With 535 voting Members of Congress, Representatives and Senators generally act together through various committees and caucuses to advance mutual goals and review proposed legislation and broader issues. Most Representatives serve on one to three committees and multiple caucuses.
Committees are smaller groups of Members and staff who specialize in the various subjects that come before Congress. Most committees further break out into subcommittees of fewer Members for further specialization. In the House there are twenty-one regular committees, five of which are referred to as exclusive meaning that generally that’s the only committee the Member is assigned to due to the breadth of responsibility and workload of the committee.
I serve on two House committees essential to our country and to Hawai‘i: the Appropriations Committee (an exclusive committee); and the Natural Resources Committee (on which I was asked to serve even though I was already assigned to Appropriations).
The House Appropriations Committee, the oldest committee in Congress, has one of the broadest jurisdictions of any committee. It is responsible for appropriating funding for most of the functions of our federal government, close to $1.4 trillion annually. This assignment gives me the ability to advocate not only for sufficient funding of national programs but also for specific programs critical to Hawai‘i. I serve on the following subcommittees of the Appropriations Committee:
- Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies
- Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies
- Legislative Branch
The House Natural Resources Committee has jurisdiction over all public lands and natural resources, and is ground zero for our efforts in Congress to preserve the natural heritage that was gifted to us for generations to come. Just some of the many issues the Committee addresses are oceans, federal conservation, species protection, energy production, climate change, mineral lands and mining, fisheries and wildlife, irrigation and reclamation. It also is responsible for Native Americans, Alaska Natives and other indigenous peoples including Native Hawaiians. I serve on the following subcommittees in the Natural Resources Committee:
- National Parks, Forests and Public Lands
- Indigenous Peoples of the United States
- Water, Oceans and Wildlife
Caucuses and Coalitions
Caucuses are groups of Representatives who come together to pursue shared goals. They are called coalitions, study groups, task forces or working groups. I currently serve as a member of the following caucuses and other groups: