Meet the House GOP’s Anti-Science Committee
Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) told an audience this week that former colleague Todd Akin was “partly right” when he claimed women’s resist pregnancy from “legitimate rape.” Gingrey has something else in common with Akin — both used to serve on the House Committee on Science.
The House Science Committee is no sanctuary from scientifically dubious, non-empirical, “truthy” policy positions. Republican committee members have in recent years created an array of controversies over reproduction, climate change, and evolution.
In Gingrey’s case, he sat on the Science Committee earlier in his career, and at one time was the ranking member on the Science Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation. An OB/GYN, Gingrey is also the current chair of the GOP Doctor’s caucus.
For his part, Akin is no longer in Congress, having abandoned his seat to run for Senate against Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) last year, but he held a seat on the Science Committee until the day he left. After holding a dominant lead in the polls, Akin’s campaign collapsed after he told a reporter that he opposed abortion for rape victims in part because “if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
Akin wasn’t the only sitting committee member to delve into pseudo-science last year. Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) declared a holy war against anyone who doubted whether man and tyrannosaurus lived side by side.
“All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell,” Broun said at a banquet for a church sporting club. “And it’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior.”
Broun, who added that “I don’t believe that the Earth’s but about 9,000 years old,” will remain on the science committee in the 113th Congress.
Nor is it just the rank and file members who have drawn attention with their pronouncements. The outgoing committee chair, Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX), has suggested that climate change is the product of a mass global conspiracy of scientists — the overwhelming majority of whom have concluded that burning fossil fuels cause warming — to obtain grant money. In 2011, he told National Journal he didn’t believe climate change was man-made because “I don’t think we can control what God controls.”
“I’m really more fearful of freezing,” Hall said. “And I don’t have any science to prove that. But we have a lot of science that tells us [climate scientists are] not basing it on real scientific facts.”