Friday, 7 December 1990 Washington, DC
1. ROE LEAVES THE HOUSE SCIENCE, SPACE AND TECHNOLOGY COMMITTEE!
All was quiet along the New Madrid fault this week, but a small
tremor shook Capitol Hill. Iben Browning didn't call this one--
but What's New did
(23 Nov 90). When Robert Roe (D-NJ) left the
Public Works Committee four years ago to become Chairman of SS&T
he made a little speech to a group of science policy types: "I
have," he proclaimed, "gone from the sewers to the stars." But
Wednesday, Roe leaped at the opportunity to go back to the sewers
after the Democrats ousted the infirm and unpopular Public Works
Chairman, Glenn Anderson (D-CA). The influence of SS&T declined
under Roe as a result the Deficit Reduction Act. By authorizing
everthing, SS&T ceded the real decision making to Appropriations.
2. GEORGE BROWN JR (D-CA) WILL SUCCEED ROE AS CHAIRMAN OF SS&T.
One of the few members of Congress with a technical background,
Brown fended off a strong challenge from Marilyn Lloyd (D-TN),
who chairs the Energy Research and Development Subcommittee.
Brown must now decide whether he also wants to head the Space
Science Subcommittee; he was expected to succeed Bill Nelson (D-
FL), who resigned to run unsuccessfully for Governor of Florida.
A strong advocate of civilian space programs and implacable foe
of space weapons, Brown lost a bitter battle with Nelson over
control of the Subcommittee four years ago. There are several
other vacancies on SS&T to be filled, including Chairman of the
Subcommittee on Science, Research and Technology, vacated by Tim
Valentine (D-NC), who is moving to the Appropriations Committee.
3. HAPPER IS EXPECTED TO BE THE NEW DIRECTOR OF ENERGY RESEARCH!
According to an informed Washington source who asked not to be
identified, William Happer Jr, professor of physics at Princeton
and a Fellow of the APS, will replace James Decker, who has been
the acting director of the Office of Energy Research since Robert
Hunter Jr resigned under a cloud a year ago. Happer, a highly
respected physicist, is the leading authority on optical pumping;
his 1972 article in Reviews of Modern Physics is the standard
reference on the subject. He is a member of Jason and has served
as its head. If the rumor is true, he faces the daunting task of
reconciling a stagnant budget with growing research expectations.
4. AUGUSTINE PANEL IS EXPECTED TO RELEASE WIMPY REPORT ON MONDAY.
The Advisory Committee on the Future of the US Space Program has
been described as "the last best hope" for the space program.
Its report, however, which is due out on Monday, will hardly be a
bold call for change. According to the Wall Street Journal, the
report will call for development of a costly new launch vehicle
and decreased reliance on the shuttle, plus a few modest changes
in NASA organization. It is hard to argue with phasing out the
shuttle, but the report, coming as it does from a commission
headed by the CEO of Martin Marietta and made up of industry and
NASA insiders, may be seen as self-serving. It gobbles the mind.