Lamar Smith

Lamar Smith


Smith Statement on Brussels Attacks


Washington, DC— Congressman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) released the following statement in response to the terrorist attacks in Brussels this morning.

Congressman Lamar Smith: “We mourn with the people of Brussels and we strengthen our resolve to stand boldly with them against the forces of evil responsible for these acts of terrorism.”

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Smith: House Must ‘Reinforce the Rule of Law’


Washington, DC – Congressman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) delivered the following remarks on the House floor in support of H. Res. 639 - Authorizing the Speaker to appear as amicus curiae on behalf of the House of Representatives in the matter of United States, et al. v. Texas, et al. In May 2015, Smith led a similar brief in support of the Texas suit alongside House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Texas Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz. More than a hundred members of the House and Senate supported that brief.  

Video of Rep. Smith’s remarks can be found here.

Congressman Smith:I support this resolution authorizing the speaker to submit an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in support of a Texas-led lawsuit challenging the president’s amnesty policies.

“It is critical that the House of Representatives defend the Constitution, which specifically gives Congress, not the president, the power to enact immigration laws. Regrettably, the president’s policies have ignored laws, undermined laws, and changed immigration laws.

“The president’s policies have led to a surge of tens of thousands of illegal immigrants across our borders, allowed unlawful immigrants to compete with unemployed Americans for scarce jobs, and established sanctuary cities that release dangerous criminal immigrants into our neighborhoods, where many go on to commit other crimes.  The House of Representatives must reinforce the rule of law and protect the lives and livelihoods of the American people.

“Mr. Speaker, that is why I support this resolution.”          

Smith also has vocally supported the Texas-led, 26 state lawsuit since it was first filed in December 2014. The suit challenges President Obama’s unilateral executive immigration actions, announced in November 2014, that attempted to give amnesty, work permits and government benefits to almost five million in the country illegally. The orders also did away with a successful criminal deportation program, Secure Communities. 

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Judiciary Committee Passes Smith Refugee Reform Bill


Washington, DC – Congressman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) released the following statement today after the House Judiciary Committee approved the Refugee Program Integrity Restoration Act (H.R. 4731). Smith introduced the bill earlier this week alongside lead sponsors Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee Vice Chairman Raul Labrador (R-Idaho).

Congressman Smith: “Our refugee system is broken. Terrorists have succeeded in exploiting our refugee programs to come to the U.S. and aid ISIS. The refugee program has even been abused by this administration to admit thousands of Central American immigrants coming illegally over the Southern border. The Obama administration has repeatedly refused to respond to congressional inquiries on the immigration status of terrorists charged in plots in the United States, despite reports that at least 14 were admitted to the country as refugees. Finally, taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars are often misused since questionable refugees automatically receive government benefits.”

Key Components of the Refugee Program Integrity Restoration Act:

Places the refugee ceiling in Congress’ hands—not the President’s:

  • The bill sets the refugee ceiling at 60,000 per year. It allows the President to recommend a revision of the ceiling number and Congress can choose to act on that recommendation. 
  • The bill prevents the President from admitting additional refugees without Congress’ approval. 

Empowers state and local communities:

  • Currently, states or localities that do not want refugees resettled within their communities have no recourse.  The bill remedies this issue and prevents the resettlement of refugees in any state or locality that takes legislative or executive action disapproving resettlement within their jurisdiction.

Enhances integrity of refugee program and curbs fraud:

  •  It requires that when processing refugee applications from countries listed as “Countries of Particular Concern” in the annual report of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, claims/applications that are based on religious persecution and are made by individuals who practice minority religions in such countries, are prioritized. 
  • The bill requires termination of refugee status if a resettled refugee returns to the country from which they fled, absent a change in country conditions. 
  • It requires the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to implement a fraudulent document detection program for refugee processing, including the placement of Fraud Detection and National Security officials at initial refugee screening, and the creation of a searchable database of scanned and categorized documents submitted by potential refugees at initial screening.
  • It provides for regular security vetting of each admitted refugee until the refugee adjusts immigration status to lawful permanent resident.  
  • Within one year of the bill becoming law, all U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) interviews, performed during USCIS circuit rides and done with the assistance of an interpreter, are to be recorded and DHS must review a random selection of 20% of the recordings to ensure that the interpreter correctly interpreted the interview. If an interpreter is found to have incorrectly interpreted the interview, the interpreter cannot serve as an interpreter for immigration purposes. 
  • The bill requires USCIS to review open source Internet postings, including social media, for each applicant.   

Strengthens public safety and national security:

  • The bill prevents the Secretary of DHS from unilaterally waiving most grounds of inadmissibility, including criminal convictions, for refugees. 
  • It also prevents the DHS Secretary from waiving most grounds of inadmissibility and deportability, including criminal grounds, for refugees attempting to adjust their status to lawful permanent resident.
  • The bill requires the Government Accountability Office to issue a report on the security of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (including the screening and processing procedures); the number of refugees who have been convicted of terrorism-related offenses since 2006; and the use of federally-funded benefit programs by refugees resettled in the United States.  
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Smith Responds to Criminal Immigrant Homicides


Washington, DC – Congressman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) responded to new reports this week revealing that, since 2010, 124 criminal immigrants that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) released were re-arrested on 135 new charges of homicide. In 2014 alone, ICE released more than thirty thousand criminal immigrants instead of deporting them.

Congressman Smith: “How many Americans have to lose their lives before this administration decides to enforce our immigration laws? This administration continues to release tens of thousands of criminal immigrants into American neighborhoods each year, despite the fact that many continue to commit new, deadly crimes. Just this week we learned that 124 criminal immigrants were charged with 135 homicide related charges after being previously released from U.S. prisons.  When will the safety and security of Americans take priority over the failed amnesty agenda of this president?

“This administration’s refusal to enforce our immigration laws has cost many American their lives. And this president’s actions ignoring our immigration laws only invite more lawlessness. This week, the House will follow Texas’s lead in declaring its opposition to the president’s illegal executive actions granting amnesty, work permits, and government benefits to five million. With those actions he also did away with the successful Secure Communities program that took criminal illegal immigrants off our streets and assisted in removing them from the country. At the same time, this administration refuses to crack down on Sanctuary Cities that further endanger the public.

“Our immigration system is not failing because it is broken; it is failing because it has been strategically dismantled by an extreme agenda that does not prioritize American lives and safety. This week we are reminded of 135 more reasons why the Supreme Court must restore the rule of law and overturn this president’s executive immigration actions.” 

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ICE: 124 criminal illegals released under Obama were later charged with 135 new homicides


How can the federal government secure the border when it can’t even keep convicted murderers behind bars?

In what a Texas congressman calls “The worst prison break in American history,” a government report revealed that 124 illegal alien criminals that have been released from custody since 2010 by the Obama administration’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials were later charged with 135 new homicides.

Two of them even had homicide-related convictions before they were released to the public, the Center for Immigration Studies report disclosed.

ICE issued its report in response to Senate Judiciary Committee requests, according to the Center for Immigration Studies, which reported:

Only a tiny percentage of the released criminals have been removed — most receive the most generous forms of due process available, and are allowed to remain at large, without supervision, while they await drawn-out immigration hearings. They are permitted to take advantage of this inefficient processing even though they are more likely to re-offend than they are to be granted legal status.

There is a human cost to the Obama administration’s careless catch and release policies for criminal aliens, euphemistically known as “prioritization”. These policies have led to 124 new homicides since 2010, and thousands of other crimes that harm citizens and degrade the quality of life in American communities.


In addition, the numbers provided to Congress by ICE officials didn’t include those criminal illegal aliens released by sanctuary jurisdictions. Nor did the figures include those released by local law enforcement agencies when ICE declined to take them.

ICE officials also reported that they released 156 criminal illegal aliens multiple times since 2013 who had a combined total of 1,776 convictions before their first release.

Even before this new data were made public, Rep. Lamar Smith likened ICE’s “catch and release” program to a prison break.

“This would be considered the worst prison break in American history, except it was sanctioned by the President and perpetrated by our own immigration officials,” the Texas Republican said in a statement. “These criminal immigrants should have been deported to ensure that they could never commit crimes on U.S. soil. But instead, ICE officials chose not to detain them and instead released them back onto American streets.”

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EPA Racing to Regulate Amateur Racecars


Washington, D.C. – The Oversight Subcommittee today held a hearing titled “Racing to Regulate: EPA’s Latest Overreach on Amateur Drivers” to review proposed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations targeting amateur racecars and parts suppliers. 

Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas): “Congress never intended the Clean Air Act to apply to these vehicles and the law is clear on this point.  Racecars are not regulated by this law.  However, EPA has now put into question the legality of non-road vehicles modified to become racecars. The EPA’s proposed expansion of authority demonstrates the agency’s willingness to resort to backdoor and secretive means to push its agenda. This overreach has the potential to result in billions of dollars in enforcement penalties simply for the production of items that have been legally used by amateur racers for years.  It will stifle technological advances in this field and cause the loss of many American jobs.”

For the first time, the EPA seeks to enforce the Clean Air Act on vehicles that have been legally de-registered so they can be modified for use in racing competitions. EPA officials buried this new provision in a proposed rule on emissions standards for medium and heavy-duty trucks - a regulation that is unrelated to vehicles modified for racing.  The specialty equipment automotive aftermarket employs over one million Americans across the nation representing nearly $1.4 billion in sales of racing related products annually.

Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.): “In addition to the major raceways throughout our country, there are thousands of local tracks that would be devastated by this new regulation.  For example, the Dixie Speedway in my district in Woodstock, Georgia, is a popular community track that brings in 150,000 visitors a year.  If the EPA uses this regulation to dismantle the race equipment manufacturing industry, drivers at tracks like these would be unable to find many of the parts that they need for their race cars.  If the Dixie Speedway was to go out of business, our community would lose tremendous amounts of commercial activity, tourism, and recreation that have been part of our local economy and culture since the Speedway opened in 1968. What is most frustrating to me is the secretive manner that the EPA attempted to sneak in this clarification of authority – they deliberatively did this under the radar of the American people.”

At the hearing, Deputy Majority Whip Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) testified on a bill he introduced, the Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports Act of 2016 (H.R. 4715), to prevent the EPA from taking action on amateur racing under the Clean Air Act. 

The following witnesses also testified:
Mr. Christopher Kersting, President and CEO, Specialty Equipment Marketing Association
Mr. Ralph Sheheen, Managing Partner and President, National Speed Sports News
Mr. Brent Yacobucci, Section Research Manager, Energy and Minerals Section, Congressional Research Service

For more information on the hearing, including witness testimony and the archived webcast, please visit the Committee’s website.

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Houston, we have an opportunity — it's called Mars


Last week, Astronaut Scott Kelly returned from an almost one-year mission to test the effects of space travel on the human body. Kelly's experiment directly contributes to our understanding of the challenges NASA must overcome to send astronauts to deep-space destinations like Mars. And one of our best opportunities to go there is right around the corner.

Seventeen years from now, Earth and Mars will be aligned for what could be the most significant and inspirational journey in human history.

A mission such as this — the first human space flight to another planet in our solar system — requires careful planning and persistence of purpose. So what is needed to get there from where we are today?

This is not merely a science fiction movie starring Matt Damon. This is a goal that is within the reach of NASA's technological capability. NASA and American industry are already building the most critical elements for journeys to deep space, the Orion crew vehicle and Space Launch System rocket. With those systems ready for missions within the next five years, NASA can begin taking critical steps to prepare for that rare planetary alignment in 2033.

If we launch humans from the Earth to the Red Planet in 2033, it would only take a year-and-a-half round trip instead of the normal journey of two or three years. A shorter mission like this greatly improves the likelihood of success, as our astronauts would not need to spend as much time exposed to solar flares, cosmic radiation, or the effects of zero gravity on the human body. A shorter duration mission also means less possibility of a mechanical or life-support problem.

The Space Station is also becoming a technology incubator for several commercial products and ventures. The technology spinoffs from America's space program have significantly added to our economy and improved our way of life — from the microchips in our computers, to lightweight metal alloys used in our cars, touchpad screens on our iPads and GPS devices.For the past 15 years, astronauts have been preparing for deep space exploration onboard the International Space Station. Larger in size than a football field, the Space Station is considered by many to be the greatest engineering achievement in the history of the world. And it has served as the laboratory in which Kelly and other astronauts have spent long stretches in space, providing valuable information for longer human missions.

Congress — on a bipartisan basis — has shown its support for NASA's deep space exploration endeavors. Year after year, Congress has provided the necessary funding for Orion and the Space Launch System. We believe it is a priority for America to remain a pioneering nation on the frontier of space. We have committed to maintaining American leadership in space now and in the future, across presidential administrations and Congresses.

A Mars journey requires a long-term plan from NASA. Just as the Apollo missions in the 1960s required Mercury and Gemini precursor missions, we need a mission statement from NASA laying out when we are going to Mars, what technologies and research we need to get there, and how we as a nation will get it done.

We need a detailed plan to put an end to the uncertainties that could delay a mission to Mars. NASA and American space companies must focus their engineering and scientific expertise on the great task before them. Americans will feel a renewed sense of pride and curiosity about their space program. And they will be able to celebrate another historic first as we plant the American flag on Mars.

This could be a turning point in the history of our great space-faring nation. We can do this.

Rep. Lamar Smith is a Republican from Texas. Rep. Ed Perlmutter is a Democrat from Colorado. Smith is chair of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. Perlmutter is a member of the committee.

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Smith: VA Reports ‘Discouraging But Not Surprising’


Washington, DC –Representative Lamar Smith (R-Texas) responded to the release of several long-awaited Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General (IG) reports on wait times for Texas veterans.

Congressman Smith: “The findings of the IG’s report are discouraging but not surprising. The report underscores the fact that the Department of Veterans Affairs’ problems are systemic and widespread. That is certainly not news for the tens of thousands of veterans in my district or the millions waiting for care across the nation.  I will continue to hold VA officials accountable to ensure these problems are addressed. Our veterans deserve the best care, not delayed care.”

In May 2014, Smith led 23 fellow members of the Texas delegation in calling for an investigation into allegations of misconduct at three VA facilities in Texas. In June, Smith took his concerns directly to the acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs in a meeting at Audie L. Murphy Memorial VA Hospital.

In September 2015 Smith assembled a Military and Veterans Council to provide regular updates on issues facing the more than 60,000 veterans, current members of the military, and the families that live in the 21st congressional district.

Smith has also supported several key pieces of legislation intended to hold VA leadership accountable for widespread failures and improve care for veterans.

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How weak prison terms endanger the innocent


Congress should be wary of reducing federal prison sentences. Unfortunately, much of the discussion on sentencing laws has focused on the criminals. What about the victims of their crimes? What about the dangers of putting these offenders back out on the streets where many prey again on law-abiding citizens?

The lives and property of innocent Americans are at stake. Past experience should persuade us not to weaken penalties, which could lead to thousands of dangerous criminals being released into our communities.

An often cited justification for lowering federal mandatory minimum sentences is the size of the prison population. Federal prisoners now comprise 13 percent of the total prison population. But the total prison population actually has declined in the last two years to less than one-half of 1 percent of the United States population, the lowest since 2005. So what’s the pressing need to open cell doors?

The cost of incarceration is another reason why some have argued that changes to prison sentences are needed. No doubt government spending can be cut, but it’s hard to imagine a better use of funds than for protecting public safety and the well-being of Americans.

Others claim that mandatory minimum sentences must be lowered because they result in too many nonviolent offenders being incarcerated for too long — especially for drug crimes. Yet federal minimum sentences are rarely applied to low-level offenders. More than 99 percent of federal inmates incarcerated for drug crimes are traffickers, not simple drug possessors.

Those concerned about jail times should consider the number of prisoners who “plea bargain” and plead guilty to lesser crimes. In these cases, prosecutors and criminals make an arrangement that lowers the severity of the charge in exchange for the offender’s admission of guilt or to avoid a lengthy trial. For example, a drug trafficker caught with a large quantity of narcotics might plead guilty to having a smaller quantity, which could cut his prison sentence in half. So “plea bargains” usually mean the criminal was originally charged with a much more serious crime.

The number of federal convictions that have resulted from plea bargains is estimated to be over 90 percent. If the overwhelming majority of those convicted already have received reduced sentences, why reduce the prison terms further, especially if it means putting criminals back into our communities?

Supporters of lower prison sentences also argue that judges need more discretion. They say that a one-size-fits-all penalty does not allow for consideration of mitigating factors, which might be necessary to determine a fair sentence.

But prior experience with judicial discretion in sentencing counters this claim. It is exactly the problem of too much discretion in the hands of activist judges that fueled the decades-long crime wave that preceded mandatory minimum sentences. Furthermore, judicial discretion led to widespread discrepancies in sentences, even when the circumstances were similar.

The minimum sentencing structure ensures that judges apply a uniform penalty based on the crime, not on the judge’s subjective opinion. Criminals receive equal punishment for equal crimes. And the removal of hardened criminals from our streets for longer periods of time helps make our neighborhoods safer.

A recent Department of Justice study of prisoners released in 30 states found that more than seven out of 10 were subsequently arrested for additional crimes. Most troubling, 29 percent of prisoners were rearrested for violent offenses within five years of release.

In my home state of Texas, new policies sought to reduce incarceration time and focus resources on treatment and post-release supervision. Yet almost one-quarter of inmates released have been rearrested and sent back to prison within three years. Early release programs don’t appear to be working.

Mandatory minimums help keep these individuals behind bars where they belong. That’s one explanation for why crime rates remain down.

The purpose of criminal law is to punish bad behavior, deter criminal acts and protect the American people. Releasing prisoners too soon could condemn many Americans to becoming victims of violence. This can be avoided if prisoners are not released before their sentences have been served.

⦁ Lamar Smith is a Republican member of the House of Representatives from Texas. He is a former chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and a former chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime.

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The Climate Change 1%


Remember the university professor who wanted the government to use the RICO law created to prosecute mobsters as a tool against global-warming dissenters? Well, taxpayers may be the ones calling for an investigation after examining the nonprofit venture that George Mason University Professor Jagadish Shukla has been running with generous government funding.

On Tuesday evening House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith wrote to the inspector general at the National Science Foundation. Chairman Smith reported that Mr. Shukla has recently been audited by the university in connection with his outside position running the Institute of Global Environment and Society (IGES).

According to Chairman Smith’s letter, the audit “appears to reveal that Dr. Shukla engaged in what is referred to as ‘double dipping.’ In other words, he received his full salary at GMU, while working full time at IGES and receiving a full salary there.”

Mr. Smith cites a memo from the school’s internal auditor in claiming that Mr. Shukla appeared to violate the university’s policy on outside employment and paid consulting. The professor received $511,410 in combined compensation from the school and IGES in 2014, according to Mr. Smith, “without ever receiving the appropriate permission from GMU officials.”

We reached Mr. Shukla by phone and asked if George Mason had audited him. He replied, “I don’t know. I don’t want to talk to you. I’m in a meeting.” Then he hung up. A spokesman for the school confirmed there was an audit and said that Mr. Shukla’s outside work didn’t interfere with his faculty job but declined to say whether Mr. Shukla had violated university rules.

Last year Mr. Shukla wasn’t shy about urging federal officials to investigate those who don’t share his beliefs. He should now open up about the finances of his organization, which according to the House Science Committee has consumed more than $25 million in taxpayer grants.

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Rep. Smith Statement at Immigration Subcommittee Hearing on Criminal Aliens

2016-04-20 12:59:33

Smith Speaks on House Resolution to 'Reinforce the Rule of Law'

2016-03-17 15:58:57

Last Man on the Moon Gene Cernan Praises Chairman Smith's Support of U.S. Space Leadership

2016-02-24 16:07:03

Rep. Smith on Capital Tonight with Karina Kling

2016-02-22 19:30:19

Border Security Caucus Visits Rio Grande Valley

2016-02-06 20:40:54

Border Security Caucus Press Briefing

2016-02-06 20:38:17

Rep. Smith Questions Witnesses on Problems Surrounding the Ongoing Border Surge

2016-02-04 15:32:05

Rep. Smith's State of the Union Response

2016-01-13 02:57:54

Rep. Smith Questions Witnesses on the Syrian Refugee Crisis

2015-11-19 16:24:42

Senior Texas ERCOT Official Testifies on Damaging Power Plan Impacts

2015-11-18 19:25:33

Rep. Smith Questions Attorney General on Sanctuary Cities Policy

2015-11-17 21:24:45

Smith Questions Top Officials on Syrian Refugee Security Threat

2015-11-16 21:20:14

Smith Shows Support for Our Troops

2015-11-06 21:26:12

Smith Speaks on Importance of Literacy

2015-11-06 21:23:34

Chairman Smith Closes Discusson of READ Act (H.R 3033) on House Floor

2015-10-27 20:43:47

Chairman Smith Delivers Opening Statement on House Floor on READ Act (H.R 3033)

2015-10-27 20:41:50

Sanctuary Policies Continue to Face Scrutiny

2015-10-26 14:05:44

Smith Asks for Majority Vote on Iran Deal in the Senate

2015-09-17 13:12:14

Smith: Iran Deal Emboldens Our Enemies

2015-09-11 14:00:06

Smith Warns of Consequences of Iran Deal on House Floor

2015-09-08 21:28:41

Contact Information

2409 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone 202-225-4236
Fax 202-225-8628

Lamar Smith represents the 21st Congressional District of Texas.

He serves as Chairman of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, which has jurisdiction over programs at NASA, the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Science Foundation, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

The Committee oversees agency budgets of $39 billion, where the primary focus is on research and development.

Congressman Smith continues to serve on both the Judiciary Committee and the Homeland Security Committee. He is a former Chairman of the Judiciary Committee and the Ethics Committee.

In the last Congress, Congressman Smith was named Policymaker of the Year by POLITICO for his work on patent reform legislation.

A fifth generation Texan and native of San Antonio, Congressman Smith graduated from Yale University and Southern Methodist University School of Law. He and his wife, Beth, have an adult daughter and son.

The 21st Congressional District includes parts of Bexar, Travis, Comal and Hays Counties and all of Bandera, Blanco, Gillespie, Kendall, Kerr and Real Counties. The district’s population is about 700,000.  Congressman Smith maintains district offices in San Antonio, Austin and Kerrville.

Serving With

Louie Gohmert


Ted Poe


Sam Johnson


John Ratcliffe


Jeb Hensarling


Joe Barton


John Culberson


Kevin Brady


Michael McCaul


Michael Conaway


Kay Granger


Mac Thornberry


Randy Weber


Bill Flores


Randy Neugebauer


Pete Olson


Will Hurd


Kenny Marchant


Roger Williams


Michael Burgess


Blake Farenthold


John Carter


Pete Sessions


Brian Babin


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