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Senate restructures science, commerce subcommittees

March 04, 2021
By: Jason Rittenberg

The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation announced a new structure for its subcommittees in the 117th Congress, bringing the total number from six to seven. The subcommittees are:

  • Aviation Safety, Operations, and Innovation – Chair Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Ranking Member Ted Cruz (R-TX);
  • Communications, Media, and Broadband – Chair Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) and Ranking Member John Thune (R-SD);
  • Surface Transportation, Maritime, Freight, and Ports – Chair Gary Peters (D-MI) and Ranking Member Deb Fischer (R-NE);
  • Oceans, Fisheries, Climate Change, and Manufacturing – Chair Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Ranking Member Dan Sullivan (R-AK);
  • Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security – Chair Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Ranking Member Marsha Blackburn (R-TN);
  • Space and Science – Chair John Hickenlooper (D-CO) and Ranking Member Cynthia Lummis (R-WY); and,
  • Tourism, Trade, and Export Promotion – Chair Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Ranking Member Rick Scott (R-FL).

The committee has not yet posted details on the jurisdiction of each subcommittee, but the titles are instructive.

Space and Science is likely to be responsible for Stevenson-Wydler authorizations, which include the Build to Scale program at the Economic Development Administration and technology transfer policies for federal labs. Previously, these issues were the jurisdiction of the Subcommittee on Science, Oceans, Fisheries, and Weather. This subcommittee will likely also oversee NASA, which was previously under the Subcommittee on Aviation and Space.

In the new Congress, manufacturing issues, including the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, will presumably be under Oceans, Fisheries, Climate Change, and Manufacturing. Previously, manufacturing was in the jurisdiction of the Subcommittee on Manufacturing, Trade, and Consumer Protection.

The role that “innovation” in the new Subcommittee on Aviation Safety, Operations, and Innovation will play in defining the subcommittee’s jurisdiction currently is unclear. Previously, “innovation” was part of the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation and the Internet, but the panel’s jurisdiction was largely defined in terms of telecommunications (now the Subcommittee on Communications, Media, and Broadband).

The full committee chair is Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and the ranking member is Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS).

congress, science