The full House Science Committee, which will be devoting attention this year to NASA and commercial space transportation among other topics, emerged from a closed-door retreat on Tuesday with plans to work across party lines on key issues. “Newspaper headlines insist that Capitol Hill is hopelessly gridlocked. I want the Science, Space, and Technology Committee to be the exception,” said Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), chairman of the committee, in a post-retreat press release. “This bipartisan retreat sets a good tone of cooperation for what can be a year of bipartisan achievements.”
The ranking member of the full committee, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), shared those sentiments in the same statement. The committee, she said, “has much important work to do in the 113th Congress and the only way we will be able to get it done is through bipartisanship.” What the committee members discussed in the committee wasn’t disclosed, but they did have a couple of celebrity guests: Neil deGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye, the latter noting on Twitter that they were at the retreat to remind the committee “of the great value of science.”
Neil and I about to remind the Science Committee of the great value of science. twitter.com/TheScienceGuy/…
— Bill Nye (@TheScienceGuy) February 5, 2013
Speaking yesterday at the FAA Commercial Space Transportation Conference in Washington, Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD), the ranking member of the committee’s space subcommittee, also welcomed bipartisan cooperation she expected on space issues in the committee. “There really is a sense—and Chairman Smith has certainly indicated this—that we are really going to, as much as possible, return the Science Committee to one that really does think about the future,” she said.
Edwards said that she and the subcommittee’s chairman, Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-MS), have a “great working relationship” that will extend to work this year on a new NASA authorization bill that can establish objectives and funding levels that appropriators can fulfill with their separate funding bills. “I hope that the chairman and I are able to work on realistic goals, that we’re able to set a course that Mr. [Chaka] Fattah and his colleagues and his colleagues are able to resource,” she said, referring to the ranking member of the Commerce, Justice, and Science subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee.