Republican Co-Chair Of The R&D Caucus Only Likes Certain Research

WASHINGTON — Rep. John Culberson, the new Republican co-chair of the Congressional Research and Development Caucus, doesn’t necessarily value all research, especially not research that informs lawmakers about the American public.

The Texas congressman rates the caucus post because he chairs the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies, which has enormous influence over science budgets in the United States. For the most part, the science community was pleased that Culberson got the chairman’s job because he’s among the better defenders of science in the House — especially of NASA, whose Johnson Space Center is near his Houston district.

“The Constitution gives Congress authority in ‘promoting the progress of science,’ and we have a duty to ensure America remains the world leader in scientific and medical breakthroughs,” said Culberson in a statement Monday. “It all starts with R&D. The R&D projects our scientists tackle today will shape the world our children and grandchildren inherit and will determine America’s economic and military strength for generations to come.”

But the Constitution includes a research-related demand even before the duty to “promote the progress of science”: It requires the counting of all Americans through the Census. Along with that counting — ever since James Madison ran the Census — have come a number of questions designed to see how people in the country are doing. These days the ongoing American Community Survey gathers that information.

And Culberson is not interested in that research at all. “I have a lot of constituents who are concerned about the American Community Survey, the intrusiveness of it in a lot of areas,” he told Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker at a budget hearing earlier this month.

“I’m a big believer in privacy and our most important right as Americans is to be left alone, which is why I’m —> Read More