Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ), a prominent fiscal hawk and critic of President Trump, announced on October 24 that he would not be seeking reelection. In a passionate speech on the Senate floor, Flake criticized the disregard for truth and decency in political discourse. Flake has fought the expansion of the federal government during his tenure, which included issuing “waste books” that critiqued federal spending, including research grants. Flake joined the Senate in 2013 and will serve until January 2019.
Less ceremoniously, on November 2, Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX), Chair of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, announced his retirement. Smith has served in Congress since 1987 with stints as the Chair of the House Ethics Committee and Judiciary Committee. During his tenure as Chair of the Science Committee, Smith exercised oversight over the National Science Foundation (NSF), and science more broadly, including introducing a reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act, which contained targeted cuts and negative policies of consequence for the social science research community. COSSA worked hard in the intervening years to halt Smith’s efforts targeting social science funding. House Republican rules allow members to serve as chairs of committees for only six years, which would have required Smith to relinquish his Science Committee gavel at the end of the term, even if he did not choose to retire. Smith will serve until January 2019.