And Then There Were Three: Rohrabacher Announces Bid to Lead House Science Committee

Candidate. Representative Dana Rohrabacher wants to be next head of the House science committee.

U.S. House of Representatives

The race to become the next head of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology (SST) is heating up. Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) today issued a statement confirming that he wants the job.

"I intend to be a chairman who exemplifies the Republican philosophy that science, technology and innovation offer a pathway to a better, more prosperous future, and solve problems that bureaucracy and rampant government spending cannot," he wrote.

Rohrabacher will be facing at least two other opponents: Representative F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-WI), who announced his candidacy yesterday, and Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX), who announced his last month.

Rohrabacher says his priorities would include: "making certain NASA has a real, achievable plan for near-term human space exploration; directing the Department of Energy to concentrate their resources on advanced energy concepts leading to energy independence; reforming all departments and agencies under SST jurisdiction by bringing them back to their core missions and proper roles; increasing opportunities to achieve national science goals by leveraging the capabilities and resources of industry; and making the committee a forum for respectful debate and discussion of science and science policy."

"Our nation's science and technology enterprise is the source of our international strength, promotion of new industries and new jobs," he added. "As a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I've been uniquely positioned to assist in cooperative international space and technology efforts that serve everyone well and will continue to do so as Chairman of the Science Committee."

Rohrabacher has served as chair of the committee's space and aeronautics and energy and environment subcommittees. He sought the panel's top job in 2010, but lost to Representative Ralph Hall (R-TX), who is stepping down at the end of the year as a result of House rules limiting the terms of committee chairs to 6 years.

Rohrabacher is known as an enthusiastic supporter of the space program and a prominent skeptic that humans are contributing to global warming. He has a been a ferocious critic of the Obama administration, and has gone to the House floor to attack U.S. government programs that fund research and environmental programs overseas, particularly in China, calling such projects "insane."

In his statement, Rohrabacher attempts to distinguish himself from his opponents by claiming to "have the most years of active experience on the Committee, excluding those who have already been Chairman." That last phrase is a reference to Sensenbrenner, who led the science panel from 1997 to 2001.

Overall, Sensenbrenner has served 28 years on the science panel, in two stints, according to committee staff members. Smith has served 26 years, and Rohrabacher 24 years.

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*Update 4:05 p.m., 9 November: This item was revised to include the number of years that each of the three members has served on the House science committee.