Janice Mays, Minority Chief Counsel

Janice Mays, Minority Chief Counsel
National Journal
Stacy Kaper
Oct. 23, 2013, 2 p.m.

Widely con­sidered one of the most in­flu­en­tial staffers on Cap­it­ol Hill, Mays has served on the Ways and Means Com­mit­tee since 1975 and knows where all the bod­ies are bur­ied from every ma­jor tax, trade, and en­ti­tle­ment battle dur­ing that time.

She is ori­gin­ally from Geor­gia and is known for call­ing the people she works with “sweetie” and of­fer­ing candy from the stash in her of­fice. Rank­ing mem­ber Sander Lev­in, D-Mich., calls her a “tower of strength and wis­dom,” adding, “She also hears more gos­sip than any­body else.”

Mays, 61, has her own small col­lec­tion of polit­ic­al memen­tos, in­clud­ing a hat from Lady Bird John­son and pic­tures of the eight pres­id­ents who once served on Ways and Means. The pres­id­ents’ pic­tures are on loan to the ma­jor­ity and are framed on the walls of the com­mit­tee’s H-208 Cap­it­ol of­fice, where Chair­man Dave Camp, R-Mich., of­ten works.

Mays sees her job with the minor­ity as in­ter­pret­ing le­gis­lat­ive policy for Demo­crats, ex­plain­ing the de­cisions that need to be made, of­fer­ing ad­vice, and serving as a sound­ing board to chal­lenge their opin­ions and strategy.

When Camp puts out his tax-re­form plan, Mays will sit down with Demo­crat­ic tax staff to de­cipher what it does and wheth­er it meets the ob­ject­ives Re­pub­lic­ans have laid out. She will also guide Demo­crats in sort­ing through what met­rics they use to as­sess policies and how any re­form plan that emerges stacks up to their goals.