Lamar Smith

Lamar Smith

TEXAS' 21st DISTRICT

Rep. Smith Statement on American Health Care Act

2017/03/24

WASHINGTON – Congressman Lamar Smith (TX-21) issued the following statement in response to the American Health Care Act being withdrawn from the legislative schedule for Friday. 

Congressman Smith: “Even though we did not vote on the American Health Care Act this week, I still feel we need to replace Obamacare with a health care policy that lowers premiums, lowers taxes and makes better health care accessible to all.”

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U.S. Chamber of Commerce Recognizes Rep. Smith with Spirit of Enterprise Award

2017/03/22

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Tuesday, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce honored Congressman Lamar Smith (TX-21) with its annual Spirit of Enterprise Award, given in recognition of his 100% score in 2016.

“Businesses of all shapes and sizes need sound, commonsense policy in place in order to get off the ground, grow, and succeed,” said Thomas J. Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “The Spirit of Enterprise Award recognizes those members of Congress who have done what’s right for our friends, family, and neighbors running businesses across the country. We applaud Congressman Smith for his commitment to free enterprise and economic growth.”

Congressman Smith said, “I thank the Chamber for this recognition of my past work for Texans. I look forward to the opportunity this year to enact policy that promotes economic growth and creates jobs by reducing burdensome regulations on businesses and simplifying our tax code for hard-working taxpayers.”

The Chamber’s prestigious Spirit of Enterprise Award is given annually to members of Congress based on their votes on critical business legislation as outlined in the Chamber’s annual scorecard, How They Voted. Members who supported the Chamber’s position on at least 70 percent of those votes qualify to receive the award.

During the second session of the 114th Congress, the Chamber scored members on 8 Senate votes and 14 House votes related to access to capital for small businesses, ensuring our workforce has the skills necessary for the jobs of tomorrow, and helping American manufacturers compete in a global economy. In addition, votes in support of building the U.S. water infrastructure system, protecting intellectual property, and updating energy policy also factored into scoring.

This is the 29th year that the U.S. Chamber has formally honored the accomplishments of this select group of members of Congress.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations.

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Rep. Smith Responds to ICE Report on Sanctuary Cities

2017/03/20

WASHINGTON – Congressman Lamar Smith (TX-21) issued the following statement in response to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Declined Detainer Outcome Report (DDOR). This first edition of the report includes information specifically on immigration enforcement in Travis County (Texas).

Rep. Smith: “I’m glad to see that the Department of Homeland Security continues to battle sanctuary cities that violate federal law. This ensures that Americans know which cities continue to release dangerous criminal immigrants, putting innocent Americans at risk. I support the Trump Administration’s efforts to enforce laws that stop criminal immigrants from being released into the community.

“Travis County officials endanger innocent Texans when they release immigrants who have been convicted of crimes that include domestic violence, aggravated assault and DUIs. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 70 percent of violent offenders are arrested for a new crime within five years of release from jail or prison. I hope the County will comply with the spirit and letter of the law to protect the safety of Travis County residents."

Background: The DDOR is a weekly report that shows local jurisdictions with the highest volume of criminal immigrants released due to local governments’ refusal to cooperate with federal immigration officials to ensure that these criminals remain in custody. It includes a list of crimes associated with those released individuals. The report is mandated by the president’s executive order “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States.

The report, which spans from January 28-February 3, 2017 includes nearly 150 individuals released from Travis County, part of which is included in the congressional district Congressman Smith represents. The DDOR report also details the narrow criteria Travis County uses to honor detainer requests from U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement. These include a court order or that the immigrant has a charge or conviction of Capital Murder, First Degree Murder, Aggravated Sexual Assault, or Continuous Smuggling of Persons.

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Smith: “It’s too hard to both fire and hire employees at the VA”

2017/03/17

WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Lamar Smith (TX-21) voted in support of a bill that improves the Secretary of Veterans Affairs ability to hire and retain physicians and other employees of the VA (H.R. 1367). The bill passed unanimously in the House.

The night before, the House passed the VA Accountability First of 2017 (H.R. 1259) which reforms the VA by giving more authority to the VA Secretary to hold employees accountable for poor performance or misconduct. A recent study completed by the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that, on average, it takes six months to a year, to remove a permanent civil servant in the Federal Government.

Rep. Smith: “Today Republicans and Democrats worked together to hack away at more VA bureaucracy. It’s too hard to both fire and hire employees at the VA, which keeps Veterans from receiving the care and service they deserve. This bill corrects deficiencies within VA’s overly bureaucratic and lengthy hiring process so that they can efficiently recruit and retain highly qualified doctors and professionals at all levels.”

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Smith Votes to Increase Accountability at the VA and Protect Veterans’ Second Amendment Rights

2017/03/16

WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Lamar Smith voted in favor of two bills that support our nation’s veterans. Both passed and will go on to the Senate.

The first is the VA Accountability First of 2017 (H.R. 1259) reforms the Department of Veterans Affairs by giving more authority to the VA Secretary to hold employees accountable for poor performance or misconduct.

The second bill is the Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act (H.R. 1181).

Rep. Smith: “The Accountability First Act allows the VA Secretary more flexibility to remove, demote or suspend employees who are engaged in bad behavior and not performing the duties our veterans need. It’s unfair to the vast majority of honest and hardworking employees at Texas VA facilities when the agency doesn’t hold bad actors accountable.

“The VA also shouldn’t be allowed to determine whether a Veteran should have to give up their second amendment rights. Those who are willing to risk their lives to protect our freedoms deserve due process; a court should make that decision.”

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Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act

2017/03/15

Video of News 4 WOAI: Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act

Congressman Lamar Smith (TX-21)'s bill, the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act (LARA), passed in the House on March 10, 2017. He discusses with News 4 the need for and impact of LARA.

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Smith Bill to Protect Innocent Americans from Lawsuit Abuse Passes House

2017/03/10

Washington, DC – Today, legislation authored and introduced by Congressman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) to penalize lawyers for filing frivolous lawsuits passed in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Lawsuit Abuse Reduction ACT (LARA) of 2017 passed by a vote of 230-188. Congressman Smith and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) gave the following statements.

Congressman Smith: “Everyday attorneys file frivolous lawsuits that cost innocent Americans their livelihoods. These attorneys engage in legalized extortion and try to force individuals to settle out of court instead of paying huge court costs. There is currently no disincentive to deter attorneys from filing frivolous claims. By requiring attorneys who file junk lawsuits to pay the court costs of those they sue, such lawsuits will be discouraged. I look forward to continuing to work with Senator Grassley in the Senate to get this commonsense bill to President Trump’s desk.”

Chairman Goodlatte: “Lawyers who flood our federal courts with frivolous suits have no place in our civil justice system. Baseless suits brought against hardworking Americans, as well as businesses large and small, have a real cost that ultimately hurt the economy. Judges need to have the tools necessary to combat unscrupulous lawyers, and Congress is answering their calls for reform.

“Our civil justice system was created to serve Americans who brings legitimate claims to court, and the reforms in LARA allow for the doors of justice to stay open, while ensuring attorneys are held accountable for filing lawsuits with no basis in law or fact.”

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U.S. House votes to put teeth back in Rule 11 sanctions

2017/03/10

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday passed another major legal reform bill, one that would reinstate mandatory sanctions for attorneys who file frivolous lawsuits.

The House, after an hour of general debate plus discussion on various amendments early in the day, voted 230-188 in favor of the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act of 2017, or LARA.

“Many Americans may not realize it, but today, under what is called Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, there is no requirement that those who file frivolous lawsuits pay for the unjustified legal costs they impose on their victims -- even when those victims prove to a judge the lawsuit was without any basis in law or fact,” House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said during the floor debate. “As a result, the current Rule 11 goes largely unenforced, because the victims of frivolous lawsuits have little incentive to pursue additional litigation to have the case declared frivolous when there is no guarantee of compensation at the end of the day.”

“H.R. 720 would finally provide light at the end of the tunnel for the victims of frivolous lawsuits by requiring sanctions against the filers of frivolous lawsuits, sanctions which include paying back victims for the full costs of their reasonable expenses incurred as a direct result of the Rule 11 violation, including attorneys’ fees.”

The legislation was reintroduced by U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, in late January.

The bill would change Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to remove the 21-day “safe harbor” and to make sanctions mandatory instead of discretionary if a violation is discovered. This would reverse amendments previously made to Rule 11.

In 1993, laws were passed allowing parties and their attorneys to avoid sanctions for making baseless claims by withdrawing them within 21 days after a motion for sanctions has been served.

Under H.R. 720, any monetary sanction imposed under Rule 11 would be paid by the parties to the suit.

U.S. Rep. John Conyers, a Michigan Democrat who is the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, spoke in strong opposition to the legislation.

“[This bill] will have a disastrous impact on the administration of justice in numerous ways,” he said during Friday’s floor debate.

Conyers’ main concern was that the bill would “chill” the advancement of civil rights claims. But he also expressed worry that it would strip judges of their discretion.

Smith shot down both arguments, noting that civil rights cases would not be affected and pointing out that judges still would reserve the right to determine whether a lawsuit is frivolous.

However, if found frivolous, judges must issue sanctions under the proposed legislation, he said.

“This will serve as a disincentive to file ‘junk’ lawsuits,” Smith said. “Currently, there is no disincentive.”

U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., pointed out that a similar version of the proposed change to the rule was implemented in 1983, but was changed a mere 10 years later.

The old Rule 11, Nadler argued, made the system “even more litigious,” with thousands of lawsuits filed in response to mandatory sanctions.

But U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, who argued in strong support of LARA, said the bill would especially help small businesses.

“These [legal] expenses don’t just cost small businesses time and productivity, too often they force small businesses into bankruptcy,” he said during the floor debate.

“We absolutely cannot afford to lose any more small businesses in this country and the associated jobs that go with them.”

Goodlatte praised the House’s passage of the legislation.

“Lawyers who flood our federal courts with frivolous suits have no place in our civil justice system. Baseless suits brought against hardworking Americans, as well as businesses large and small, have a real cost that ultimately hurt the economy,” he said following Friday’s vote.

“Judges need to have the tools necessary to combat unscrupulous lawyers, and Congress is answering their calls for reform.”  

Smith agreed, saying he looks forward to working with Grassley to get the “commonsense bill” to President Donald Trump’s desk.

 

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House votes to crack down on frivolous lawsuits

2017/03/10

The House passed legislation Friday aimed at cracking down on attorneys who bring frivolous lawsuits.

The Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act was approved by 230-188 vote. The bill would amend the Federal Rules of Civil Procedures to require judges to sanction attorneys who bring forward a frivolous lawsuit — one that, due to lack of legal merit, a plaintiff has little chance of winning.

Attorneys would be forced to pay the party or parties the amount of the reasonable expenses incurred as a direct result of the violation, including reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs.

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) said attorneys who bring cases have everything to gain and nothing to lose under the current rules. 

“Prior to 1993 it was mandatory for judges to impose sanctions such as order to pay for the other side’s legal expenses when lawyers filed frivolous lawsuits then the Civil Rules Advisory Committee, an obscure branch of the courts, made penalties optional,” he said.

“This needs to be reversed by Congress.”

But Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) pushed back, arguing the bill would lead to disastrous results. 

“We do not have to speculate about what would happen as a result of this bill because we have a decade of experience that shows us how catastrophic it would be and was,” he said.

The bill, he said, restores failed rules enacted in 1983 that were later reversed because it made the legal system more litigious. 

“Civil cases effectively became two cases — one of the merits and the other on a set of duly rule 11 allegations by both parties,” he said.

“The drain on the courts and the party’s resources caused the judicial conference to revisit the rule and adopt the changes that this bill would now have us undo.” 

Republicans voted down a series of amendments, including one offered by Rep. Darren Soto (D-Fla.), to reinstate the rule’s safe harbor provision, which allows parties to avoid penalties by withdrawing or correcting a claim within 14 days.

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Rep. Smith Supports Funds for Troops, Military Families and Veterans

2017/03/08

Washington, DC – Today Congressman Lamar Smith (TX-21) voted to provide critical funding for our national security with his support for H.R. 1301, the Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2017. The bill passed 371-48.

The 21st Congressional District is home to Joint Base San Antonio-Ft. Sam Houston and over 60,000 active duty servicemembers, veterans and their families. Congressman Smith gave the following statement on the bill.

Rep. Smith: “Our region supports major advances in military technology and this bill funds research and development that not only allows our country to maintain our technological advantage but also supports health research in areas including brain injuries and mental health.

“To better support our soldiers, a 2.1 percent pay raise is included, along with full medical benefits for troops, military families and retirees. The legislation provides funding for a strong, robust active and reserve force. It will also ensure that the training and equipment they need to carry out their missions are available. I will continue to work for the servicemen and women who sacrifice so that all Americans can be free.”

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News 4 WOAI: Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act

2017-03-16 19:28:44


President Hits Home Run

2017-03-01 20:57:03


Keep Americans Safe

2017-01-31 20:06:45


Rep. Smith: Has the Media Learned Any Lessons?

2016-11-15 18:15:52


Rep Smith and Sheriff Pamerleau discuss Oct. 19 Community Safety Event

2016-10-18 14:10:08


Rep. Smith: President's immigration policies put Americans at risk

2016-09-22 16:01:16


Smith: IRS conduct "abuse of office," "attack on freedom of speech"

2016-09-22 14:18:07


Media Fairness Caucus (MFC): Floor Speech - The Media Shows Their Bias

2016-09-13 21:11:58


Media Fairness Caucus (MFC): Poll - Americans Believe the Media is Biased

2016-09-13 21:05:29


Rep. Smith Speaks on FBI's notes from interviewing Hillary Clinton

2016-09-13 19:28:02


Media Fairness Caucus (MFC): Is Facebook Suppressing Conservative Views?

2016-07-15 21:01:49


Media Fairness Caucus (MFC): Networks' Coverage of Orlando Attack Biased

2016-07-15 20:40:23


Smith: Ginsburg Showed Bad Judgement

2016-07-15 20:33:11


Rep. Smith Questions FBI Director Comey at Homeland Security Hearing

2016-07-14 21:38:02


Administration's Immigration Policies Hurt Americans

2016-07-06 19:45:24


Smith Questions Feds on Immigrant Visa Overstays

2016-06-15 20:11:50


Rep. Smith's Memorial Day Message

2016-06-01 16:43:00


Media Fairness Caucus (MFC): Media Fails to Cover Court's Obamacare Decision

2016-05-17 18:56:00


Media Fairness Caucus (MFC): Rep. Smith on Facebook's Censoring of Conservative Media

2016-05-11 21:38:09


Rep. Smith Questions Witness on EPAs Predetermined Efforts to Block the Pebble Mine

2016-04-29 19:46:41


Contact Information

2409 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone 202-225-4236
Fax 202-225-8628
lamarsmith.house.gov

Committee Assignments

Science, Space, and Technology

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

TEXAS' 1st DISTRICT

Ted Poe

TEXAS' 2nd DISTRICT

Sam Johnson

TEXAS' 3rd DISTRICT

John Ratcliffe

TEXAS' 4th DISTRICT

Jeb Hensarling

TEXAS' 5th DISTRICT

Joe Barton

TEXAS' 6th DISTRICT

John Culberson

TEXAS' 7th DISTRICT

Kevin Brady

TEXAS' 8th DISTRICT

Michael McCaul

TEXAS' 10th DISTRICT

Michael Conaway

TEXAS' 11th DISTRICT

Kay Granger

TEXAS' 12th DISTRICT

Mac Thornberry

TEXAS' 13th DISTRICT

Randy Weber

TEXAS' 14th DISTRICT

Bill Flores

TEXAS' 17th DISTRICT

Jodey Arrington

TEXAS' 19th DISTRICT

Pete Olson

TEXAS' 22nd DISTRICT

Will Hurd

TEXAS' 23rd DISTRICT

Kenny Marchant

TEXAS' 24th DISTRICT

Roger Williams

TEXAS' 25th DISTRICT

Michael Burgess

TEXAS' 26th DISTRICT

Blake Farenthold

TEXAS' 27th DISTRICT

John Carter

TEXAS' 31st DISTRICT

Pete Sessions

TEXAS' 32nd DISTRICT

Brian Babin

TEXAS' 36th DISTRICT

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