Richard E. Neal was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, and was raised and educated in the City of Springfield. He is a graduate of American International College, where he received his Bachelor's Degree in Political Science, and he received his Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the Barney School of Business and Public Administration at the University of Hartford.
Congressman Neal was first elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1988 and served his first two terms on the House Banking Committee before joining the Ways and Means Committee in 1993. In January 2019, Congressman Neal was elected by his colleagues to assume the esteemed position of Chairman, marking the first time since 1875 that a representative from Massachusetts had done so.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Congressman Neal and the Ways and Means Committee worked tirelessly to bring relief to the American people.
The first relief bill, the CARES Act, included several provisions Ways and Means Committee Democrats secured including federal unemployment compensation, economic assistance payments, and telehealth flexibility. This bill singlehandedly saved the American economy.
In the American Rescue Plan Act, the Ways and Means Committee was responsible for nearly $1 billion of the $1.9 trillion package. Under Chairman Neal’s leadership, the bill put more money directly into people’s pockets, helping them better afford childcare and health coverage. It also shored up the hard-earned retirement security for millions of Americans nationwide.
In addition to the COVID-19 relief packages, Chairman Neal spearheaded a number of historic legislative achievements during the 116th and 117th Congress, including the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, marking the largest long-term investment in our infrastructure and economy in our nation's history, and the Chips and Science Act, which will reinvigorate our nation’s domestic manufacturing of chips and incentivize research and development. Chairman Neal also helped address retirement security with his bipartisan bill “SECURE 2.0,” which will increase participation in work-based retirement savings by expanding automatic enrollment in 401(k) plans and enhancing the start-up credit for small businesses to sponsor a retirement plan.
In addition, Chairman Neal led efforts to pass the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), much of which was written in the Ways and Means Committee. The IRA is a historic win for American families and the planet, with provisions that will lower costs while investing in Americans’ health and our future climate security. This includes lowering health care costs for millions of low and middle-income Americans by extending the Affordable Care Act’s premium tax credit enhancements through 2025; allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices and capping the out-of-pocket cost of medications for seniors, including capping the cost of insulin at $35/month; making the largest investment in our nation’s efforts to combat the climate crisis, generating 9 million good paying jobs; and investing in the IRS to ensure taxpayers are treated fairly and are able to access resources to make filing as easy as possible.
Congressman Neal is the dean of both the Massachusetts Delegation and the New England Congressional Delegation, as well as an At-Large Whip for the House Democrats. He is also the Democratic Leader of the Friends of Ireland Caucus, where he has advocated for maintaining strong relations between the U.S. and Ireland. He played a prominent role in not only bringing the Good Friday Agreement to fruition, ending the longest period of conflict in Irish history, but also in upholding the principles of the accord and ensuring no return to a hard border.
Congressman Neal is a long-time guest lecturer at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst and has received many awards and honorary degrees in his career, including an Honorary Degree of Humane Letters from Mount Holyoke College where he is a former trustee, an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws from Ulster University in Northern Ireland, and an Honorary Degree from Queen’s University Belfast.
Prior to his time in Congress, Neal was a high school teacher, member of the Springfield City Council, and Mayor of the City of Springfield from 1984 to 1988.