The Science Committee announced today the subcommittee chairs for the 110th Congress and we also found out that it has reorganized it's subcommittee structure. Not only have they added a 5th committee dedicated to Investigations and Oversight, but topics have been redistributed in the other four committees as well. Below are the new subcommittee mastheads I designed last weekend (yeah, I still do a little pro-bono work for the science committee now and again)and my personal take on the new structure and chairs:
The only committee that remains untouched is the Space and Aeronautics subcommittee. That committee even retains Mark Udall (CO-2) (who was ranking member last session) as it's lead. Mark did a great job as ranking member and I'm sure he will continue to be a strong advocate for space despite the loss of his science legislative assistant (she abandoned the Hill for law school last fall). His new LA was an intern on the science committee staff while I was there, so I know firsthand that she is fabulous. Her background is in science, though more environment than space, but I have no doubts that she will get up to speed quickly. While Mr. Udall is generally supportive of the President's vision, his record shows that he is also very concerned about the recent cuts in science and aeronautics. He has pushed hard for the Hubble repair mission and for terrestrial remote sensing. His district is home to the University of CO as well as Ball Aerospace and other aerospace industry.
My Congressman, Nick Lampson (TX-22)has been named chair of the subcommittee on Energy and Environment. Yay Nick! Nick's record shows that he's somebody who gets things done and I think that he will really have a chance to shine here. As much as I love Mr. Udall, I am a little disappointed that Nick didn't get Space, but I'm sure that this new subcommittee will be a very important one in this congress. And I'm sure that Nick will still have a voice on space issues as a member of the space subcommittee.
Brian Baird (WA-3) will take the helm of the Research and Science Education subcommittee. Science Education is a topic that has traditionally been handled by the Research Subcommittee, so I don't think a lot is changing here except the name. (which just reflects the weight that Chairman Gordon's give to importance of education). Rep. Baird replace Darlene Hooley, who was ranking member in the last session and is not returning to the Science Committee this year. Rep. Baird is beginning his 4th term and I belive that this is his first chairmanship, so congrats Mr. Baird!
David Wu (OR-1) has been selected to chair the Technology and Innovation subcommittee. I imagine that this encompasses what's left of the former ETS (Environment, Technology, and Standards) subcommittee now that Environment has joined forces with Energy. I suppose this committee is also a reaction to all of the competitivness discussions from last Congress, which I'm sure are going to continue. I'm glad they broke up Environment, Technology, and Standards. It was too long to say and nobody outside of the Committee know what the heck ETS was. Mr. Wu may be most familiar to you from his recent declaration of "faux Klingons in the White House" but he did a good job as the ranking member of the ETS subcommittee, and I think he'll do just fine as chair.
Finally, Brad Miller (NC-13) is the chair of the new subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight. Mr. Miller is beginning his third term in the House and I believe that this is also his first chairmanship. I'm interested to see what this committee does. Personally, it seems to me that the best oversight can be accomplished by those who know the most about an issue, i.e. the committee that covers that issue. I'm not sure that you will get better oversight by distancing the problem from the committee that handles the agency with the problem. Like I said, I'm not really sure how this is going to work, but I'm sure they had reasons for doing it, so I hope they prove me wrong. I am positive that we will see more oversight under the Dems than we did with the Republicans in power, so do I hope that this committee will be busy.