December 06, 2004

Wyden to Join Senate Finance Panel

Will focus on health care reform, Oregon economy,technology growth as member of key oversight committee

Washington, DC - Incoming Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced today that U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) will take a seat on the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance when the 109th Congress convenes in January 2005. The panel oversees a number of key issues including Federal health programs, tax policy, Social Security and trade. Wyden plans three major areas of focus for his service on the Finance panel: reforming the nation's health care system, continuing to restore Oregon's economy, and supporting the growth of U.S. leadership on technology issues. "From working to forge a bipartisan path to solve America's health care crisis, to championing fiscally fair and trade-savvy policy for my home state's economy, I intend to use this position for the good of Oregon and the nation as a whole," said Wyden. Wyden, the author of the 2003 "Health Care that Works for All Americans" Act, has long been concerned about the impact of a coming "demographic tsunami" of baby-boom Americans who will enter the Medicare program in the coming decade and place unprecedented strain on the nation's already-compromised health care system. Now, as a member of the Committee that oversees legislation relating to all health programs under the Social Security Act and any health programs financed by a specific tax or trust fund, Wyden will have a greater opportunity to chart the course of Federal health care spending and policy. The Committee's jurisdiction over tax, trade and other revenue issues will provide similar opportunities for Wyden to champion Oregon's recovering economy. He intends to address a number of home-state economic issues, including ending reimbursement inequities for Oregon in many Federal programs, opening new trade markets abroad for Oregon products, and promoting policies to encourage the growth of business while ensuring fair treatment of workers. Wyden will also continue to promote robust and responsible Federal technology policy as a member of the Finance panel. As the author of the ban on unfair and discriminatory taxation of the Internet, he will maintain a major role in the creation of technology tax law; he will also seek to increase the growth and economic impact of the U.S. technology sector. "The tax, health and trade policies written by the Finance Committee have a direct impact on every American family, and responsible leadership on these issues is key," said Wyden. "I'll work to bring fresh ideas and my bipartisan approach to finding solutions to our nation's most pressing challenges." The Senate Finance Committee has five subcommittees: on health care, international trade, long-term growth and debt reduction, social security and family policy, and taxation and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) oversight. Wyden's subcommittee assignments are still to be determined. In addition to the Senate Committee on Finance, Wyden will continue to serve on the Senate Budget, Intelligence, Energy and Aging Committees. He will no longer serve on the Senate Commerce Committee and Environment & Public Works Committee, effective January 2005. Committee assignments must still be approved by the full Democratic Caucus.