The day after 2012 general election, a campaign of a different sort formally got underway: the race to chair the House Science Committee. With current chairman Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX) term-limited by House Republican rules from remaining the chairman, three members are vying to take over the position. On Wednesday, Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI)—the current committee vice-chairman who also chaired the committee from 1997 until 2001—formally announced his candidacy for the job.
“I am seeking the chairmanship for the House Science Committee because our nation’s science and space policy is at a critical juncture,” he said in a statement. Later, he specifically cited NASA and commercial space policy as an area of interest to him: “Specifically, we must responsibly fund our research and development programs, refocus NASA and foster the developing private space industry, and put the United States back on a path toward being a leader in STEM education.”
Sensenbrenner is expected to face competition from two other members: Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Lamar Smith (R-TX). Smith currentlt chairs the House Judiciary Committee but, like Hall, is being term-limited out of that position. He confirmed to The Hill that he’s interested in seeking the science committee chairmanship, putting an emphasis on space issues. “It is important that NASA have a unifying mission,” he said. “Even though it has been almost 40 years since man last set foot on the moon, we should continue to shoot for the stars.”