HISTORY OF THE COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE
The Committee on Science has its roots in the intense
reaction to the Soviet launch of Sputnik on October
4, 1957. Early in 1958 Speaker Sam Rayburn convened
the House of Representatives, and the first order of
the day was a resolution offered by Majority Leader
John McCormack of Massachusetts. It read, "Resolved
that there is hereby created a Select Committee on Astronautics
and Space Exploration...."
The Select Committee performed its tasks with both speed
and skill by writing the Space Act creating the National
Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and chartering
the permanent House Committee on Science and Astronautics,
now known as the Committee on Science, with a jurisdiction
comprising both science and space.
The Science and Astronautics Committee became the first
standing committee to be established in the House of
Representatives since 1946. It was also the first time
since 1892 that the House and Senate acted to create
a standing committee in an entirely new area.
The Committee officially began on January 3, 1959, and
on its 20th Anniversary the Honorable Charles Mosher
said, the committee "was born of an extraordinary
House Senate joint leadership initiative, a determination
to maintain American preeminence in science and technology
The formal jurisdiction of the Committee on Science
and Astronautics included outer space - both exploration
and control - astronautical research and development
(R&D), scientific R&D, science scholarships,
and legislation relating to scientific agencies, especially
the National Bureau of Standards , the National Aeronautics
and Space Administration, the National Aeronautics and
Space Council and the National Science Foundation.
The Committee retained this jurisdiction from 1959 until
the end of the 93rd Congress in 1974. While the Committee's
original emphasis in 1959 was almost exclusively astronautics,
over this 15 year period the emphasis and workload expanded
to encompass scientific research and development in
In 1974, a Select Committee on Committees, after extensive
study, recommended several changes to the organization
of the House in H. Res. 988, including expanding the
jurisdiction of the Committee on Science and Astronautics,
and changing its name to the Committee on Science and
Jurisdiction over energy, environmental, atmospheric,
civil aviation R&D, and the National Weather Service
issues was added to the general realm of scientific
research and development.
In addition to these legislative functions, the Committee
on Science and Technology was assigned a "special
oversight" function, giving it the exclusive responsibility
among all Congressional standing committees to review
and study, on a continuing basis, all laws, programs
and government activities involving Federal nonmilitary
research and development.
In 1977, with the abolition of the Joint Committee on
Atomic Energy, the committee was further assigned jurisdiction
over civilian nuclear research and development thereby
rounding out its jurisdiction for all civilian energy
A committee's jurisdiction gives it both a mandate and
a focus. It is, however, the committee's chairman that
gives it a unique character. The Committee on Science
and Technology has had the good fortune to have nine
very talented and distinctly different chairmen, each
very creative in his own way in directing the committee's
Congressman Overton Brooks was the Science and Astronautics
Committee's first chairman, and was a tireless worker
on the committee's behalf for the two and one half years
he served as chairman.
When Brooks convened the first meeting of the new committee
in January of 1959, committee Member Ken Hechler recalled, "There was a sense of destiny, a tingle of realization
that every member was embarking on a voyage of discovery,
to learn about the unknown, to point powerful telescopes
toward the cosmos and unlock secrets of the universe,
and to take part in a great experiment." With that
spirit the committee began its work.
Brooks worked to develop closer ties between the Congress
and the scientific community. On February 2, 1959, opening
the first official hearing of the new committee Chairman
Brooks said, "Although perhaps the principal focus
of the hearings for the next several days will be on
astronautics, it is important to recognize that this
committee is concerned with scientific research across
the board." And so, from the beginning, the committee
was concerned with the scope of its vision.
Overton Brooks died of a heart attack in September of
1961, and the chairmanship of the committee was assumed
by Congressman George Miller of California.
Miller, a civil engineer, was unique among Members of
Congress who rarely come to the legislature with a technical
or scientific background. He had a deep interest in
science, and his influence was clearly apparent in the
broadening of the charter of the National Science Foundation
and the establishment of the Office of Technology Assessment.
He pioneered in building strong relationships with leaders
of science in other nations. This work developed the
focus for a new subcommittee established during his
chairmanship, known as the Subcommittee on Science,
Research and Development.
Just a few months before Miller became Chairman, President
John F. Kennedy announced to a joint session of Congress
the national commitment to land a man on the moon and
return him safely to Earth before the end of the decade.
Thus, during Miller's 11 year tenure as chairman, the
committee directed its main efforts toward the development
of the space program.
Chairman Miller was not reelected in the election of
1972, so in January of 1973, Olin E. Teague of Texas
took over the helm of the committee. Teague, a man of
directness and determination, was a highly decorated
hero of the Second World War. He was a long standing
Member of Congress and Chairman of the Veterans Committee
before taking over the chairmanship of the Science and
Throughout the 1960's and early 1970's, Teague chaired
the Science Committee's Manned Space Flight Subcommittee,
and in that capacity firmly directed the efforts to
send a man to the moon.
As chairman of the committee, Teague placed heavy emphasis
on educating the Congress and the public on the practical
value of space. He also prodded NASA to focus on the
industrial and human applications of the space program.
One of Teague's first decisions as chairman was to set
up a subcommittee on energy. During his six year leadership
of the committee, energy research and development became
a major part of the committee's responsibilities.
In 1976, Chairman Teague saw the fruition of three years
of intensive committee work to establish a permanent
presence for science in the White House. The Office
of Science and Technology Policy was established with
a Director who would also serve as the President's Science
Throughout his leadership, he voiced constant concern
that the complicated technical issues the committee
considered be expressed in clear and simple terms so
that Members of Congress, as well as the general public,
would understand the issues.
After six years as Chairman, Teague retired from the
committee and the Congress due to serious health problems
and was succeeded by Don Fuqua, a representative from
Fuqua became Chairman on January 24, 1979, at the beginning
of the 96th Congress. Don Fuqua came to the Congress
after two terms in the Florida State Legislature and
was, at age 29, the youngest Democrat in Congress when
he was elected in 1962.
Fuqua's experience on the Committee dated back to the
first day of his Congressional service. Since 1963,
he served as a Member of the Committee's Manned Space
Flight Subcommittee. When Olin Teague became chairman
of the full Committee in 1973, Fuqua took Teague's place
as chairman of the subcommittee.
As the subcommittee chairman he was responsible for
major development decisions on the Space Shuttle and
the successful Apollo Soyuz link up in space between
American astronauts and Soviet cosmonauts. Later, the
subcommittee's responsibility was expanded to cover
all other NASA activities and was renamed the Subcommittee
on Space Science and Applications.
As Chairman of the Committee, Fuqua's leadership could
be seen in the expansion of committee activities to
include technological innovation, science and math education,
materials policy, robotics, technical manpower, and
nuclear waste disposal. He worked to strengthen the
committee's ties with the scientific and technical communities
to assure that the committee was kept abreast of current
developments, and could better plan for the future.
During the 99th Congress, the Science and Technology
Committee, under Fuqua's chairmanship, carried out two
activities of special note:
" The Committee initiated a study of the nation's
science policy encompassing the 40 year period between
the end of the Second World War and the present. The
intent was to identify strengths and weaknesses in our
nation's science network. At the end of the 99th Congress,
Chairman Fuqua issued a personal compilation of essays
and recommendations on American science and science
policy issues in the form of a Chairman's Report.
" The second activity was a direct outgrowth of
the Space Shuttle Challenger accident of January 28,
1986. As part of the Committee's jurisdictional responsibility
over all the NASA programs and policies, a steering
group of Committee Members, headed by Congressman Robert
Roe, the Ranking Minority Member, conducted an intensive
investigation of the Shuttle accident. The Committee's
purpose and responsibility were not only the specific
concern for the safe and effective functioning of the
Space Shuttle program, but the larger objective of insuring
that NASA, as the nation's civilian space agency, maintain
organizational and programmatic excellence across the
Chairman Fuqua announced his retirement from the House
of Representatives at the termination of the 99th Congress.
He had served 24 years on the Committee on Science and
Technology and eight years as its Chairman.
Congressman Robert A. Roe of New Jersey, a long time
Member of the Committee, became its new Chairman at
the beginning of the 100th Congress. Congressman Roe
was trained as an engineer and brought that broad knowledge
and understanding to bear on the Committee's issues
from the first day of his tenure.
Congressman Roe's first official act as Chairman was
to request a change in the Committee's name from the
Committee on Science and Technology to the Committee
on Science, Space, and Technology. This change was designed
not only to reflect the Committee's broad space jurisdiction,
but also to convey the importance of space exploration
and development to the Nation's future.
In the 100th Congress, under Chairman Roe's stewardship,
the Committee kept close scrutiny over NASA's efforts
to redesign and reestablish the space shuttle program.
The successful launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery
in September 1988 marked America's return to space after
32 months without launch capability.
The vulnerability of having the nation's launch capability
concentrated singularly in the Space Shuttle, and the
rapid increase of foreign competition in commercial
space activities, precipitated strong Committee action
to help ensure the competitive posture of the Nation's
emerging commercial launch industry.
Chairman Roe's leadership to stabilize and direct the
Nation's space program led to the Committee's first
phase of multi year authorizations for research and
development programs with the advent of three year funding
levels for the Space Station.
Within the national movement to improve America's technological
competitiveness, Chairman Roe headed the Committee's
initiative to expand and redefine the mission of the
National Bureau of Standards in order for it to aid
American industry in meeting global technological challenges.
The Science Committee has a long tradition of alerting
the Congress and the Nation to new scientific and technological
opportunities that have the potential to create dramatic
economic or societal change. Among these have been recombinant
DNA research and supercomputer technology. In the 100th
Congress, Members of the Committee included the new
breakthroughs in superconductivity research in this
Several long term efforts of the Committee came to fruition
during the 101st Congress. As the community of space
faring nations expanded, and as space exploration and
development moved toward potential commercialization
in some areas, the need arose for legal certainty concerning
intellectual property rights in space. Legislation long
advocated by the Science Committee defining the ownership
of inventions in outer space became public law during
Continuing the Committee's interest in long range energy
research programs for renewable and alternative energy
sources, a national hydrogen research and development
program was established to lead to economic production
of hydrogen from renewable resources its use as an alternative
At the end of the 101st Congress, the House Democratic
Caucus voted Representative Roe Chairman of the Public
Works and Transportation Committee to fill the vacancy
in that Committee's Chairmanship.
The hallmark of Representative Roe's four year tenure
as Chairman was his articulation of science, space,
and technology as the well spring for generating the
new wealth for America's future economic growth and
long term security.
At the beginning of the 102nd Congress in January 1991,
Representative George E. Brown, Jr. of southern California
became the sixth Chairman of the Science, Space, and
Technology Committee. Trained in industrial physics,
Brown worked as a civil engineer for many years before
Elected to the Congress in 1962, Brown was a member
of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee since
1965. During his more than two-decade tenure on the
Committee before becoming its Chairman, he chaired subcommittees
on the environment, on research and technology, and
on transportation and aviation R&D.
Whether from his insightful leadership as a subcommittee
chairman or from the solitary summit of a futurist,
Brown brought a visionary perspective to the Committee's
dialogue by routinely presenting ideas far ahead of
the mainstream agenda.
George Brown talked about conservation and renewable
energy sources, technology transfer, sustainable development,
environmental degradation, and an agency devoted to
civilian technology when there were few listeners and
fewer converts. He tenaciously stuck to these beliefs.
Consistent with his long-held conviction that the nation
needed a coherent technology policy, Brown's first action
as Chairman was to create a separate subcommittee for
technology and competitiveness issues. During his initial
year as Chairman, Brown developed an extensive technology
initiative that was endorsed by the House of Representatives
in the final days of the 102nd Congress. The work articulated
Brown's concept of a partnership between the public
and private sectors to improve the nation's competitiveness.
The culmination of the 102nd Congress saw Brown's persistent
efforts to redirect our national energy agenda come
to fruition. The first broad energy policy legislation
enacted in over a decade included a strong focus on
conservation, renewable energy sources, and the expanded
use of non-petroleum fuels, especially in motor vehicles.
In Brown's continuing concern to demonstrate the practical
application of advances in science and technology, he
instituted the first international video-conferenced
meetings in the U.S. Congress. In March of 1992, Members
of the Science Committee exchanged ideas on science
and technology via satellite with counterparts from
the Commonwealth of Independent States. This pilot program
in the House of Representatives resulted in a decision
to establish permanent in-house capacity for video-conferencing
for the House.
As a final activity in the 102nd Congress, Brown issued
a Chairman's report on the Federally funded research
enterprise. The work was intended to as the starting
point for a comprehensive review and revision of federal
science policy currently in the planning stage.
The 1994 congressional elections turned over control
of the Congress to the Republican Party. The House Republican
Conference acted to change the official name of the
Committee from Science, Space, and Technology to the
Committee on Science. Robert S. Walker of Pennsylvania
became the Science Committee's first Republican Chairman,
and the seventh Committee Chairman. Walker had served
on the Science Committee since his election to Congress
in 1976, and had been the Ranking Member since 1989.
Chairman Walker acted to streamline the subcommittee
structure from five to four subcommittees: Basic Research,
Energy and Environment, Space and Aeronautics, and Technology.
This action reflected the new Congress' mandate to increase
efficiency and cut expenses, and also reflected Walker's
personal desire to refocus the Committee's work. Due
to the reduction in the number of subcommittees and
a sharper focus on the issues, the number of hearings
was reduced, while the number of measures passed by
the House and signed into law increased.
Chairman Walker chose to use the Full Committee venue
to hold hearings exploring the role of science and technology
in the future. The first hearing, "Is Today's Science
Policy Preparing Us for the Future?" served as
the basis for much of the Committee's work during the
For the first time in recent Science Committee history,
the Committee and the House of Representatives passed
authorizations for every agency under the Committee's
jurisdiction. To preserve and enhance the core Federal
role of creating new knowledge for the future, the Science
Committee sought to prioritize basic research policies.
In order to do so, the Committee took strong, unprecedented
action by applying six criteria to civilian R&D:
1. Federal R&D efforts should focus on long-term,
non-commercial R&D, leaving economic feasibility
and commercialization to the marketplace.
2. All R&D programs should be relevant and tightly
focused to the agencies' missions.
3. Government-owned laboratories should confine their
in-house research to areas in which their technical
expertise and facilities have no peer and should contract
out other research to industry, private research foundations
4. The Federal Government should not fund research in
areas that are receiving, or should reasonably be expected
to obtain, funding from the private sector.
5. Revolutionary ideas and pioneering capabilities that
make possible the impossible should be pursued within
controlled, performance-based funding levels.
6. Federal R&D funding should not be carried out
beyond demonstration of technical feasibility. Significant
additional private investment should be required for
economic feasibility, commercial development, production
The authorization bills produced by the Science Committee
reflected those standards, thereby protecting basic
research and emphasizing the importance of science as
a national issue. As an indication of the Science Committee's
growing influence, the recommendations and basic science
programs were prioritized accordingly.
During the 104th Congress, the Science Committee's oversight
efforts were focused on exploring ways to make government
more efficient; improve management of taxpayer resources;
expose waste, fraud and abuse, and give the United States
the technological edge into the 21st century.
The start of the 105th Congress brought another change
in leadership to the Committee.
Congressman F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr., a Republican
from Wisconsin, became the eighth Chairman after Chairman
Walker retired from Congress. Sensenbrenner had been
a member of the Committee since 1981 and prior to his
appointment as Committee head, he served as Chairman
of the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics.
At the start of the 105th Congress, the Speaker of the
House charged the Science Committee with the task of
developing a long-range science and technology policy.
Chairman Sensenbrenner appointed the Committee's Vice
Chairman, Representative Vernon Ehlers of Michigan,
to lead a study of the current state of the Nation's
science and technology policy. The National Science
Policy Study, entitled "Unlocking Our Future Toward
A New National Science Policy" was unveiled in
September 1998 and was endorsed by the Full House on
Oct. 8, 1998. The Science Policy Study continues to
serve as a policy guide to the Committee, Congress and
the scientific community.
The Science Committee played a crucial role in numerous
issues of national and international significance during
Chairman Sensenbrenner's tenure. Acting in accordance
with the Committee's jurisdiction over climate change
issues, Chairman Sensenbrenner was chosen by the Speaker
of the House to lead the U.S. delegation to the Kyoto
(Dec. 97), Buenos Aires (Nov. 98), and The Hague (Nov.
2000) global warming conferences. Under Chairman Sensenbrenner's
leadership, the Committee examined the science supporting
the Kyoto Protocol and the economic impacts the treaty
could have on the country.
Much of the world anxiously awaited midnight of January
1, 2000 to see if the Year 2000 (Y2K) computer problem
would cause the catastrophe that some had predicted.
The Science Committee through the Subcommittee on Technology,
Chaired by Constance Morella (R-MD), held its first
hearing on the Y2K problem in 1996 and held or participated
in over 30 hearings on the subject. The Committee's
aggressive oversight pushed federal agencies to meet
their deadlines to ensure the safety and well being
of American citizens. Thankfully, the U.S. and the world
experienced very minor problems associated with the
Over many years, and during the tenure of several chairmen,
the Science Committee closely monitored development
of the International Space Station. In October of 2000,
a crew of American and Russian astronauts became the
first inhabitants of the space station.
One of Chairman Sensenbrenner's priorities was to achieve
a steady and sustained growth in Federal R&D investments.
During his tenure, funding for civilian Federal R&D
increased by 39 percent. Funding for the National Science
Foundation increased percent, including its highest
ever appropriation in FY2001.
The start of the 107th Congress brought another change
in the Committee's leadership. Representative Sensenbrenner
was elected Chairman of the Judiciary Committee and
on January 3, 2001, Representative Sherwood L. Boehlert
from New York's 23rd Congressional District became the
new Chairman of the Committee on Science.
Boehlert had served on the Science Committee since first
taking office in 1983 and had earned a reputation for
independence, moderation and thoughtful leadership.
In his first speech as Chairman, Boehlert pledged to "build the Science Committee into a significant
force within the Congress," and "to ensure
that we have a healthy, sustainable, and productive
R&D establishment - one that educates students,
increases human knowledge, strengthens U.S. competitiveness
and contributes to the well-being of the nation and
With those goals in mind, Boehlert laid out three priorities
for the Committee -- "The Three E's" - science
and math education, energy policy, and the environment
- three areas in which Boehlert believed the resources
and expertise of the scientific enterprise could be
brought to bear on issues of national significance.
Under Boehlert's leadership, the Committee succeeded
in getting important legislation on these and other
priority areas signed into law.
Boehlert also reorganized the Subcommittees to reflect
these new priorities. The four Subcommittees became
Research; Energy; Environment, Technology and Standards;
and Space and Aeronautics.
In the energy area, the Committee unanimously approved
the research and development portions of the House-passed
Energy bill (H.R. 4). Committee provisions were designed
to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil by investing
in energy efficiency, renewable energy technologies,
improved nuclear energy technologies, and new fossil
fuel technologies, including clean coal.
On education, the Committee saw its major initiatives
in both K-12 and undergraduate education signed into
law as part of H.R. 4664, the National Science Foundation
authorization. Among the education initiatives were
the Committee's version of President George W. Bush's
proposal to establish National Mathematics and Science
Partnerships that will put our nation's universities
and businesses to work to help improve education.
On environment, the Committee passed legislation to
strengthen science at the Environmental Protection Agency
and brought attention to the science behind several
controversial issues, including arsenic in drinking
water, particulate air pollution and global climate
After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, terrorism
moved to the forefront of the Committee's agenda. Heeding
Chairman Boehlert's admonition that "the war on
terrorism will be won in the laboratory as much as on
the battlefield," the Science Committee worked
to ensure that the Federal Government was investing
in the science and technology necessary to combat terrorism
over the long term.
The Committee first turned its attention to cyberterrorism.
Boehlert's legislation to address these challenges had
broad bipartisan support in Congress, and on November
27, 2002, the "Cyber Security Research and Development
Act" was signed into law.
Under Boehlert's leadership, the Committee also took
the lead in responding to the concerns of family members
of September 11th victims, regarding the investigation
into the collapse of the World Trade Center. After two
high-profile hearings into the matter, the Committee
introduced legislation to enable the government to respond
more quickly to building failures and to overcome the
problems that plagued the World Trade Center investigation.
Signed into law on October 1, 2002, the legislation
puts the National Institute of Standards and Technology
in charge of all future building failure investigations.
The Committee also played a key role in the development
of legislation establishing a new Department of Homeland
Security, and led the push to make science and technology
a priority in the new Department. Committee proposals
creating an Under Secretary in charge of science and
technology, and a Homeland Security Advanced Research
Projects Agency were included in the final legislation,
signed into law on November 22, 2002.
The Committee also held hearings on how to strike the
proper balance between the need for openness to conduct
research successfully and the need for secrecy to protect
Finally, continuing the six-decade commitment of the
Science Committee "to maintain American preeminence
in science and technology," the Committee successfully
enacted legislation that sets the National Science Foundation
(NSF) on a path to doubling its budget over five years.
Chairman Boehlert and Subcommittee on Research Chairman
Nick Smith of Michigan led the bipartisan, bicameral
effort to ensure that future generations will continue
to reap the benefits of NSF's invaluable basic research.
In the 108th Congress, the Science Committee focused
its attention on charting space and ocean policy, strengthening
the U.S. economy by promoting research and innovation,
and enabling the U.S. to better respond to terrorism
and other emergencies by helping first responders.
Less than two months into the 108th Congress, the Space
Shuttle Columbia, with her crew of seven, broke apart
during reentry into Earth's atmosphere. This national
tragedy renewed debate over the future of human space
exploration. The Committee held several high profile
hearings into the cause of the accident and exercised
close oversight of the proceedings of the Columbia Accident
Investigation Board (CAIB), the independent investigative
body convened by the National Aeronautics and Space
Administration (NASA) to determine the cause of the
Since the CAIB report was issued in August 2003, the
Committee actively oversaw NASA's return-to-flight activities,
particularly the implementation of the CAIB recommendation
to establish an Independent Technical Authority at NASA.
The Committee also closely monitored the cost of return-to-flight
activities, and issues related to future Shuttle flights,
including whether to launch a Shuttle mission to repair
the Hubble Space Telescope.
The Columbia accident also prompted the President to
issue a new vision for NASA - to return humans to the
Moon and continue with a manned mission to Mars. Since
that announcement, the Committee has held hearings and
numerous briefings to evaluate the President's plan.
Chairman Boehlert applauded the President for giving
NASA a clear vision for the future, but also raised
questions about the funding of the proposal and about
its potential impact on NASA's work in Space and Earth
Science and aeronautics.
The Committee also passed two key bills related to NASA
and space flight, both of which were signed into law.
The NASA Flexibility Act of 2004, introduced by Chairman
Boehlert, gives NASA new personnel tools to attract
and retain a top-notch technical workforce. The Commercial
Space Launch Amendments Act of 2004, introduced by Space
Subcommittee Chairman Dana Rohrabacher of California,
creates a regulatory regime at the Federal Aviation
Administration for the commercial human space flight
industry, designed to encourage that industry's development
while providing information on the inherent risks in
space tourism and limiting that risk, as appropriate.
While the Committee was engaged in space policy, it
was also leading efforts to revamp ocean policy. In
May, 2004, Boehlert convened the first hearing in the
House on the Preliminary Report of the U.S. Commission
on Ocean Policy. The report described an oceanic ecosystem
that is fragile, threatened, and in dire need of national
attention and commitment.
Among the more than 200 recommendations included in
the report was a recommendation to pass an organic act
for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,
which would clearly define and codify the agency's mission
and functions. Representative Vernon Ehlers of Michigan,
the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Environment, Technology,
and Standards, introduced such legislation and held
a hearing on it.
Recognizing that innovation is the key to U.S. economic
success, the Committee also focused its efforts on strengthening
the U.S. research enterprise and American industry.
In December 2003, President Bush signed into law Chairman
Boehlert's 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and
Development Act, which authorized a better funded and
coordinated interagency program in nanotechnology -
an emerging field of science that the National Science
Foundation estimates will be a $1 trillion industry
within the next decade.
The President also signed into law the Department of
Energy High-End Computing Revitalization Act, which
was introduced by Energy Subcommittee Chairman Judy
Biggert of Illinois. The Act will foster research to
improve U.S. supercomputers and make them more available
to U.S. researchers.
Other Committee efforts to improve the economy included
the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control
Act, which will help combat a problem that costs U.S.
fisheries millions of dollars; and the National Windstorm
Impact Reduction Act, which sets up a new interagency
program to find ways to limit damage caused by windstorms
and which also reauthorizes the National Earthquake
Hazards Reduction Program, which has been successfully
discovering ways to limit earthquake damage since 1977.
Both bills were signed into law. The algal bloom legislation
was sponsored by Chairman Ehlers and the windstorm bill
by Representative Randy Neugebauer, a Republican from
Texas. The earthquake legislation began life as a separate
bill introduced by Michigan Representative Nick Smith,
Chairman of the Subcommittee on Research.
Several other measures to help the economy were passed
by the House, including the Manufacturing Technology
Competitiveness Act, introduced by Chairman Ehlers,
and the Green Chemistry Research and Development Act,
introduced by Republican Representative Phil Gingrey
As important as any legislation was the Committee's
effort to ensure that unnecessary visa delays did not
discourage the world's top students and researchers
from becoming part of the U.S. research enterprise.
In a series of hearings and through a Government Accountability
Office study, the Committee led a successful effort
to reduce the waiting time for visas. Chairman Boehlert
pointed out repeatedly that casting too wide a net in
the visa process hurt America's research capacity while
doing little to catch terrorists because the effort
was not appropriately targeted.
Terrorism was also on the Committee's mind in other
ways. The Committee continued its close oversight of
research and development at the Department of Homeland
Security, particularly in the area of cybersecurity.
The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 also highlighted
the critical role of our nation's first responders.
Two pieces of Committee legislation were enacted into
law that would bolster Federal support for U.S. fire
and emergency medical services. The Staffing for Adequate
Fire and Emergency Response Act established a new program
to provide grants to help fire departments hire firefighters.
The Assistance to Firefighters Grant Reauthorization
Act of 2004 increased funding for the FIRE grant program
- which provides competitively awarded grants directly
to fire departments for the purchase of needed equipment,
vehicles and training - and broadened the eligibility
requirements to allow emergency medical services to
also apply for the grants.