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Vernon J. Ehlers

U.S. Representative Vernon J. Ehlers of Grand Rapids, Michigan, was sworn in on January 4, 2005, to serve his sixth full term in the U.S. House of Representatives. He was first elected to the 103rd Congress in a special election on December 7, 1993.

Ehlers joined Congress following a distinguished tenure of service in teaching, scientific research and public service. He has served on numerous boards and commissions and was elected to the Kent County (Mich.) Board of Commissioners, and the Michigan House and Senate. The first research physicist to serve in Congress, Ehlers has been recognized for his strong work ethic and proven leadership skills in his duties on Capitol Hill.

As a member of the 109th Congress, Ehlers serves on five committees. On January 19, 2006, Ehlers was appointed by House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert to serve as Chairman of the House Administration Committee. He has been a member of the Committee since 1995 and was instrumental in the effort to connect the House of Representatives with the Internet and the creation of the Library of Congress's "Thomas" web site, which allows anyone to look up legislation being considered by Congress, laws that have been passed, and other information about Congress.

Ehlers also serves on the Science Committee, where he is Chairman of the Subcommittee on Environment, Technology and Standards. During his tenure on the Committee, he oversaw in 1998 the writing of the nation's first major statement on science policy since 1945. He also co-chairs the STEM Ed Caucus, which is dedicated to improving the nation's K-12 science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education.

On the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Ehlers has led efforts to secure a fair funding formula and more dollars for Michigan's roads, highways, and transit systems. In the 107th Congress, Ehlers led the development of the Great Lakes Legacy Act, which authorizes spending $270 million over the next five years to clean up sediments in the Great Lakes. Ehlers also is a member of the Education and the Workforce Committee, where he blends his efforts with the Science Committee on improving math and science education. Ehlers has served on the Science Committee and Transportation and Infrastructure Committee since his arrival in Washington and joined the Education and the Workforce Committee in 1999.

Prior to Congress, Ehlers served a total of 11 years in the Michigan Legislature - with just over two years in the House and nine years in the Senate, where he finished his tenure as President Pro Tem. He also served eight years on the Kent County Board of Commissioners, including three years as chairman.

After three years of studying at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Ehlers transferred to University of California, Berkeley, where he received his undergraduate degree in physics, and his Ph.D. in Nuclear Physics 1960. After six years teaching and research at Berkeley, he returned to Calvin College, where he taught physics for 16 years and later served as Chairman of the Physics Department. During his tenure at Calvin, Ehlers also served as a volunteer science advisor to then-Congressman Gerald R. Ford.

He is married to Johanna Meulink and is the father of four adult children and the grandfather of four. He and his wife reside in Grand Rapids.