David Cicilline headshot
Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI)

Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) has introduced a resolution to re-establish a Permanent Select Committee on Aging in the U.S. House of Representatives more than 25 years after the committee disbanded amid budgetary woes.

Under H. Res. 821, introduced Jan. 30, the committee would not have legislative jurisdiction but would:

  • Study long-term care, housing, health (including medical research), income maintenance, poverty, welfare, employment, education, recreation and other issues affecting older adults;
  • Encourage the development of public and private programs and policies that help older Americans fully participate in “national life” and contribute to a better quality of life for all Americans;
  • Develop policies to encourage the coordination of public and private programs to address issues related to aging; and
  • Review aging-related program and policy recommendations from the president and the White House Conference on Aging.

The resolution has been submitted to the Rules Committee for markup before potentially being considered by the full House.

The previous House Aging Committee was active from 1974 to 1993 and during that time brought attention to elder abuse, helped increase home care benefits for older adults and helped establish research and care centers for Alzheimer’s disease, among other accomplishments, according to Woonsocket (RI) Call columnist Herb Weiss.

Cicilline, Weiss said, is working to gain support for the committee from lawmakers in both parties as well as advocacy groups such as the Leadership Council on Aging Organizations. LCAO members include LeadingAge, AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine, and several other organizations.

There are existing House standing committees with legislative authority and jurisdiction over aging issues, but Robert Blancato, a staff person serving the committee from 1978 to 1993 and now president of Matz, Blancato and Associates, told Weiss, “We need the specific focus that only a select committee can offer to the myriad of issues related to aging in America.”

Cicilline introduced similar resolutions in 2016 and 2017, but they weren’t successful. He believes chances for passage are greater now because the Democrats control the House, Weiss said.

The Senate has a Special Committee on Aging, currently chaired by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), with Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) serving as ranking member. That committee, which also has no legislative authority, initially was established in 1961 as a temporary committee and became a permanent one in 1977.