At least, according to the House rules they aren't. You can read about the inequities in this article here.
So, how much influence does a committee have?
That's not an easy question to answer from the outside looking in. After reading some articles, books on the subject, and the House rules, the only thing for certain is that there is a wide difference in power between committees. However, that power difference can vary widely from year to year, particularly when it comes to "issues" that crop up within a given session. Media attention or a "crisis" can suddenly vault an ignored committee into the limelight, giving its members celebrity status.
Such power is always temporary, of course.
On the other hand, there seem to be certain committees that always have a steady amount of interest, because they deal with subjects that - year after year - attract political manipulation. Education and criminal law are two obvious examples. The workload analysis in the charts above bears this out.
Therefore, we have primarily used the workload data to construct our list of the "important" vs. the "unimportant" committees.
The workload data used the one-month period in January. It totaled all of the active "items" that a committee had been assigned. An item is a bill or a resolution. The items were then divided by the number of members to determine the workload per member.
You can view the raw data by clicking on the links below:Excel file (18K) || Word file (20K)
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