New Chairman for House Science, Space, and Technology Committee

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Publication date: 
30 November 2012

When  the new Congress convenes in January, Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) will  chair the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee. Smith will replace Ralph  Hall (R-TX) who has chaired the committee since January 2011.

Running  against Smith were former Science Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R-WI)  and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA).  Smith  was selected by the House Republican Steering Committee, and approved by House  Republican Members.  In commenting on his  selection, Smith stated:

“As  Chairman of the Science Committee, I will be an advocate for America’s  innovators by promoting legislation that encourages scientific discoveries,  space exploration, and the application of new technologies to expand our  economy and create jobs for American workers.         “Over  80% of the Committee’s $39 billion budget touches on research and development.  We can’t have innovation without research and development.  And the purpose of the Science Committee is  to encourage the R&D that leads to new innovations.        “The  Science Committee can play an exciting part in the discoveries of science, the  exploration of space and the development of new technologies. I appreciate the  confidence of my colleagues and look forward to chairing the Committee next  Congress.”

Smith  now serves as the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.  He was born in 1947, and has a degree from  Yale University and a law degree from Southern Methodist University.  He has served thirteen terms in the House, serving  on the Science Committee during his complete tenure.  Smith represents the 21st  District, and has offices in San Antonio, Austin, and Kerrville.  Smith also serves on the House Homeland  Security Committee.  Interest group  ratings for the representative are available here.  A year ago Smith received a “policymaker of  the year” in technology award for his work on a bipartisan overhaul of the  nation’s patent law.

A  chairman largely determines the agenda and approach his committee will  take.  Smith’s congressional website  offers his  views on a number of issues of interest to the physics community:

Science  and Technology:

“Technology  is the key that will unlock a brighter future for us all. As a Member of the  House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, I am committed to ensuring  that innovation continues to expand and enrich our lives without harming our  privacy or security.

“Science  and technology are critical to national security, economic strength, and  quality health care. We must make the necessary investments in basic research  and science education to ensure that the United States remains the world’s  leader in technology and innovation.

“The  technology industry drives our economy, both in Texas and nationally.  Technological marvels that once shocked us now seem routine. With the  recognition that technology plays an increasingly important role in our lives,  my legislative agenda includes a heavy emphasis on science and technology  issues. We must ensure that policies designed to promote the tech industry are  advanced.”


“By  exploring and researching space, NASA is critical to the economic  competitiveness of the United States. It is important to provide funding for  NASA to conduct scientific research and develop new technology.

“With  proper funding, NASA will also be able to continue a robust research program in  space science, earth science, and aeronautics.

“As  a member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, I have  supported measures to expand, refine, and improve NASA. I will continue to be a  strong advocate for space sciences and other advanced space research efforts.”


“Like  many Americans, I am concerned about the environment. The Earth has undergone  tremendous change in the past and is experiencing similar change now. Climate  change has the potential to impact agriculture, ecosystems, sea levels, weather  patterns, and human health.

“It  is our responsibility to take steps to improve the quality of our land, water  and air for ourselves and for future generations. We can do this by developing  and expanding clean energy technologies, relying less on foreign oil, and  utilizing a common sense approach to conservation.

“As  a member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, I am  committed to ensuring that we rely on good science to guide our strategies in  dealing with the environment.

“I  introduced renewable energy legislation that was included in H.R. 6, the  “Energy Independence and Security Act.” This legislation, which became law on  December 19, 2007, creates incentives for Plug-In Hybrid Electric vehicles,  creates a grant program for solar demonstrations and public-private  partnerships, expands the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), increases corporate  average fuel economy (CAFE) standards, and requires increased energy efficiency  standards for consumer appliances.

“I  am a cosponsor of H.R. 445, the ‘Heavy Duty Hybrid Vehicle Research,  Development, and Demonstration Act.’   This legislation establishes a competitive grant program to advance  research and development for advanced heavy duty hybrid vehicles.  This legislation passed the House on  September 9, 2009, and now awaits action in the Senate. 

“I  have championed solar technology development in Texas. The U.S. Department of  Energy has selected the City of Austin (2007) and the City of San Antonio  (2008) as two of the first 25 cities to be awarded a Solar America Cities  grant.

“These  technologies can help provide a cleaner environment for our children while at  the same time reducing our dependence on foreign oil.”

Science,  Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Education:

“As  a member of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, I believe  that science and technology education are critical to our nation's future.        “Science  and technology are critical to national security, economic strength, and  quality health care. We must make the necessary investments in basic research  and science education to ensure that the United States remains the world’s  leader in technology and innovation.

“I  support students’ involvement in the sciences and believe young people should  be encouraged to study in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and  Math (STEM). That is why I have supported legislation such as the ‘College  Opportunity and Affordability Act of 2008,’ which helps make college more  affordable for all individuals and expands college access and support for  low-income and minority students and individuals entering the fields of math  and science. This legislation also strengthens our workforce and our  competitiveness.

“I  also supported the America COMPETES Act of 2007, which provides students,  teachers, businesses and workers the tools to compete in the 21st century  economy. To compete in today’s high-tech global economy we need to encourage  innovation, foster creativity and promote a talented workforce. This is a  critical challenge facing our country. The America COMPETES Act offers  incentives for students to pursue careers in math and science and ensures  American classrooms are filled with highly qualified teachers. These measures  ensure the next generations of Americans are prepared to meet the challenges of  the 21st Century.”