John O’Connor

In a nation where more than 10,000 people turn 65 each day, you might think the House of Representatives would surely have a committee that considers the interests and needs of our rapidly-aging population. Think again.

While such a group once existed, it was disbanded when Newt Gingrich (R-GA) and his Contract With America cronies took control of the chamber in 1995. The committee has been in mothballs ever since.

But there is a movement afoot to bring it back, spearheaded by David N. Cicilline, a Democrat from Rhode Island. Cicilline recently introduced House Resolution 583, which would do exactly that.

The measure has received support from the 69-member Leadership Council of Aging Organizations, which includes Leading Age and AMDA–The Society for post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine.

In truth, not a whole lot is needed to revive the committee. A simple majority vote by the full House will do the trick.

But for reasons that have never been fully explained, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has not yet committed to bringing Cicilline’s resolution to the floor. Which, frankly, is a bit of a head scratcher.

To be sure, there are other committees with jurisdiction over seniors’ programs. But there is no single House committee dedicated exclusively to aging-related issues.

As for some possible docket fillers, look no further than what is happening in the other chamber, where the Senate Special Committee on Aging still soldiers on. Recent matters this group addressed include scams against seniors, increasing home and community-based services, and eliminating sketchy billing practices by Medicare Advantage insurers.

“America’s seniors have spent a lifetime working hard and moving our country forward and they deserve the best in their retirement,” Rep. Cicilline said.

“Congress must study and address the issues that affect seniors to make sure they can live the rest of their lives with dignity and security,” he added.

Well Speaker Pelosi, how about it?

John O’Connor is editorial director for McKnight’s.