As the Republicans try to pick up the pieces of their Election Day loss last week, one of the things they have to do is select their new Congressional leadership. Most of their choices haven’t been too surprising, including their choice for House Minority Leader, John Boehner (R-Ohio). As House Majority leader, Boehner had previously held the second highest Republican rank in the House, and he has now been elevated to the highest. Although most of the press coverage has painted him as a moderate choice, over the conservative Mike Pence (R-Indiana), a look at Boehner’s record would challenge this conventional wisdom.
For example, GovTrack categorizes Boehner as a “rank-and-file Republican” based on his bill sponsorship record. His record on science isn’t too hot either, as he has in the past advocated teaching “alternatives” to evolution. The fact that the Discovery Institute praised his selection earlier this year as House Majority Leader should raise a red flag for anyone concerned about the state of science in the U.S. Boehner also voted twice against HR 810, the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, going against the most significant science-related piece of legislation the House considered this last year.
Certainly, then, Boehner is not a moderate choice for the Republicans, particularly on science issues. By refusing to make major changes and still supporting anti-science leaders, the Republicans don’t seem to have learned much from the last election and shouldn’t expect to make any new friends in the scientific community.