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House Dems revamp panel name to highlight tech focus

The upbeat new Democratic majority in the U.S. House of Representatives may be focusing more on minimum wage and prescription drug plans during its first one hundred hours at work. But before taking up those hot-button issues, politicians polished off one cosmetic change seemingly aimed at touting their tech savvy.

On Thursday evening, the House voted as part of a broader rules package to rename the House Committee on Science to the Committee on Science and Technology, a designation it had held between 1974 and 1987. The move, according to a committee press release, is designed "to more accurately reflect its broad jurisdiction in the areas of science, research and technology."

Reincorporation of the word "technology," which was part of the committee's name between 1974 and 1994, may be more symbolic than the press release lets on. After all, it was the Republican leadership who dropped "technology" from the title after claiming majorities in both chambers of Congress during the 1994 elections.

Despite the new name, the panel's agenda this year remains largely the same. Priorities again include boosting math and science education and federal research funding, as well as encouraging adoption of alternative energy methods, incoming chairman Bart Gordon, a Tennessee Democrat, said in a statement.

In other cosmetic news, the House has given its main Web site a facelift, complete with directions to a plug-in that allows its words to be read aloud to viewers with difficulties doing so themselves.

Oddly, its Democratic members' hub has been offline at least since Wednesday. Representatives from the speaker's office did not immediately respond to questions from CNET this week about its mysterious disappearance.