4 January 2013
AGU Science Policy Alert 13-2
The 2012 elections produced a large turnover of members of Congress, with many losing reelection bids and others retiring. The 113th Congress begins work this week, and includes 79 freshman members. In addition to new members, there are shifts in positions and committee assignments. Keeping his gavel, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH-8) was re-elected as the Speaker of the House, and Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA-12) will also keep her position as House Minority Leader. Senate leadership remains the same, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Important leadership changes for the science community include a new chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX-21). Budget and appropriations leadership is also changing. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) will be Chair of the Senate Budget Committee, and with the passing of longtime science supporter Senator Inouye (D-HI), the head seat on the Senate Appropriations Committee will need to be filled in the 113th Congress.
With a Democrat-controlled Senate and Republican-controlled House, it will take ample negotiations and commitment by both parties to reach agreements on important issues such as sequestration, federal budgets, the debt ceiling, and other legislation such as supplemental appropriations for Superstorm Sandy damages.
The beginning of a new Congress is a great time to contact your legislators, welcoming them into office if they are new Members. It is important to build relationships with your legislators to keep science policy issues on their minds. You can be a resource for your Representative and Senators and provide them with scientific information and examples that show the societal benefits of science.
The AGU website has a multitude of resources including a listing of the new members of Congress as well as tips on how to connect and prepare you for meeting with legislators. AGU Public Affairs staff are also available to answer any questions and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.