On February 8, 2019, Rep. Randy Weber received his committee assignments for the 116th Congress. He serves on the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology (SST) as Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Energy, and he serves on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I), with subcommittee assignments to: Water Resources and Environment; Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation; and Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials.
“These two committees mean a great deal to my district, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to once again serve on Science, Space, and Technology and Transportation and Infrastructure,” noted Rep. Weber.
Science, Space and Technology
Subcommittee on Energy, Ranking Member
On SST, Rep. Weber looks forward to advancing nuclear research priorities and reforms that prioritize the use of limited research dollars. In 2018, Rep. Weber and Sen. Mike Crapo (R–ID) saw their bill, the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act, signed into law by President Trump.
Ranking Member Weber’s Statement:
It is an honor to be asked to serve as the Ranking Member for the Subcommittee on Energy. We will continue working toward our nuclear research priorities and reforms that prioritize the use of limited research dollars; we cannot be left behind in this field. In a bipartisan fashion, we will focus on reauthorizations and continued oversight of the Department of Energy. The work of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee is fast-paced, future-focused, and enjoyable. Our areas of jurisdiction are exciting and filled with opportunities for exploration and advancement. I look forward to serving alongside full committee Chairwoman Johnson and Ranking Member Lucas, Energy Subcommittee Chairman Lamb, and our fellow colleagues.
Rep. Weber’s Priorities for SST
Cut Wasteful Spending. At the Department of Energy (DOE), we must prioritize basic research and discovery science that the private sector cannot conduct. Over the past decade, the DOE budget increased over 70 percent, and many of the programs evolved from basic research and development (R&D) to attempts at commercialization through applied research, technology development and deployment, and demonstration activities. It is not the role of government to make energy technologies cost-competitive or to subsidize their commercialization.
Advance Nuclear Research. America must maintain our R&D capabilities and continue to develop cutting edge nuclear technology here at home. Our nuclear bill prioritizes nuclear R&D infrastructure that will enable the private sector to invest in advanced reactor technologies and provide a clear path forward to attract private investment for prototype development at DOE laboratories. In addition, it provides statutory direction for a proposed DOE reactor-based fast neutron source that will operate as an open-access user facility and enable researchers to conduct academic and proprietary research in the U.S. Currently, Russia is the only country with this capability. Nuclear energy can be a clean, cheap answer for an energy independent, pro-growth, secure future, if we allow the science and market forces to prevail.
Invest in National Labs and Research Infrastructure. We need increased access to DOE National Laboratories and Technology Centers, as well as prioritized funding for the DOE’s Office of Science. The National Labs provide over 30,000 researchers with access to scientific facilities and research infrastructure here in the U.S. We must also prioritize key investments in DOE user facilities to ensure access for privately funded, innovative entrepreneurs that can lead to the next technological breakthrough.
Transportation and Infrastructure
Infrastructure remains a key priority for TX-14, as well as the nation. This Congress, T&I reauthorized both surface transportation and water resources legislation, which were simultaneously up for renewal in 2020. Unfortunately, the Pipeline Safety Act—which expired on September 30—was bogged down by partisan politics.
I am proud to be an original co-sponsor of H.R. 7248, the “Surface Transportation Advanced through Reform, Technology, and Efficient Review” (STARTER) Act, introduced on June 18, 2020. This commonsense alternative to the partisan “My Way or the Highway” bill, foisted on the American people by Speaker Pelosi and the House Majority, is a commonsense, five-year surface transportation re-authorization bill offered by T&I Republicans to allow states and non-federal partners to more efficiently plan, expedite, and undertake important infrastructure projects, provide safer and more efficient movement of goods and people, and address infrastructure needs of communities of all sizes.
The bill focuses on key principles advocated by Republicans this year:
- Ensuring state flexibility
- Streamlining the project delivery process to maximize available funding
- Prioritizing core programs and functions of our existing federal surface transportation programs
- Incorporating innovative developments in technology to improve our infrastructure
- Providing for the infrastructure needs of America’s rural communities
- Addressing the long-term sustainability of the Highway Trust Fund
T&I Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation
On July 21, 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the bipartisan Elijah E. Cummings Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2020, legislation to authorize funds for, reinforce, and support the United States Coast Guard, as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The House passed similar legislation in July 2019, but the Senate failed to act. The bill will now be reconciled in conference with the Senate NDAA.
The Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation conducts oversight of the United States Coast Guard, the Service responsible for enforcing the Nation’s laws on waters under U.S. jurisdiction and on the high seas. The Coast Guards many missions include search and rescue, illegal drug and migrant interdiction, oil spill prevention and response, maritime safety and security, maintaining aids to navigation, ice-breaking, and enforcement of U.S. fisheries and marine pollution laws.
The Subcommittee also has jurisdiction over regulation of ocean shipping and the merchant marine, except as it relates to national security.
One of the Subcommittee’s regular priorities is legislation to authorize the Coast Guard’s programs and to support and strengthen the important missions of one of the Nation’s five armed services.
T&I Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials
I am proud to be an original co-sponsor of H.R. 5175, the Pipeline Safety Improvement Act of 2019, when it was introduced on November 19, 2019. This commonsense legislation offered by T&I Republicans would reauthorize the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and improve federal safety programs. Rather than working with the Republican minority, the majority instead passed—on November 23, 2019—a highly partisan pipeline bill that failed to address the most pressing needs in pipeline safety. On August 6, 2020, the U.S. Senate passed the “Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety” (PIPES) Act of 2020.
On August 11, 2020, T&I Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO) and Subcommittee Ranking Member Rick Crawford (R-AR) released the following statement: “In the United States, 2.7 million miles of gas and hazardous liquid pipelines safely provide the energy used daily by American businesses, consumers, and manufacturers. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) oversees the operational safety of this extensive transportation system. We commend the Senate for taking steps to reauthorize these vital federal safety programs through passage of the PIPES Act by unanimous consent. This bipartisan agreement incorporates key stakeholder input to strengthen federal pipeline safety programs through innovative research and technology programs, grants for first responders, and modernized LNG safety regulations, among other provisions. We call on our Democratic colleagues to swiftly pass this legislation in the House to reauthorize these much-needed pipeline safety programs.”
T&I Subcommittee on Water Resources and the Environment
One of the highest priorities of the Subcommittee is the regular passage of a Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) to continue improving America’s ports, locks, dams, inland waterways, and other water resources infrastructure. As you can imagine, for the 14th Congressional District of Texas—with our five seaports (more than any other Member of Congress)—this is an incredibly important bill.
Congress is back on track to authorizing water resources infrastructure improvements every two years, and we must maintain this schedule to strengthen our economic competitiveness. Earlier this year, by employing a collaborative approach between both parties, WRDA 2020 was reported out of T&I with strong bipartisan support, and it passed the House unanimously.
The jurisdiction of the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment consists generally of matters relating to water resources development, conservation and management, water pollution control and water infrastructure, and hazardous waste cleanup. A number of agencies administer programs that address one or more of these issues; two agencies in particular, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), oversee the larger programs of interest to the Subcommittee.
Through its Civil Works Program, USACE constructs projects for the purposes of navigation, flood control, beach erosion control and shoreline protection, hydroelectric power, recreation, water supply, environmental protection, restoration and enhancement, and fish and wildlife mitigation.
EPA has the primary responsibility for carrying out the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, commonly known as the Clean Water Act. This act provides for a major federal/state program to protect, restore, and maintain the quality of the nation’s waters. Although EPA is responsible for carrying out the Act, significant parts of the program may be administered by the states—in our case, through the Texas Council on Environmental Quality (TCEQ)—if approved by EPA.