Cheer for this: A House Science Committee that believes in science
Since 2013, the House Committee on Space, Science, and Technology has been under the leadership of Texas Republican Lamar Smith. Smith waved off what he called “the hysteria around climate change” and claimed that it was impossible for man to impact the temperature of the Earth because God would never allow that to happen. In the last five years, Smith has blasted the committee, his speeches, and social media with the such a load of anti-science nonsense that his chairmanship of the science committee was the best argument that the whole of existence is a cosmic joke. Most notably, Smith was the leading supporter of the idea that sea level is indeed rising … because of rocks rolling into the ocean.
Smith is also the primary author of the HONEST Act, which as you might expect, is one of the most misnamed pieces of legislation ever produced. That’s the bill that would directly prevent the EPA from using scientific research in determining effects on human health by directly blocking any research that didn’t violate HIPPA laws—a bill the Republican House speedily passed last year.
In Texas, 21st Congressional District voters dutifully replaced a retiring Smith with another climate change denier backed by heavy oil company funding in the form of Republican Chip Roy, who was until recently the chief of staff for Sen. Ted Cruz. But Roy boy does not inherit Smith’s committee perch. Whatever he thinks of rocks and carbon dioxide, he’s going to have to find a new platform to sell it.
In fact, with the Democrats taking control of the House, something is happening that seems as much of a miracle as any result from the 2018 elections: for the first time since 2010, the House Science Committee is going to be chaired by someone who believes in science. It’s likely that chair will go to another Texan, Eddie Bernice Johnson, who is currently the ranking Democratic member of the committee. Johnson was both the first African American member of the Science Committee and the first woman to be a ranking member on the committee from either party. Johnson is also a former nurse and a great advocate for STEM education
But Johnson won’t be alone in promoting science. Not only will she be backed up by other Democrats who believe in things like evidence, there are a whole new flock of Democrats arriving in the House who have backgrounds in science and engineering.