Washington, D.C. – The Science, Space, and Technology Committee today approved the FAA Leadership in Groundbreaking High-Tech R&D Act, or FLIGHT R&D Act, a bill introduced by Rep. Steve Knight (R-Calif).
Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas): “The FLIGHT R&D Act ensures that America remains at the forefront of civil aviation innovation and strengthens the FAA’s ability to defend against cybersecurity threats. We should make strategic investments today that will enable America to continue to push the boundaries of aerospace science, maintain a safe and secure aviation transportation system, and allow for a healthy and growing aviation economy.
“It is unfortunate that the minority attempted to use petty dilatory tactics to block consideration of important legislation. Rather than debate the merits of particular amendments to the bill, the minority tried to obstruct the Committee from doing its business on behalf of the American people. The Ranking Member falsely claimed that the majority scheduled the markup to intentionally create scheduling conflicts for minority members. In fact, the meeting was noticed last Friday. Inevitably, more than one committee is going to be meeting at the same time. Members face conflicts every week. But Members should be able to set their priorities. The majority consulted with the minority throughout the process, complied with all House rules, and stood ready to accept six minority amendments, including that of the Ranking Member. The minority tried to shut down consideration of the bill in order to avoid voting against amendments that would improve aviation safety for the American people.”
The Science Committee has jurisdiction over all civil aviation research and development. Read More
H.R. 4489, the “FAA Leadership In Groundbreaking High-Tech Research and Development Act” (FLIGHT R&D Act), approved, as amended, by voice vote
Loudermilk 004, offered by Mr. Loudermilk (R-GA), approved by voice vote
Weber 005, offered by Mr. Weber (R-TX), Babin 006, offered by Mr. Babin (R-TX ), Posey 007, offered by Mr. Posey (R-FL), Hultgren 008, offered by Mr. Hultgren (R-IL), Bridenstine 009, offered by Mr. Bridenstine (R-OK), and Lucas 011, offered by Mr. Lucas (R-OK), approved, en bloc, by voice vote
Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) Read More
Washington, D.C. – The House of Representatives today passed the bipartisan Scientific Research in the National Interest Act (H.R. 3293) to ensure that the National Science Foundation (NSF) is open and accountable to the taxpayers about how their hard-earned dollars are spent.
Introduced by Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), the bill requires that each NSF grant award be accompanied by a non-technical explanation of how the project serves the national interest. This written justification is intended to affirm NSF’s determination that a project is worthy of taxpayer support. The bill passed the House by a vote of 236 – 178.
Chairman Smith: “America’s future economic growth and national security depend on innovation. Public and private investments in research and development (R&D) fuel the economy, create jobs and lead to new technologies that benefit Americans’ daily lives. Unfortunately, in recent years, the federal government has awarded too many grants that few Americans would consider to be in the national interest.
For instance, the NSF awarded $700,000 of taxpayer money to support a climate change-themed musical that quickly closed. And almost one million dollars for a social media project that targeted Americans’ online political speech. A few other examples of questionable grants include:
$487,000 to study the Icelandic textile industry during the Viking era;
$340,000 to study early human-set fires in New Zealand;
$516,000 to help amateurs create a video game to "Relive Prom Night."
$233,000 to study ancient Mayan architecture and their salt industry; and
$220,000 to study animal photos in National Geographic magazine.
“When the NSF funds such projects there is less money to support worthwhile scientific research that keeps our country on the forefront of innovation. Such areas include computer science, advanced materials, lasers, telecommunications, information technology, development of new medicines, nanotechnology, cybersecurity and dozens of others that hold the greatest promise of revolutionary scientific breakthroughs. These sectors can create millions of new jobs and transform society in positive ways. This bill ensures that a project’s benefits are clearly communicated to earn the public’s support and trust. Researchers should embrace the opportunity to better explain to the American people the potential value of their work. This bill is an essential step to restore and maintain taxpayer support for basic scientific research.”
The NSF has recognized the need for increased transparency and accountability and has recently implemented an internal policy consistent with the national interest criteria. This legislation makes this commitment permanent.
At a Science Committee hearing last year, NSF Director France Córdova agreed with a legislative effort to uphold a national interest standard for taxpayer-funded research grants. The Scientific Research in the National Interest Act is virtually identical to a provision that passed the House last year as part of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2015.
The bill clearly states, “Nothing in this section shall be construed as altering the Foundation’s intellectual merit or broader impacts criteria for evaluating grant applications.”
The following bipartisan members of the Science Committee are original cosponsors: Reps. Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.); Frank Lucas (R-Okla.); Alan Grayson (D-Fla.); Barbara Comstock (R-Va.); John Moolenaar (R-Mich.) Randy Weber (R-Texas); Stephen Knight (R-Calif.); Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla); Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.); Brian Babin (R-Texas); Mo Brooks (R-Ala.); Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.); Bill Johnson (R-Utah); Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.); Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas); Bill Posey (R-Fla.); Gary Palmer (R-Ala.); and Ralph Abraham (R-La.). Read More
Washington, D.C. – The Science, Space, and Technology Committee today held a hearing to examine executive branch overreach surrounding regulations that are often rushed through toward the end of a presidential administration, commonly referred to as “midnight regulations.” Witnesses discussed proposed regulations by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas): “Despite heavy and growing public opposition, the Obama administration is actively willing to commit the U.S. to costly new regulations that will do nothing to improve the environment but will negatively impact economic growth. Yesterday, the Supreme Court blocked the administration’s rules to limit greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. The Court’s ruling confirms that this rule overreaches EPA's authority. But nothing seems to deter President Obama from achieving his extreme and unconstitutional climate agenda. Now the president plans to rush through even more regulations. The DOE now works to issue costly energy efficiency rules on everything from household appliances to vending machines, including ceiling fans, air conditioning and heating equipment, and residential boilers.
“These proposed regulations will have an even greater adverse impact on those who live on fixed incomes, such as the elderly and the poor, who are the most vulnerable to increases in the price for basic necessities like electricity and heat. More should be done to hold this administration accountable. We must cut regulatory red tape and put America back on a path to growth and prosperity.”
Video of the Chairman’s full statement is available HERE.
In 2015, the Obama administration finalized some of the most broad environmental regulations in the history of the United States – the Waters of the United States, the Clean Power Plan, and Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards. In the final year of this administration, EPA is already undertaking a number of new rules that will have broad ranging impacts on the energy producing sector. DOE has also seen an increase in promulgated regulations during the Obama administration.
Witnesses today said that the speed at which these regulations are being finalized provides little certainty that these rules are based on a sound and transparent review of the underlying scientific data and analysis.
In the past year, the Department of Energy (DOE) proposed 15 new energy efficiency standards, compared with just five energy efficiency standards proposed between 2009 and 2012. DOE is now working to issue costly energy efficiency rules on everything from household appliances to vending machines, including ceiling fans, air conditioning and heating equipment, and residential boilers.
According to the American Action Forum (AAF), regulatory costs topped $197 billion in 2015. This is a cost of over $600 for every American citizen. For 2016 alone, the Obama administration has proposed another $98 billion in regulatory costs.
Last week, the Speaker selected the Science Committee to help lead a taskforce to reduce costly and unnecessary regulatory burdens.
The following witness testified today:
Ms. Karen Kerrigan, President and CEO, Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council
Mr. Jerry Bosworth, President, Bosworth Air Conditioning
Ms. Kateri Callahan, President, Alliance to Save Energy
Mr. Sam Batkins, Director of Regulator Policy, American Action Forum
For more information about today’s hearing, including witness testimony and the hearing webcast, please visit the Committee’s website. Read More
Washington, D.C. – Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today released the following statement in response to the president’s budget proposal.
Chairman Smith: “Today we received another unrealistic budget from the president that spends money we don’t have and increases taxes on Americans by $2.6 trillion over 10 years. This level of spending insults hardworking American families who don’t want to be burdened with higher taxes and slower economic growth.
“Investments in science and technology have clear benefits for Americans. But the president continues to focus on costly, ineffective energy subsidies and taxes, like a new $10.25 per barrel federal tax on oil.
“House Republicans will continue to eliminate wasteful spending, reduce government regulations and find solutions to advance job creation and economic growth. The House Science Committee is working on behalf of taxpayers to make our federal scientific enterprise more efficient, effective and accountable. Tomorrow the House will consider the Scientific Research in the National Interest Act, a good government bill to ensure federal scientific grants at the National Science Foundation are worthy of taxpayer funding.
“We must also cut regulatory red tape and put America back on a path to growth and prosperity. I am pleased the Speaker last week selected me as chairman of the Science Committee to help lead a taskforce that will find ways to reduce the burden of costly and unnecessary regulations. As part of this effort, tomorrow the Science Committee will hold a hearing to examine regulations the Obama administration is attempting to rush through in his final year. Americans can’t afford extreme and rushed EPA regulations with little environmental benefit but heavy costs to our economy.
“This administration cannot continue to tout plans to send astronauts to Mars while strangling the programs that will take us there. President Obama’s FY17 budget proposal shrinks our deep space exploration programs by more than $800 million. And the administration once more proposes cuts of more than $100 million to the Planetary Science accounts, which have previously funded missions like this past year’s Pluto flyby. At the same time this proposal shrinks space exploration priorities within NASA’s budget, it disproportionately increases Earth Science accounts to more than $2 billion – a seventy percent increase since 2007. This imbalanced proposal continues to tie our astronauts’ feet to the ground and makes a Mars mission all but impossible. This is not the proposal of an administration that is serious about maintaining America’s leadership in space.” Read More
Washington, D.C. – Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today released the following statement in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling to halt President Obama’s energy regulations.
Chairman Smith: “Today’s Supreme Court ruling to block a cornerstone of President Obama's climate plan is a significant win for Americans who believe in limited government. The EPA’s far-reaching energy regulations would shut down power plants and negatively impact energy consumers and local communities. Today’s ruling confirms that this rule overreaches EPA's legal authority. I applaud the court for recognizing this administration’s extreme climate agenda as an unconstitutional intrusion on states' rights.” Read More
Shrouding government action on everything from the environment to veterans health in darkness is a big step backwards.
When President Obama took office, he vowed to run “the most transparent administration in history.” As his presidency draws to an end, those words would be laughable if the issue were not so serious.
At nearly every turn, this administration has blocked public disclosure and ignored almost every law intended to ensure open and accountable government.
Hillary Clinton’s private email server is just the latest, most public example. Numerous other incidents involve the concealment of documents, providing only partial information, slow-walking congressional requests and using private email accounts and secret meetings to avoid official records-keeping laws. These sorts of tactics have become common practice for this administration.
The most brazen examples occasionally get media attention: Former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson created a fictitious email address under the alias name “Richard Windsor,” hiding official actions from public scrutiny. But more typically, the pervasive stonewalling does not make headlines.
Congress isn’t alone on the Obama administration’s enemies list. According to an analysis of federal data by the Associated Press (AP), the Obama administration set new records two years in a row for denying the media access to government files. According to the AP, “The government took longer to turn over files when it provided any, said more regularly that it couldn’t find documents and refused a record number of times to turn over files.”
Moreover, in an unprecedented letter to several congressional committees, 47 inspectors general, who are the official watchdogs of federal agencies, complained that the Justice Department, EPA and others consistently obstruct their work by blocking or delaying access to critical information. Worse yet, the White House and Secretary Clinton refused to install an Inspector General during her tenure at the State Department.
It is the job of Congress and our agency watchdogs to ensure the federal government is efficient, effective and accountable to the American people. But time and time again, this administration has dismissed Americans’ right to know.
When Department of Veterans Affairs bureaucrats place themselves ahead of the veterans they are charged with serving, it’s Congress’ job to get answers. But VA’s stonewall tactics are interfering with this vital task. It’s been more than 18 months since the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs revealed VA’s delays in care crisis to the nation, yet the department is sitting on more than 140 requests for information from the committee regarding everything from patient wait times to disciplinary actions for failed employees. VA’s disregard for congressional oversight was on full display Oct. 21, when committee Democrats and Republicans voted unanimously to subpoena five bureaucrats VA had refused to make available to explain their role in a scheme that resulted in the misuse of more than $400,000 in taxpayer money. Later, at a Nov. 2 follow-up hearing, two of the subpoenaed VA employees invoked their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
When the Internal Revenue Service improperly targets conservative organizations, it’s Congress’ job to get answers. When the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives runs a failed and flawed sting operation intentionally providing hundreds of firearms to Mexican cartels, it’s Congress’ job to get answers. When events surrounding terrorist attacks in Benghazi on the anniversary of 9/11 are hidden from the public, it’s Congress’ job to get answers.
But Congress cannot do its job when an administration refuses to turn over information. That’s why Congress has increasingly resorted to the power of the pen and has issued numerous legally-binding subpoenas to various Obama Administration agencies, including the Department of Justice, the State Department, the Treasury Department, the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Reserve Board, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Office of Management and Budget, among others.
Whether it is the necessity of holding agency heads in contempt of Congress or pursuing civil litigation to gain access to clearly relevant material or the improper invocation of executive privilege or a new “confidential communications” privilege this administration made up out of whole cloth, Congress has been forced to spend far too much time and resources gaining access to documents which it is clearly entitled to.
But perhaps the honor of the least transparent agency in the federal government belongs to the EPA.
Everyone wants clean air and water. But Americans want environmental regulations to be based on sound science, not science fiction or radical political manifestos. When the EPA refused to release the data it uses to justify its proposed air regulations, the historically bipartisan House Science Committee was compelled to issue its first subpoena in 21 years to retrieve the information.
Last year, the House passed the Secret Science Reform Act of 2015 to require the EPA to base its regulations on publicly-available data, not secret science. This allows independent scientists the opportunity to evaluate EPA’s claims and check their work. Who could argue against using open and transparent science to support regulation? Answer: the Obama administration.
It’s not surprising that the non-partisan Center for Effective Government gave the EPA a grade of “D” in its most recent report for poor performance in providing access to information.
This administration has created an unprecedented culture of secrecy that starts at the top and extends into almost every agency. While Congress is being thwarted in its efforts at oversight, it is really the American people who lose when those entrusted to enforce the law believe and act as if they are above it. It’s time to come clean, Mr. President. Don’t let a lack of transparency be your legacy.
Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, is chairman of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., is chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs. Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., is chairman of the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., is chairman of the Select Committee on Benghazi. Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, is chairman of the Committee on Financial Services. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, is chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
In addition to its own editorials, USA TODAY publishes diverse opinions from outside writers, including our Board of Contributors. To read more columns like this, go to the Opinion front page. Read More