Maybe the tie put him over the top? Yesterday, the Republican leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives recommended that Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) become the next chair of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. Smith made his case for the job wearing "a tie decorated with planets and spaceships," according to The Hill newspaper—a sartorial nod to the panel's oversight of NASA and other space-related research.
The recommendation, expected to be approved today in a vote of all House Republicans, means that Representative F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-WI) fell short in his bid for a second stint as the panel's chair. A third candidate, Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), failed for a second time to gain the gavel. Smith will formally take his new post in the Congress that begins in January.
Smith, who this month was elected to his 14th term in Congress, has served on the science panel for 26 years. He's known for his arch-conservative views on immigration and criminal justice issues, but also as a skilled legislator who is able to work with Democrats. He's a skeptic when it comes to government action on climate change. Still, many Washington-based lobbyists for universities and science organizations privately said that they hoped Smith would win the job. They see him as a pragmatic lawmaker who is most likely to revive the science committee, which has been perceived as relatively quiet under current chair Representative Ralph Hall (R-TX).