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Science, Space, and Technology Committee Announces Priorities for the 115th Congress

Press Release From: House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
Posted: Wednesday, February 1, 2017

U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, today released the following statement along with an outline of the committee’s top priorities for the 115th Congress.
 
Chairman Smith: “An active two years lay ahead of us as we have important work to do in the new Congress.  The Science Committee plans to create transparent environmental policies based on sound science and focused on innovation rather than regulation.  The committee will work to make sure every agency research dollar spent works for the taxpayers who fund them.  We’ll work to re-stake America’s leadership in STEM concentrations by crafting critical science education initiatives, and we will conduct rigorous oversight of cybersecurity standards and breaches at federal agencies to ensure all Americans’ private information is secure.  Rebalancing NASA’s portfolio and setting course for its future successes will also be a key priority this Congress.  I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and the new administration to carry out these goals to keep America at the forefront of the world’s scientific enterprises.”
 
Chairman Lamar Smith’s top five priorities for the committee in the 115th Congress are as follows:
 
Cutting Government Red Tape, Emphasizing Sound Science at EPA:  The Science Advisory Board Reform Act and the Secret Science Reform Act, both passed by the House of Representatives last Congress, will be revisited to further highlight the Environmental Protection Agency’s need to use sound science and transparent data to justify its rules and regulations.  EPA has long been on a path of regulatory overreach, and the committee will use the tools necessary to put EPA back on track.  Additionally, the committee intends to examine the Social Cost of Carbon, which has been previously used by the federal government to push a costly climate agenda with little transparency or accessibility by the American public.
 
Reforms to Department of Energy Programs:  The committee will continue to prioritize basic research at the Department of Energy, and will work to limit spending on late-stage commercialization programs that distort the energy market. Critical reforms are needed to ensure the Department of Energy spends limited federal research dollars on discovery science that the private sector cannot conduct, not loan guarantees and subsidies.  DOE is the largest sponsor of federal research in the physical sciences, and provides over 30,000 researchers access to scientific facilities here in the U.S. each year.  The committee will also prioritize investments in user facilities and research infrastructure, and will work to enact key reforms for the DOE national labs.  These bipartisan efforts will ensure that labs can effectively partner with privately funded, innovative entrepreneurs to discover the next technology breakthrough.
 
STEM Education and Reauthorization of NSF and NIST Programs:  Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education initiatives are a priority for the committee along with initiatives including computer science.  The READ Act, STEM, and major facilities reforms will be addressed under the paradigm of the National Science Foundation.  Cybersecurity will continue to be of critical importance as our nation moves forward, and reauthorizing the National Institute of Standards and Technology programs is needed to prioritize the labs and protect our country from vulnerable technologies that lead to cyberattacks.
 
Oversight of FDIC Cybersecurity Failures, FISMA, and Ongoing Investigations:  The technology used at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation has been subject to cybersecurity breaches and has subsequently prompted questions on the FDIC’s mismanaged response to China hacking into their systems.  The issue has caused a lengthy investigation which will likely conclude in early 2017.  The committee will continue to conduct robust government-wide cybersecurity oversight under its FISMA jurisdiction.
 
Constancy of Purpose within NASA:  The Committee will continue to ensure that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration pursues a balanced portfolio of programs reinvigorated with bold exploration objectives.  Building upon the progress made towards development of the Space Launch System, Orion, and the commercial crew and cargo programs, the committee will ensure NASA stays the course and leads the world in not only space exploration, but also space science.   
 
 
The following is the announced majority staff for the SST Committee in the 115th Congress:
 
Jennifer Young Brown will serve as chief of staff for the SST Committee, a position she has held since 2013, and previously served as chief of staff to Rep. Lamar Smith.
 
Mark Marin will serve as deputy chief of staff, and previously served as the staff director for both the subcommittee on environment and the subcommittee on energy.
 
Chris Wydler will serve as senior advisor and legislative director, and previously served as deputy staff director for the House Budget Committee.
 
Ashley Smith will serve as senior counsel and administrative director, a position she has held since 2013.
 
Molly Fromm will serve as general counsel, and previously served as counsel to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
 
Emily Domenech will serve as the staff director for the subcommittee on energy, and previously served as legislative director to former U.S. Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas).
 
Joseph Brazauskas will serve as the staff director for the subcommittee on environment, and previously served as counsel to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
 
Tom Hammond will serve as the staff director for the subcommittee on space.  Hammond has served the SST Committee in several capacities since 2001.
 
Cliff Shannon will serve as the staff director for the subcommittee on research and technology, and previously served as chief of staff to former U.S. Sen Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas).
 
Ashley Callen will serve as the staff director for the subcommittee on oversight, and previously served as deputy chief counsel to the House Agriculture Committee.
 
Kristina Baum will serve as the communications director, and previously served as press secretary to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.
 
Thea McDonald will serve as the press secretary, and previously served as the committee’s director of member services and jointly as press assistant.

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