In DepthU.S. Congress

Polarizing head of House science panel to retire

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Science  10 Nov 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6364, pp. 708
DOI: 10.1126/science.358.6364.708

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Summary

Scientists are hoping that the retirement of Representative Lamar Smith (R–TX) is the first step toward a more civil science committee in the U.S. House of Representatives. On 2 November, Smith announced that he would not seek reelection next fall to a 17th term. Since becoming science committee chairman in January 2013, Smith has fought acrimonious battles with scientists over peer review, climate science, and the role of the federal government in supporting basic research. Many place him at the forefront of what some critics have dubbed a Republican “war on science.” Smith told constituents of his San Antonio, Texas–area district that “for several reasons, this seems like a good time” to step down. Representative Frank Lucas (R–OK) is seen as having the inside track to succeed Smith if the Republicans retain their House majority in the 2018 election. If the Democrats prevail, another Texan, Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson, is likely to take the gavel. In the meantime, Smith will serve one more year as chairman.