Via TPM, the Republicans have made Ralph Hall (R-TX) House Science and Technology Committee chair. He's got an impressive record:
The Texas representative is a strong supporter of the oil and gas industry and has voiced his support for opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling. The League of Conservation Voters has given him a zero-percent rating every year since 2004 due to his positions and votes on environmental issues.
He's also the guy who killed a House bill which would have increased funding for scientific research and math and science education by forcing Democrats to vote in favor of federal employees viewing pornography. As ranking member, Hall introduced a motion to recommit which would have changed the bill by sending it back to the committee with mandatory instructions, in this case barring the federal government from paying the salaries of employees who had been disciplined for viewing pornography at work.
Some of you will have seen the story in The Atlantic this month outlining how American kids rank below-average on international math and science tests. Texas, were it a country (and why, oh why, didn't we just let them leave?), would be almost identical in the rankings as the U.S. as a whole in math, between Latvia and the Russian Federation. (Illinois is about the same, sadly.) The only state that breaks into the top 20 is Massachusetts, slightly ahead of Solvenia and slightly behind Austria.
It's an astute policy choice for the GOP. The 87-year-old Hall—he's the oldest member of Congress in either house—has strong ties to the oil industry and voted against NAFTA in 1996. I'd go on about his science and technology credentials but, sadly, I couldn't find any.
Yes, the GOP is all about policy these days. Chairman Hall will fit right in.