It’s hard to keep up with the overabundance of news coming out of D.C., so it would be easy to miss last week’s organizational meeting of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.
During this time, the committee approved their Authorization and Oversight Plan (which broadly lays out their framework for the 115th Congress) and committee rules. The oversight plan, which Chairman Lamar Smith (TX-21) called an opportunity to “inspire innovation, generate jobs, and keep America competitive” sets out the legislative jurisdiction of the committee (which includes marine, energy, and environmental research and nonmilitary energy laboratories) and assigns general oversight responsibilities (including of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Science Foundation, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)). The plan also lays out specific topics the committee expects to review and investigate, including all activities and functions of the National Weather Service, NOAA’s funding prioritization and program management of severe weather events, the broad array of federal climate change programs, NASA’s Earth science missions, and NOAA’s satellite program.
While committee rules remain mostly unchanged from the 114th Congress, Ranking Member Johnson voiced her continued opposition to “undemocratic” rules regarding the power for the committee chairman to unilaterally issue subpoenas. She noted that Chairman Smith has “issued more subpoenas than in the rest of my 25 years of service.” Chairman Smith promised fewer subpoenas this Congress and added that they are “powerful tools for uncovering the truth.” Both committee heads are referring to the ongoing rounds of fighting over subpoenas for federal climate data that have continually been a topic of heated discussion.