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
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
Washington, D.C. – House Republican leaders today named Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) to a special taskforce that will address how the Republican party can work together to roll back regulatory burdens at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other federal agencies.
Chairman Smith: “Under the Obama administration the number and cost of government regulations has skyrocketed, killing jobs and costing the American economy billions of dollars per year. Hardworking families want their leaders in Washington to cut regulatory red tape and put America back on a path to growth and prosperity. I am pleased the Speaker has selected the Science Committee to help lead a taskforce that will find ways to reduce the burden of costly and unnecessary regulations.
“Everyone agrees that we need to protect the environment, but we must do so in a way that is open and honest. Unfortunately, the EPA and other federal agencies bend the law and stretch the science to justify their own objectives. Despite heavy and growing public opposition to these proposals, the Obama administration is actively going around Congress to commit the U.S. to costly new regulations that will do nothing to improve the environment but will negatively impact economic growth. I look forward to working with my Republican colleagues to come up with solutions to reduce regulatory burdens on hardworking American families.”
In their announcement, the Speaker’s Office said that the goal of the taskforce is to make it easier to invest, produce, and build things in America with a regulatory system that reduces bureaucracy and eases the burden on small businesses and job creators, while still protecting the environment, public safety, and consumer interests. Read More
Washington, D.C. – The House of Representatives today cleared the way for the bipartisan Research Excellence and Advancements for Dyslexia Act (READ Act) (H.R. 3033) to be signed into law. The READ Act, introduced by Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), supports important research to further our understanding of dyslexia, including better methods for early detection and teacher training.
Dyslexia affects an estimated 8.5 million school children and one in six Americans in some form. The House passed the READ Act last October with unanimous support and today approved a Senate amendment, officially sending the bill to the president’s desk for his signature.
Chairman Smith: “Today we can help millions of Americans have a brighter and more prosperous future. Despite the prevalence of dyslexia, many Americans remain undiagnosed, untreated and silently struggle at school or work. We need to enable those with dyslexia to achieve their maximum potential. I am glad that the House and Senate were able to work together and send the president a good bipartisan bill to help accomplish this goal.”
The READ Act requires the president’s annual budget request to Congress to include the Research in Disabilities Education program of the National Science Foundation (NSF). As amended, the bill requires the NSF to devote at least $2.5 million annually to dyslexia research, which would focus on best practices in the following areas:
•Early identification of children and students with dyslexia
•Professional development about dyslexia for teachers and administrators
•Curricula development and evidence-based educational tools for children with dyslexia
The READ Act authorizes dyslexia research projects using funds appropriated for the National Science Foundation. The bill would also authorize $2.5 million for research focused on other learning disabilities, including those which are also associated with dyslexia.
Chairman Smith introduced the READ Act with Rep. Julia Brownley (D-Calif.), who are co-chairs of the bipartisan Congressional Dyslexia Caucus. The Caucus is comprised of over 100 Members of Congress and is dedicated to increasing public awareness about dyslexia and ensuring that all students have equal educational opportunities. Read More