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For the Chair

The chair of the US House of Representative's Committee on Science, Space, and Technology is up for grabs, and ScienceInsider reports that there are three Republican representatives vying for the spot: Lamar Smith (R-TX), James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA). "All three candidates are conservative Republicans with at least 24 years of service on the science committee," ScienceInsider says. The current chair, Ralph Hall (R-TX), has reached the term limit of six years.

Smith says that as chair of the science committee, he would emphasize plans to support innovation and the economy. "If given the opportunity to chair the Science Committee, I will promote legislation that encourages scientific discoveries, space exploration, and the application of new technologies to expand our economy and create jobs for American workers," he said in a statement to ScienceInsider.

Sensenbrenner then tells ScienceInsider that he'd focus on maintaining peer review, but also on beefing up science education. "When I see surveys that have American students ranked 25th in the world in science and Chinese students ranked first, that's really scary," he says. "I don't know what it will take to wake up everybody to the fact that our standard of living is based on productivity, which is based on math and science and students graduating and inventing and building state of the art things that have never been seen before. Sputnik woke us up out of our sleep back in the 1950s and we may need to have another wake up call to be able to play catch up."

Finally, Rohrbacher says that he offers "energy and passion." He adds that he'll "be finding ways of making the science and technology committee a vehicle for Republican solutions to problems, as opposed to the Democrats' bureaucracy and more government spending."

ScienceInsider notes that "congressional-watchers say that each candidate has influential allies, but they put their money on Smith." Whoever gets the leadership spot of the committee, it adds that "outsiders are predicting the science panel will be far more active than was the case under Hall's leadership."