Dana Rohrabacher, Lamar Smith Jockeying for House Science Committee Chairmanship

Rep. Dan Rohrabacher

By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) have begun to quietly campaign to replace Rep. Ralph Hall as chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology next year, according to Stu Witt, General Manager and CEO of the Mojave Air and Space Port.

Witt and his staff hosted a visit by Smith last week to familiarize the Republican Congressman with commercial space activities being undertaken at the California spaceport. Rohrabacher will be visiting the desert facility next Wednesday, Witt added during a meeting of the East Kern Airport District board.

Witt said the visits are part of an effort by both Congressman to build up support for their bids to replace Hall, will step down after six years as head of the powerful committee. Under House rules imposed by the Republican leadership, chairmen are limited to three, two-year terms.

The Mojave spaceport chief noted that both Smith and Rohrabacher have a deep interest in commercial space and unmanned aerial systems. Rohrabacher has been touring sites connected with both activities.

Rohrabacher has been arguably the most vocal supporter of commercial space activities in Congress. Most NewSpace supporters would be extremely pleased if he were to win the chairmanship of the committee. He represents California’s 46th congressional district and has served in Congress since 1989.

Smith represents Texas’ 21st district, which includes the wealthier sections of San Antonio and Austin and the Texas Hill Country. He has served in Congress since 1987.

Witt also hosted a visit on Tuesday by staffers from the House and Senate science committees.

  • Lamar Smith is the SOPA guy, who is still trying to squeeze media consumers on behalf of media moguls. What a sick excuse for a Republican. Dana is more or less ok by comparison, a real statesman. So, 10:1 Smith taking the position.

  • Jim Hillhouse

    Smith is senior to Rohrabacher and will likely get the chairmanship if he wants it. Nobody save the alt.space crowd wants Rohrabacher anywhere near the CST chairman’s seat.

  • So, there are term limits on committee chairmen. However, seniority is the main factor in choosing a successor. Where exactly does ability factor in here? It seems like half a reform.

  • Gary Anderson

    Lamar Smith proved he is no friend to space when he wanted to bail from the science committee and get on the Homeland Security Committee. Since that apparently wasn’t in the tea, he now wants the Chair of SST.

    No Thank you.

    I’ll take a supporter of commerical space. That is and only is, Rep Rohrabacher.

    Gary Anderson
    Massachusetts

  • Jim,

    The reason some people do not want Mr. Rohrabacher chairman is because they wish to retain the status quo. They want to continue programs that cost billions, fall behind schedule, and may never achieve what they were supposed to do.

    What is really funny in this entire debacle is that no one can tell us, TEA Party in Space, or anyone else for that matter, where they payloads for SLS are and who will pay for them. Also, SLS is going to cost near a billion per launch.

    Its not that SLS is bad, its just fiscally irresponsible.

    Respectfully,
    Andrew Gasser
    TEA Party in Space