Lamar Smith

Lamar Smith


Smith: VA Bill Balances Accessibility and Accountability


Congressman Lamar Smith (TX-21) today voted in favor of Veterans Affairs legislation that would expand access to care for veterans, expedite the firing of negligent VA employees, provide for additional medical staff, and lease facilities for 27 new VA hospitals and clinics. Specifically, the legislation would consolidate several San Antonio-area clinics into a new, 191,000 square foot facility as part of a broader VA medical facilities lease plan.   Congressman Lamar Smith: “America’s veterans have made tremendous sacrifices to protect and defend our freedoms. They deserve the best health care, not delayed health care. This bill starts moving the VA in the right direction. “This legislation will benefit thousands of veterans in San Antonio and across the 21st Congressional District of Texas who have been subjected to unacceptable delays in care. This bill balances increased access to care for veterans with increased accountability at the Department of Veterans Affairs.” The measure, which was championed by House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller of Florida, also received praise from groups such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), the Disabled Veterans of America (DAV), Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), and the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP). Similar to legislation Rep. Smith supported earlier this summer, this bill would allow veterans who experience wait times longer than 30 days, and those living more than 40 miles from a VA facility, to seek private care at the expense of the VA. It would also give the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs more authority to fire employees guilty of wrongdoing. The legislation would also require the VA to combine several San Antonio-area medical and benefits facilities into one new 191,000 square foot facility to ease access for veterans seeking any number of services. Specifically, the bill would consolidate the Frank Tejada Outpatient Clinic, two existing annexes, three existing specialty care clinics, one contract clinic and Veterans Benefits Administration offices into a single, one-stop-shop facility. The new facility would integrate medical and surgical care facilities with laboratory, pathology and radiology services in order to decrease visits for patients and deliver test results on the same day of appointment. Read More

Smith: ‘More Than An Empty Suit’


Congressman Lamar Smith (TX-21) today released the following statement in anticipation of a House measure to bring suit against President Obama for failure to implement Obamacare provisions from 2010.   Congressman Lamar Smith: “This is more than an empty suit: the American people have a long list of grievances that merit the legal action being pursued by the House of Representatives. In addition to changing the terms of Obamacare, the president has ignored, undermined, and gone around Congress to create new immigration laws. This has created the current crisis on our border and significantly weakened our nation’s security. Yet this president continues to threaten even more overreaching executive actions to extend amnesty to millions. “The time has come for a lawsuit to hold this runaway presidency accountable. The Constitution says the president must faithfully execute the laws. However, the current president believes he has the power to make his own laws. But no president has the power to make laws on their own. “We have an obligation to defend the Constitution and the balance of powers our government has had for more than 200 years.” Read More

Smith Supports Bill to Boost Working Families


Congressman Lamar Smith (TX-21) today voted in favor of the Child Tax Credit Improvement Act. Congressman Lamar Smith: “Child Tax Credits have traditionally been a way our government recognizes the valuable role families play in caring for the next generation. By allowing parents to keep more of their hard-earned money, this bill will give working families a much-needed boost. “In addition, it also reins in bad IRS policies that have paid out more than $4.2 billion in taxpayer dollars to millions of illegal immigrants. Our bill puts an end to this egregious waste of taxpayer dollars and ensures our policies place the highest priorities on working American families.” Read More

Texas Republicans to Obama: Enforce Immigration Laws


Congressman Lamar Smith (TX-21) today sent a letter to President Obama signed by all 24 Texas Republican Members of the House of Representatives and both Senators. The letter in part read: “Mr. President, you have the authority to stop the surge of illegal entries by immigrant minors today. Enforcing current immigration laws will go a long way to solving the border crisis.” Complete text of the letter can be found below:   July 24, 2014   President Barack Obama The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW Washington, DC 20500 Dear Mr. President, As members of the Texas delegation, we watch our state endure the impact of illegal immigrant children streaming across our border. Our hearts go out to those who have suffered during their long journeys to the United States. But we cannot allow this tragedy to continue. A country that has lost control of its borders has lost control of its future. Mr. President, you have the authority to stop the surge of illegal entries by immigrant minors today. Enforcing current immigration laws will go a long way to solving the border crisis. We therefore urge you to take the following actions to address the current national security and humanitarian crisis on the Southern Border: 1. Suspend your efforts to issue new Executive Orders that weaken enforcement of our immigration laws.  Your Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Executive Order has shielded over half a million illegal immigrants from current law.  And it has sent the regrettable message that illegal immigration will not be punished in the United States. 2. End the catch-and-release policy that gives convicted criminal immigrants and illegal immigrants a free pass.  Last year, 36,000 criminal immigrants with 88,000 convictions were released from jail to roam our neighborhoods and commit additional crimes instead of being detained and deported. 3. Improve cooperation with local law enforcement agencies so they can help enforce our immigration laws and identify criminal immigrants. 4. Don’t tolerate immigration fraud, which encourages more illegal immigrants to make false claims so they can remain in the United States. 5. Expedite the processing and removal of illegal immigrants who are apprehended at our Southern Border.  We can only deter future waves of illegal immigration through swift and certain enforcement of our immigration laws. Your administration has used existing laws as an excuse for your failure to end the national security and humanitarian crisis on our Southern Border.  However, the majority of immigrants apprehended at the border during this crisis can be legally repatriated immediately.  Instead, you have permitted almost all to remain in the United States, further encouraging illegal immigration. Please take the actions cited above to enforce our immigration laws and restore order on the Southern Border.  This will save lives and discourage those you have enticed to enter illegally through your current policies.   Twenty-five members joined Rep. Smith in calling for the President to stop the illegal surge on the southern border, including:  Rep. Joe Barton (TX-06), Rep. Kevin Brady (TX-08), Rep. Michael Burgess (TX-26), Rep. John Carter (TX-31), Rep. Michael Conaway (TX-11), Rep. John Culberson (TX-07), Rep. Blake Farenthold (TX-27), Rep. Bill Flores (TX-17), Rep. Louie Gohmert (TX-01), Rep. Kay Granger (TX-12), Rep. Ralph Hall (TX-04), Rep. Jeb Hensarling (TX-05), Rep. Sam Johnson (TX-03), Rep. Kenny Marchant (TX-24), Rep. Michael McCaul (TX-10), Rep. Randy Neugebauer (TX-19), Rep. Pete Olson (TX-22), Rep. Ted Poe (TX-02), Rep. Pete Sessions (TX-32), Steve Stockman (TX-36), Rep. Mac Thornberry (TX-13), Rep. Randy Weber (TX-14), Rep. Roger Williams (TX-25), Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX). Read More

Smith Introduces Border Solution Bill


Congressman Lamar Smith (TX-21) today supported a new proposal to address the crisis of increased illegal border crossings along the U.S. Southern border. Smith joined Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) in introducing H.R. 5137, the Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act. Congressman Smith: "The crisis on our Southern border has directly impacted millions in the Lone Star State and put the lives of tens of thousands of immigrants in jeopardy. But this is not simply a Texas problem. Community after community across the nation faces the reality of illegal immigrants being dropped off at their doorstep. Right now, every American lives on the border.  "Unlike the president’s funding request, our solution actually gets to the root of the problem: President Obama's policies as enacted by executive order and overly broad application of existing law. Our proposal expedites deportations and drastically restricts measures by which individuals might try to falsely claim asylum. I will continue to urge the President to take common-sense steps to clean up the mess that he created." The Obama Administration has broadly applied a 2008 law - originally intended to assist trafficking victims - to allow tens of thousands of accompanied and unaccompanied minors to stay in the United States. The Administration has also used broad prosecutorial discretion to grant asylum to thousands streaming across the border.   Other key components of the Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act: Fast-tracks the removal of unaccompanied alien minors: Under the bill, all unaccompanied alien minors will be placed in expedited removal proceedings so they can be almost immediately returned home, unless they have a legitimate credible fear of persecution in their home country. Under current law, the Department of Homeland Security is unable to put Central American minors in expedited removal proceedings. As a result, they are released into our communities and are told to appear before an immigration judge years later. Many of them never show up for their hearing. Makes sure minors are returned home safely: The bill provides that the Secretary of State shall negotiate agreements with other countries regarding the safe repatriation of minors, just as the Secretary does now for countries contiguous to the U.S. Implements tougher standards for “credible fear” claims: In order to evade expedited removal proceedings, family units caught along the border or at ports of entry often claim a “credible fear” of persecution in their home countries and seek a hearing before an immigration judge.  While awaiting the hearing, they are released into the U.S. and receive work authorization while their case is pending. The Obama Administration granted approximately 92% of all “credible fear” cases decided on the merits in Fiscal Year 2013, many of which were fraudulent and baseless.  In fact, “credible fear” claims have increased 586% from 2007 to 2013 as word has spread about the rubberstamping of applications. The bill tightens the “credible fear” standard to weed out baseless claims. It also tightens the standard for release from detention under parole authority so that the Obama Administration doesn’t automatically release them before their claims are proved legitimate. Cracks down on asylum fraud: Under the bill, unaccompanied alien minors will not have preferred access to asylum that is not available to others. To reduce fraud, they are required to apply for asylum within a year of entry into the U.S. and are placed in removal proceedings. Protects our communities from gang members: The bill makes members of violent criminal gangs inadmissible to the United States and ineligible for asylum so that unaccompanied alien minor gang members can be more easily removed. Gives Border Patrol access to federal lands: Border Patrol agents in the Rio Grande Valley sector cite restrictions that bar access to federal lands as a significant stumbling block to securing the border. The Departments of Interior and Agriculture currently have rules that prevent Border Patrol agents from accessing federal lands near the border under the guise of environmental preservation. As a result, federal lands along the border provide drug traffickers, human smugglers, and unlawful immigrants effective routes and hiding places where Border Patrol agents cannot reach them.  The bill contains language from Rep. Rob Bishop’s legislation to stop this foolish policy and give Border Patrol access to federal lands along the border. Protects American taxpayers: The Obama Administration wants American taxpayers to foot the bill for lawyers for unaccompanied alien minors in removal proceedings. While the law currently prohibits taxpayer dollars being used to pay for lawyers for unlawful immigrants, the bill makes this prohibition even more explicit to stop the Administration’s plan. Provides additional immigration judges and ICE prosecutors: The bill provides a temporary allotment of immigration judges and ICE prosecutors in order to deal with the surge at the border. Read More

Smith STEM Bill Clears House


The House of Representatives today approved the STEM Education Act of 2014 (H.R. 5031), introduced by Congressman Lamar Smith (TX-21). The STEM Education Act of 2014 strengthens ongoing science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education efforts and ensures computer science is included in these efforts. Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) said: “We need to ensure that young adults have the scientific and mathematical skills to strive and thrive in a technology-based economy.  But we have to capture and hold the desire of our nation’s youth to study science and engineering so they will want to pursue these careers. A healthy and viable STEM workforce, literate in all STEM subjects including computer science, is critical to American industries. We must work to ensure that students continue to go into these fields so that their ideas can lead to a more innovative and prosperous America.” Read More

Smith: Not a Funding Problem, an Enforcement Problem


Congressman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) issued the following statement in response to President Obama’s request for $3.7 billion additional taxpayer dollars for immigration efforts. Congressman Smith: “This isn’t a funding problem, it’s an enforcement problem. Rather than enforce our nation’s immigration laws, the President has chosen to ignore them. Instead, he continues to call for massive amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants. “The President has no one to blame but himself for the current crisis on the Southern border. He granted amnesty to illegal immigrant minors by promising not to deport those brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents. As a result, tens of thousands of illegal immigrants are now flooding across the border. “I’d be happy to give the President $3.7 billion to secure the border if I thought he’d actually do it. But time and again President Obama has shown that he cares more about the interests of illegal immigrants than of law abiding citizens. “Congress shouldn’t give President Obama a single penny until we see him use the current resources to secure the border, increase interior enforcement, and reduce illegal immigration.” Read More

Smith: Amnesty is Not the Answer


Congressman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) issued the following statement in response to President Obama’s decision to pursue amnesty by executive action. Congressman Smith: “When it comes to the crisis on the border, President Obama has no one to blame but himself.  He is the one who promised amnesty to illegal immigrant minors already in the U.S.  As a result, tens of thousands of illegal immigrant minors are now flooding across the border.  Why are they coming? Because of the promise of legalization and amnesty that President Obama advocates. “It is laughable that President Obama now is trying to point the finger at House Republicans.  We’re the ones who have been calling for border security rather than amnesty.  The President insists that the Senate amnesty bill will improve our immigration system.  But amnesty is not the answer.  “As we’ve seen in the past, amnesty only encourages more illegal immigration.  We saw it after the ’86 amnesty.  Congress legalized three million illegal immigrants.  And what happened?  More illegal immigrants came to the U.S.  There are now 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S., and an estimated seven million working here illegally.  “The Founders in Constitution gave Congress the right to establish immigration laws – not the President.  His job is to enforce the laws enacted by Congress.  We don’t need amnesty.  We need border security.  And we need a President who will enforce all of our nation’s immigration laws, not just a select few.  “If the President insists on enacting amnesty by executive order, he will undoubtedly face a lawsuit and will find himself, once again, on the wrong side of the Constitution and the law.” Read More

Smith: Hobby Lobby Decision a Victory for Religious Freedom


Congressman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) issued the following statement in response to today’s Supreme Court ruling regarding the Obamacare contraceptives mandate. Congressman Smith: “Today is a victory for religious freedom across America. The Supreme Court rightly affirmed that the Obama administration cannot require family-owned companies to provide a product or service in violation of their religious beliefs.  It upholds the idea that companies can have a conscience.  “There are many reasons to oppose Obamacare, but the contraceptives mandate strikes at the core of our constitutional rights – freedom of religion. The President believes that universal health care is a right; and he places it above the rights of employers to freely exercise their religious beliefs.  “But only one of these is a right guaranteed by our Founding Fathers in the Constitution.  The First Amendment prevents the government from establishing laws that prohibit the free exercise of religion.  This decision rejects the President’s overreach of authority and restores religious rights to the people.”  Under Obamacare, employers providing health insurance to employees must cover 20 forms of birth control, including the morning after pill, on their insurance plans. In 2012, Hobby Lobby challenged the regulation because of concerns regarding the morning after pill.  While Hobby Lobby already covers 16 forms of contraception in their health insurance plans, they decline to cover those that can destroy an embryo, which violates some churches’ doctrine on the sanctity of life. Hobby Lobby is not alone in its concerns.  More than 90 cases were filed representing 300 plaintiffs challenging Obamacare’s “contraceptives mandate.”  Congressman Smith joined in several amicus briefs supporting the company’s right to exercise freedom of religion. Read More

Smith Commends Supreme Court’s Ruling


Congressman Lamar Smith (TX-21) issued the following statement following the Supreme Court’s ruling that President Obama violated the U.S. Constitution by appointing  individuals to the National Labor Relations Board without the Senate’s approval. Rep. Smith: “Today the Supreme Court rightly reined in President Obama's abuse of executive authority. The Court affirmed that the President's appointments to the National Labor Relations Board were unprecedented and unconstitutional. "The founders established a system of government with checks and balances, so that no branch of government could unilaterally impose its will on the American people. The Constitution grants the Senate the power to provide advice and consent on certain executive branch nominees. In its attempt to circumvent Senate approval process, the Obama administration disregarded the Constitution. "But all government officials are bound by the limits of the Constitution and the rule of law, including the President of the United States.  And today the Court provided a much needed check against the President’s abuse of power.” Read More

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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


Ralph Hall


Jeb Hensarling


Joe Barton


John Culberson


Kevin Brady


Michael McCaul


Michael Conaway


Kay Granger


Mac Thornberry


Randy Weber


Bill Flores


Randy Neugebauer


Pete Olson


Kenny Marchant


Roger Williams


Michael Burgess


Blake Farenthold


John Carter


Pete Sessions


Steve Stockman


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