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Don't Speculate, Representative Lamar Smith Tells ScienceInsider

11 January 2013 3:15 pm
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U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology

Call me, absolutely. Representative Lamar Smith explains the process of naming the science committee's subcommittee chairs.

The new chair of the House of Representatives science committee has taken exception to an article this week about the legislators who were named to lead the panel's six subcommittees.

Here is the full text of the letter from Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX), followed by an explanatory footnote:

An article in ScienceInsider tries to speculate on the recent Subcommittee appointments to the Science, Space, and Technology Committee. Unfortunately, I regret that the reporter didn't call to get the facts.

For example, ScienceInsider opines that Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-Ill) was somehow "lost in the shuffle" in the decisions on subcommittee chairs. But in fact, House Republican rules prohibit members who serve on exclusive committees, including Budget and Financial Services, from serving as Subcommittee chairman on another committee. Rep. Hultgren is a member of the Financial Services Committee. Along with his work on other committees, I am confident that Rep. Hultgren will continue to be a strong voice in support of science and innovation.

Other claims about members being stripped of their posts or questions about their qualifications could have been easily answered had Science Insider contacted my office for comment. As Vice-Chairman of the Space Subcommittee, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala) has said that he is "thrilled" with his new position and looking forward to representing the interests of the Marshall Space Flight Center, located in his congressional district. And had I been contacted, I would have been happy to explain why Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky) was selected to chair the Subcommittee on Technology. A successful innovator and entrepreneur, Rep. Massie started his own company after receiving a Master's degree in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1995, Rep. Massie won the $30,000 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize.

In the future, I hope ScienceInsider makes a better effort to get the facts. Unfortunately, in this case, the ScienceInsider seems more like Science Speculator.

Note: There are a handful of committees in the 435-member House of Representatives that are seen as so influential that members are not allowed to serve on other committees. Party leaders can make an exception by granting the member a waiver; however, that waiver typically would not enable the member to hold a leadership position on the second committee. Historically, the list of so-called exclusive committees has included appropriations, ways and means, and energy and commerce. Financial services was added to the list in 2005.

This practice is not followed in the 100-member Senate, where by tradition power is distributed more evenly.

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