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

Maybe the fourth time’s the charm?

Banking on the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on older adults, a group of lawmakers has reintroduced legislation to re-establish the House Permanent Select Committee on Aging. 

The original House Permanent Select Committee on Aging, which was active from 1974 to 1992, conducted investigations, hearings and issues reports to inform Congress on aging-related issues. 

“The pandemic has disproportionately impacted seniors, and now with growing concerns about inflation, seniors on fixed incomes will bear the burden of the rising cost of prescription drugs, food, housing and other essentials,” Rep. David N. Cicilline (D-RI) said in a statement. “There has never been a more urgent time for Congress to authorize the House Permanent Select committee on Aging than right now.”

Cicilline is joined by Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Doris Matsui (D-CA), co-chairs of the House Democratic Caucus Task Force on Aging and Families, in introducing House Resolution 583. It has 13 other co-sponsors, all of whom are Democrats.

Specifically, the resolutions would give the committee jurisdiction to:

  • Conduct a continuing comprehensive study and review of the problems facing older Americans, including long-term care, housing, health, welfare, income maintenance, poverty, employment, education and recreation;
  • Study the use 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 legislation is supported by the Washington, D.C.-based Leadership Council on Aging Organizations, which has a membership of 69 national groups, among them LeadingAge and AMDA–The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine. Cicilline introduced similar resolutions in 2016, 2017 and 2020, but they were unsuccessful. 

The Senate’s Special Committee on Aging is chaired by Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), with Sen.  Tim Scott (R-SC) serving as the ranking member. That committee, which also has no legislative authority, was established in 1961 as a temporary committee and became a permanent committee in 1977.