With the August recess looming large, members are slipping in the last partisan jabs they can before everyone retreats to the echo chambers of their respective districts.
During her opening statement on a resolution to authorize subpoenas for research data the Environmental Protection Agency uses to justify air quality regulations, House Science ranking member Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas got a little too personal, in the opinion of the panel’s Republicans.
She told Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, that “at so many turns this Congress, you’ve exhibited a baffling disregard for the scientific process and the academic and government scientific community in our country. This is just another example.”
“And for what do you seek this data?” Johnson asked. “What legitimate scientific researcher can’t already access this data? I have to assume you will be passing this data to — excuse my language — industry hacks. To so blatantly be doing the bidding of the polluting industries is simply mind-boggling.”
Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., swooped in to rescue his chairman, requesting that Johnson’s verbal assault be stricken from the record.
“I stand by my words,” Johnson said.
Hoping cooler heads might eventually prevail, the panel recessed for 10 minutes. Johnson and Smith didn’t even look at each other as they departed.
But when the committee returned, Johnson agreed to let her “offending words” be scrubbed and restated.
A Republican committee aide took issue with Johnson's claims. “During the meeting, Chairman Smith made clear that any personal health information that is in the data will be protected and removed before the data is made public. But he also made clear that the American people and American taxpayers who funded these studies have a right to see the information and determine whether the EPA is basing its regulations on sound science,” the aide said.