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The Energy and Commerce Committee (ECC) is one of three committees in the House of Representatives in the United States government that has been around for more than 200 years. The committee has changed its name several times to reflect changing attitudes, but the main goal is to protect the consumer. The ECC has jurisdiction over areas of importance to the public like public health, telecommunications, and the supply and delivery of energy. Multiple subcommittees help the Energy and Commerce Committee maintain its effectiveness.
In 1795, the U.S. government established the Committee on Commerce and Manufactures. This committee drew its members from the House of Representatives and was formed to help oversee the developments in trade with other nations as well as businesses in America. The committee has changed names over the years, but the focus on promoting commerce and protecting public interests has remained the same.
In 1819, the group became the Committee on Commerce when manufacturing became a committee in its own right. The name shifted again by the end of the century to the Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce. This reflected the change in commerce in general after the Industrial Revolution. Since trade with different parts of the world was now possible, the committee felt it should widen its scope.
The current name, the Energy and Commerce Committee, came about in 1981. This was in part a reaction to the two oil crises in the 1970s. The country became more concerned with delivery and management of energy. Energy issues also became quickly linked to questions about consumer protection.
In addition to energy and commerce, the committee has legislative oversight in areas like telecommunications, food and drug safety, and travel and tourism. It oversees the Food and Drug Administration, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Department of Energy. There are also seven subcommittees, including Oversight and Investigations, Communications, and Energy and Environment.
The Energy and Commerce Committee meets on the fourth Tuesday of each month when the House is in session. The committee can have a meeting with only two members present. A majority of members is needed, though, for certain actions. There are currently 59 members, including the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee and the chairmen of the subcommittees.