As staff director, Safavian coordinates scheduling for hearings and markups, handles all personnel matters and committee budgeting, and above all ensures that the agenda of Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., is on track.
Safavian's other job as general counsel is just as involved. She combs through all of the legislation sent over from the Senate to ensure that any revenue provision originates in the House, as required under the Constitution. This is no small matter, because any bill that raises fees or imposes fines—like immigration reform—could be considered a revenue bill.
Sometimes the Senate does not even send bills with revenue impacts over to the House and other times bills go to the House without being referred to the committee. Although Safavian could make a stink far more often, the Ways and Means Committee rather sparingly uses its "blue slip" power to send bills back to the Senate—perhaps once every few years for a significant matter.
Safavian also navigates all of the panel's parliamentarian issues in committee and on the floor, and gets involved when another committee's jurisdiction overlaps with Ways and Means, such as Energy and Commerce on health care matters or Foreign Affairs on trade.
Safavian, 43, is from St. Louis and started working on Capitol Hill in 1997. She joined the Ways and Means staff in 2011 as staff director for the Oversight Subcommittee and moved up to staff director for the full committee last year when Jon Traub left Capitol Hill for the private sector. Safavian's background on what is now the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has made her a valuable asset in the Ways and Means Committee's investigation of the Internal Revenue Service.
This article appears in the October 24, 2013, edition of NJ Daily as Jennifer Safavian, Majority Staff Director; General Counsel.