In this blog I’ve only focused on the rosters and leadership of one Congressional committee – the House Science, Space and Technology Committee. Exactly how narrow-minded is that?
Well, pretty narrow-minded. But my focus, at least where I type, does not appear that unique. Review the blogs and websites that report on science policy, and the House Science Committee gets most of the attention. Not without cause, certainly, but it’s not the only one worth considering.
For instance, there’s a new chair and ranking member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee – Senators Thune and Bill Nelson, respectively. But the Senate Commerce Committee is not focused on science in the same way that it’s closest House counterpart is. Perhaps that explains why the appointment of Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio to chair subcommittees on space (Cruz) and the oceans and atmosphere (Rubio) attracted some attention, but not nearly the attention focused on members of the House Science Committee whenever they make pronouncements that suggest things other than science motivate their thinking.
So, what other committees are worth attention and scrutiny? Several. The Appropriations Committees in the House and Senate are critical in determining agency funding, and this is where last minute restrictions like Senator Coburn’s amendment on political science research, get in. Committees on technology get short shrift from a lot of science policy press, and I think that doesn’t make a lot of sense. I don’t know that it requires equal attention, but I think the committees dealing with new technologies can be just as influential as those determining how to support research and development in the United States.
There’s also the environmental committees. Sure, there’s an Environment Subcommittee in the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, but there’s also the House Natural Resources Committee and the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. (You’ll note the Democrat currently trying to find supposedly fraudulent climate researchers is on the House Natural Resources Committee.) Health doesn’t have a dedicated committee in either chamber, but those topics are covered in other committees.
So, if you are really interested in science and technology issues in Congress, cast a wider net than I do. A wider net than the science press does.