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US Science Committee Changes Predicted

With the recent midterm elections, Wired writes that changes will be coming to the US House of Representatives science committee, making it "pro-science."

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), the current committee chair, is retiring. He was first elected to Congress in 1986 and became chair of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, which oversees science agencies like the National Science Foundation, among other roles, in 2012. During his tenure leading the committee, Science reported earlier this year that some lobbyists have said it became a "cesspool of bitter partisanship." Smith, for instance, has criticized the peer-review process at NSF, repeatedly worked to change how the agency funds projects, and sought to limit those projects to ones "in the national interest." He also criticized some projects as wasteful.

Wired adds that with Smith's departure and now as Democrats are to hold a majority in the House, there'll be a shakeup to the committee. Ranking member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) says in a statement that she is seeking to be chair of the committee and, if selected, would "[r]estore the credibility of the Science Committee as a place where science is respected and recognized as a crucial input to good policymaking."

Johnson adds that she acknowledges and would address the issue of climate change, as well as seek to bolster science and related fields.