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.
What We're Following See More »
"The Senate standstill over a stopgap spending bill appeared headed toward a resolution on Friday night. Senators who were holding up the measure said votes are expected later in the evening. West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin had raised objections to the continuing resolution because it did not include a full year's extension of retired coal miners' health benefits," but Manchin "said he and other coal state Democrats agreed with Senate Democratic leaders during a caucus meeting Thursday that they would not block the continuing resolution, but rather use the shutdown threat as a way to highlight the health care and pension needs of the miners."
Donald Trump transition team announced Friday afternoon that top supporter Rudy Giuliani has taken himself out of the running to be in Trump's cabinet, though CNN previously reported that it was Trump who informed the former New York City mayor that he would not be receiving a slot. While the field had seemingly been narrowed last week, it appears to be wide open once again, with ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson the current favorite.
The House has completed it's business for 2016 by passing a spending bill which will keep the government funded through April 28. The final vote tally was 326-96. The bill's standing in the Senate is a bit tenuous at the moment, as a trio of Democratic Senators have pledged to block the bill unless coal miners get a permanent extension on retirement and health benefits. The government runs out of money on Friday night.
The Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act today, sending the $618 billion measure to President Obama. The president vetoed the defense authorization bill a year ago, but both houses could override his disapproval this time around.