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Senate Commerce OKS Lander as Head of OSTP

Capitol Hill
(Image credit: Gary Arlen)

The Senate Commerce Committee has voted, without dissent, to approve the nomination by President Joe Biden of Eric Lander as director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), a position Biden has, for the first time, made a cabinet level position.

OTSP advises the President and others in the Administration on science and tech.

Lander, a mathematician and molecular biologist, is on leave as president and founding director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.

Committee chair Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) was less than enthusiastic, though, saying she would support Lander because he was the President's nominee, but said she would have "loved" to see a woman in the post. She added that "no doubt" women would still play key leadership roles.

She said importantly Lander had expressed his support for prioritizing getting more women in the science field. Cantwell said they would work "aggressively" on that. "You have to change the faces of the people doing science," she said, which will change the focus of science.

Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), ranking member of the committee, said he, too, supported the nomination, particularly given Landers' pledge to provide research opportunities, regardless of what state or region (so, Mississippi as well as California, for example).

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass) provided the praise for Landers from the Democrat side. He interrupted the call for a vote to recommend the nominee highly, saying Dr. Lander a visionary, a scientist and a thinker who would serve with distinction, "a pioneer who sees unanswered questions not as barriers but as an expanse of possibility."

“American broadband providers are a community of technologists, engineers, researchers, computer scientists and cybersecurity experts helping to build a better and more connected world – work that aligns very much with the mission of OSTP," said USTelecom president Jonathan Spalter. "Our community looks forward to working with Eric Lander in his critical role leading OSTP and advising the administration and the President on the important science and technology policy debates of our time.”