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 Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) and is comprised of 22 Senators; 12 Republicans and 10 Democrats. 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:
- Measures relating to education, labor, health, and public welfare.
- Agricultural colleges.
- Arts and humanities.
- Biomedical research and development.
- Child labor.
- Convict labor and the entry of goods made by convicts into interstate commerce.
- Domestic activities of the American National Red Cross.
- Equal employment opportunity.
- Gallaudet University, Howard University, and Saint Elizabeth hospital.
- Individuals with disabilities.
- Labor standards and labor statistics.
- Mediation and arbitration of labor disputes.
- Occupational safety and health, including the welfare of miners.
- Private pension plans.
- Public health.
- Railway labor and retirement.
- Regulation of foreign laborers.
- Student loans.
- 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.