Issue Date: December 3, 2012
Changes Afoot On Capitol Hill
Changes are under way for congressional leadership of committees that will address energy, climate change, science, and environmental issues in the 113th Congress, which starts in January.
Last week, Republicans in the House of Representatives selected Rep. Lamar S. Smith (R-Texas) to lead the House Committee on Science, Space & Technology, taking over from Rep. Ralph M. Hall (R-Texas). Hall remains on the committee but stepped down as chairman because of Republican-imposed term limits for committee leaders. Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) and James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.) had also sought the chairmanship but were rebuffed by fellow Republicans. It is expected that Democrat Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (Texas) will retain her position as ranking minority member.
Smith, a lawyer, has served in the House for 26 years. He has been an advocate for science, technology, and space exploration as well as a supporter of federal aid to increase oil and gas production. He is a climate-change skeptic.
Also in the House, Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) announced several subpanel changes because of Republican election losses. The powerful Oversight & Investigations Subcommittee will now be led by Rep. Tim F. Murphy (R-Pa.). During the past two years, the subcommittee held several long-running investigations into President Barack Obama’s loan and funding support for developers of new energy sources, particularly a series of hearings into the Administration’s loan guarantee for the failed solar energy company Solyndra.
Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.), an active Energy & Commerce member, will take over leadership of the Commerce, Manufacturing & Trade Subcommittee.
Leadership of the House Homeland Security Committee will shift to Rep. Michael T. McCaul (R-Texas), who will take over from New York’s Rep. Peter T. King, also because of Republican term limitations.
On the Senate side, it is expected that Sen. Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.) will replace retiring Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) as chairman of the Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee, and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) will replace Sen. Susan M. Collins (R-Maine) as the top committee Republican on the panel. Carper announced last week that he intends to meet with Coburn to set committee priorities.
Other expected changes in the Senate include Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) taking over leadership of the Energy & Natural Resources Committee next year, while Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) will retain her position as ranking minority member.
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