House Republicans Pull Bill To Create Honorary Science Laureate Position

 US Capitol Building, Senate and House
US Capitol Building, Senate and House

Climate science is apparently so controversial for Republican members of the House of Representatives that they can't approve legislation that would create an honorary position of science laureate for the United States.

A bipartisan group of senators and House members proposed legislation in May to create this position for an expert in his or her field who "would travel around the country to inspire future scientists."

The president would select up to three laureates to serve terms of one to two years from a pool of candidates approved by the National Academy of Sciences. The laureates "would be empowered to speak to Americans on the importance of science broadly and scientific issues of the day."

But as Science reports, what was supposed to be an easy House vote this week to approve the honorary (read: unpaid) position was tabled after a conservative group objected:

The bill was never discussed in any committee, however, and Larry Hart of the American Conservative Union hit the roof when he saw it on the House calendar for the next day. (The Washington, D.C.-based group calls itself “the oldest and largest grassroots conservative organization in the nation.”) In a letter to other conservative organizations and every House member, Hart said the bill would give President Barack Obama the opportunity to appoint someone “who will share his view that science should serve political ends, on such issues as climate change and regulation of greenhouse gases.” He also called the bill “a needless addition to the long list of presidential appointments.”

House leadership pulled the bill from the schedule. It's now expected to go back to the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology for a debate.

But Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute told Science that climate-change deniers will object to the measure no matter what happens in committee. “There’s no way to make it work,” Ebell said. “It would still give scientists an opportunity to pontificate, and we’re opposed to it."



Politicians Mess Up Science