House Science Committee sets priorities for 113th session

Likely legislation to include bills related to space research, energy policy and reauthorization of the National Science Foundation.

The 113th Congress welcomes Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, as the new chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee. With broad jurisdiction over America's federal research and development efforts, the committee is widely expected to pursue specific legislation this session related to space, energy and the reauthorization of the National Science Foundation. In remarks to CQ Roll Call, Smith outlined his outlook and priorities for the committee as "a place where vision drives the dialogue and politics takes the back seat. The top priorities of the committee will be to promote legislation that encourages scientific discoveries, space exploration and the development of new technologies." Smith also noted the committee's intention to "look for ways not only to encourage students to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics but also to inspire them to pursue careers in STEM fields. The committee will set priorities for the National Science Foundation and other federal research agencies, including STEM education initiatives."

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, serves as ranking member of the full committee as its most senior Democrat. Earlier this month, in response to remarks made by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., calling for re-prioritizing federal funds away from the "social sciences," Ranking Member Johnson stated: "I'm starting to feel like a broken record but I'm just going to keep saying it — the social sciences are important. They help us understand what we do, why we do what we do, and how we can do things better. There is almost always a social sciences angle in the most important issues of the day like energy, national security and health…I do agree with the majority leader that biomedical research is critically important to the health and well-being of our citizens. But I do not agree that federally funded research should be considered on an either/or basis. Biomedical research is important, social science research is important, energy research is important, and defense research is important. The list goes on and on. We need to be discussing how to fund all of this important scientific research, not how to get rid of it."

Much of the leadership at the subcommittee level is also new. Rep. Larry Bucshon, R-Ind., takes over as chairman of the re-named Subcommittee on Research, with Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Ill., staying on as ranking member. APA's Science Government Relations Office staff will continue to work closely with staff at the full committee and subcommittee levels in 2013, particularly regarding legislation to reauthorize National Science Foundation programs.

For more information on this issue contact Heather O’Beirne Kelly.