts of the legislative subcommittees as well, the committee shined a spotlight on government waste, broken programs, opaque federal agencies and interest groups, and potential public health risks.
Among the most notable investigations by the committee was the 18-month investigation into DOE's failed $535 million loan guarantee to Solyndra, culminating in a 147-page report released late this summer. The investigation included the review of over 300,000 pages of documents, interviews with numerous individuals, and five committee oversight hearings. The report states, "Now, after a thorough review of the record, the Committee is able to present a complete picture of the facts and circumstances surrounding the DOE's decision to award a loan guarantee to Solyndra, and the roles various Executive Branch agencies, including the White House, played in these events."
Tackling the Tough Issues: Hearings and Forums
The committee had no shortage of topics to cover this year, and it did so over the course of approximately 75 separate hearings. Chairman Mary Bono Mack's Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade Subcommittee launched a deep dive into obstacles and opportunities for job creation through its Where the Jobs Are hearing series. Chairman Greg Walden kept the Communications and Technology Subcommittee busy with a strong focus on cybersecurity and how various proposals related to critical infrastructure would affect communications networks. The Subcommittee on Energy and Power, led by Rep. Ed Whitfield, delved into a broad range of issues affecting our energy sector.
In the Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy Chairman John Shimkus continued a series of projects it launched last year, examining everything from Yucca Mountain and the importance of a long-term nuclear repository to chemical plant security. Health Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts explored issues important to patients and doctors while offering substantive solutions to deal with FDA operations, prescription drug user fees, new initiatives for generic drugs and biosimilars and more. Lastly, led by Chairman Cliff Stearns, the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee examined a broad range of issues this year in order to promote fiscal and regulatory accountability.
"In the waning days of the 112th Congress, as we interact with our constituents and when the time comes for us to return to Washington, we can reflect on a record of promises made and promises kept," Upton concluded. "We developed an agenda rooted in three core objectives: supporting job creation and economic growth; reforming government while reducing its size and scope; and protecting rights and freedoms for individuals and communities. We wrote, debated, and advanced legislation that achieved those goals. We conducted substantive investigations and demanded that government be held accountable to its people. We reached across the aisle to work with our colleagues on shared priorities, and we listened to the American people."