Robert Smith Walker

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Robert Smith Walker
RobertWalkerPA.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 16th district
In office
January 3, 1977 – January 3, 1997
Preceded by Edwin D. Eshleman
Succeeded by Joe Pitts
Republican Chief Deputy Whip of the United States House of Representatives
In office
January 3, 1989 – January 3, 1995
Whip Newt Gingrich
Preceded by Edward Rell Madigan
Succeeded by Dennis Hastert
Personal details
Born (1942-12-23) December 23, 1942 (age 71)
Bradford, Pennsylvania
Political party Republican

Robert Smith Walker, popularly known as Bob Walker, (born December 23, 1942) is a former American politician who represented Pennsylvania in the United States House of Representatives as a Republican from 1977 to 1997. He was known for his fiery rhetoric and knowledge of parliamentary procedure.

Born in Bradford, Pennsylvania, Walker graduated from Penn Manor High School. He attended the College of William and Mary from 1960 to 1961 and received his B.S. from Millersville University of Pennsylvania in 1964. Walker taught high school from 1964 to 1967. He took his M.A. from the University of Delaware in 1968 and served in the Pennsylvania National Guard from 1967 to 1973.

Walker became an assistant to Pennsylvania congressman Edwin Duing Eshleman, working for him from 1967 to Eshleman's retirement in 1977. Walker was elected to his seat representing southeastern Pennsylvania, including Lebanon, Lancaster, and Chester Counties.

In Congress, Walker was an outspoken conservative and allied himself with fellow conservatives Newt Gingrich, Bob Dornan and Trent Lott and the Conservative Opportunity Society. He was one of the speakers at the first Pennsylvania Leadership Conference in 1989.[1] Michael Barone and Grant Ujifusa wrote that Walker was "scrappy, good humored, and ready to push his principles forward even at the cost of being mocked." He was a hawk on deficit spending and worked to reduce government spending but at the same time served on the science committee and advocated more spending on the space program, weather research, hydrogen research, and earthquake programs as well as pushing for a cabinet-level department of science.

Walker was also responsible for a rare punishment of the Speaker of the House and aiding in the rise of Gingrich. When C-SPAN began televising the House, Walker, Gingrich, and other conservatives found they could reach a national audience with special order speeches, given at the end of the day after the House finished its legislative program. In these speeches, they assailed the Democrats and their leadership in the House. On May 10, 1984, Walker gave one such fiery oration that irritated Speaker Tip O'Neill because the cameras did not show Walker was speaking to a deserted chamber. O'Neill ordered Representative Charlie Rose, whose committee oversaw television coverage, to have the cameras pan the chamber and show Walker and his allies were talking to nobody. No notice of this change was given to the Republicans when it was implemented on May 14, 1984. When the Republicans found out what was going on, Walker, who was speaking when the panning began, and Bob Michel, the Republican leader, angrily complained on the floor. The next day, Gingrich was speaking and Speaker O'Neill lost his cool, resulting in O'Neill's words being taken down and ruled out of order. No Speaker had been so punished since 1795. These events made Gingrich a household name. Gingrich would later bring Walker into the Republican leadership; Walker was chief deputy whip.

Walker was a fierce advocate of stronger drug laws. He proposed that all federal contractors institute programs among their employees with violations to result in the forfeiture of federal contracts – even if as little as one joint were found in a contractor's workplace. Walker also led a campaign against the rewriting of the Congressional Record and had the practice banned in the 104th Congress when Republicans won control of the House. He was chairman of the House Science Committee during his last term.

Congressional Quarterly would write that "he has raised too many hackles and rubbed too many nerves to be very popular" in the House, but the voters back in Pennsylvania only once gave him less than sixty-five percent of the vote.

In 2001 he was appointed by President George W. Bush to chair the Commission on the Future of the United States Aerospace Industry. He also served on the President's Commission on Implementation of the United States Space Exploration Policy (2004) and the President's Commission on the United States Postal Service(2005).

His name had been circulated as a possible NASA administrator following the 2004 resignation of Sean O'Keefe. He is currently on the board of directors of The Aerospace Corporation and Space Adventures, and formerly served as chairman of the board of the Space Foundation. He is presently chairman of the Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technical Advisory Committee of the U.S. Department of Energy.

Walker is currently executive chairman of the Washington lobbying firm, Wexler & Walker Public Policy Associates. [1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Eshleman, Jr., Russell E. (September 17, 1989). "Harrisburg Conference Promotes Conservative Ideals and Issues". Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia: Philadelphia Newspapers Inc.). 

On-Line Sources[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Edwin D. Eshleman
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 16th congressional district

1977–1997
Succeeded by
Joe Pitts
Political offices
Preceded by
George Brown, Jr.
California
Chairman of the House Science Committee
1995–1997
Succeeded by
Jim Sensenbrenner
Wisconsin