About the HELP Committee
The committee began in 1869 as the Committee on Education and in 1884 through the mid-1900s it was known as the Education and Labor Committee. In 1999, then Chairman James Jeffords of Vermont, worked to officially name it the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.
Today the Committee is led by Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Ranking Member Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and is comprised of 22 Senators; 12 Democrats and 10 Republicans. Under their leadership, the Committee is composed of three subcommittees, which have a broad jurisdiction over our country's health care, education, employment and retirement policies.
Rule 25, of the Standing Rules of the Senate, States the Committee's Jurisdiction to be the following: Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, to which committee shall be referred all proposed legislation, messages, petitions, memorials, and other matters relating to the following subjects:
3. Agricultural colleges.
4. Arts and humanities.
5. Biomedical research and development.
6. Child labor.
7. Convict labor and the entry of goods made by convicts into interstate commerce.
8. Domestic activities of the American National Red Cross.
9. Equal employment opportunity.
10. Gallaudet University, Howard University, and Saint Elizabeth hospital.
11. Individuals with disabilities.
12. Labor standards and labor statistics.
13. Mediation and arbitration of labor disputes.
14. Occupational safety and health, including the welfare of miners.
15. Private pension plans.
16. Public health.
17. Railway labor and retirement.
18. Regulation of foreign laborers.
19. Student loans.
20. Wages and hours of labor
Such committee shall also study and review, on a comprehensive basis, matters relating to health, education and training, and public welfare, and report thereon from time to time.
Senator Tom Harkin has represented Iowa in Congress for 35 years. First winning election to the U.S. House in 1974, he represented Iowa's Fifth Congressional District until 1984, when he challenged an incumbent Senator and won. Iowans returned him to the Senate in 1990, 1996, 2002 and 2008, making Tom Harkin the first Iowa Democrat to win a fifth term in the U.S. Senate. He currently chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. Read Full Bio
The Ranking Member
Before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2002, Lamar Alexander served as governor of Tennessee, president of the University of Tennessee, United States Secretary of Education, and professor at Harvard's School of Government. In private life, he helped found what has become the nation’s largest provider of worksite day care. Three times his colleagues have elected him Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference.