committee leadership, science funding, Indian consternation

The Dallas Morning News confirmed Tuesday that two Dallas-area representatives, Ralph Hall (R) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D) are in the race to become the new chair and ranking member, respectively, of the House Science and Technology Committee. Hall’s office in particular notes that Hall has “almost been assured” their chairmanship, with no discussion of any potential competition from either Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) or Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI)

Four former or retiring members of Congress talked about science policy issues in a Science magazine roundtable recently, with an eye towards how the new Congress and its expected fiscal conservatism will affect science programs. While not discussing NASA directly, one participant, former House Science Committee chairman Sherwood Boehlert suggested considering science funding as a “national security” item and thus protected from budget cuts. “When a lot of the conversation is about the next Congress cutting or freezing all non-national security spending, we ought to take [science] funding and put it under the national security umbrella. Because it is a question of national security-lessening dependence on foreign oil, competitiveness, providing opportunities for our young people, creating jobs.”

The meeting between President Obama and Indian Prime Minister Singh resulted in a number of announcements, including a civil space fact sheet (Word .docx format). The fact sheet doesn’t appear to contain any major developments, talking about continuing earth observation cooperation as well as plans to “continue preliminary discussion on Human Space Flight cooperation.” That last passage, though, appears to have caused some consternation in the Indian space community, which was caught off-guard about the inclusion of human spaceflight into the statement. Officials told the Times of India that it was an “embarrassing situation” as just a month and a half ago ISRO chairman K. Radhakrishnan had said there was no immediate plan for India to participate in the ISS. However, there doesn’t seem to be any contradiction, since there’s nothing in the fact sheet about the ISS, or anything else beyond “preliminary discussion” about human spaceflight.


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