Rep. Sherwood Boehlert of New York announced on Friday that he is retiring, after more than two decades in Congress. One of the few Republicans in D.C. with sensible priorities on science and environmental protection, he has been the chair of the House Science Committee for the last few years. In that role, he has stood up to the Bush administration and the GOP leadership on a few issues where their priorities are badly misplaced. In particular, he has been vocal in favor of NASA's embattled Earth-observing missions and against harassment of scientists working on global warming issues.
Rather than replace Boehlert as head of the Science Committee with a GOP member who shares their hostility to much current scientific research on certain subjects, the House Republican leadership is reportedly considering the idea of simply abolishing the Science Committee. The Hill reported last week (via Space Politics):
GOP insiders were not surprised by [Boehlert's] announcement given that he had heart bypass surgery after winning reelection in 2004 and that House GOP leaders are considering a plan to abolish the Science Committee, which Boehlert chairs, as part of a plan to reorganize the committee structure.If they follow through with this idea, it would certainly be symbolic of the attitude of Washington Republicans towards science.