Lamar Smith

Lamar Smith

TEXAS' 21st DISTRICT

Obamacare offers firms $3,000 incentive to hire illegals over native-born workers

2014/11/26

Under the president’s new amnesty, businesses will have a $3,000-per-employee incentive to hire illegal immigrants over native-born workers because of a quirk of Obamacare. President Obama’s temporary amnesty, which lasts three years, declares up to 5 million illegal immigrants to be lawfully in the country and eligible for work permits, but it still deems them ineligible for public benefits such as buying insurance on Obamacare’s health exchanges. Under the Affordable Care Act, that means businesses who hire them won’t have to pay a penalty for not providing them health coverage — making them $3,000 more attractive than a similar native-born worker, whom the business by law would have to cover. The loophole was confirmed by congressional aides and drew condemnation from those who said it put illegal immigrants ahead of Americans in the job market. “If it is true that the president’s actions give employers a $3,000 incentive to hire those who came here illegally, he has added insult to injury,” said Rep. Lamar Smith, Texas Republican. “The president’s actions would have just moved those who came here illegally to the front of the line, ahead of unemployed and underemployed Americans.” A Department of Homeland Security official confirmed that the newly legalized immigrants won’t have access to Obamacare, which opens up the loophole for employers looking to avoid the penalty. The Health and Human Services Department, which oversees Obamacare, referred questions to the White House, which didn’t reply to a request for comment. But Mr. Obama, traveling in Chicago Tuesday to defend his immigration plans, said his moves would boost the economy and vowed they wouldn’t hurt American workers’ wages. “Immigrants are good for the economy. We keep on hearing that they’re bad, but a report by my Council of Economic Advisers put out last week shows how the actions we’re taking will grow our economy for everybody,” he said. This isn’t the first time the Obamacare loophole has popped up on immigration. The overhaul bill that passed the Senate on a bipartisan vote last year created the same situation, granting illegal immigrants a long probationary period where they could legally work but weren’t eligible for public benefits such as Obamacare. At the time, Arizona Sen. John McCain, one of the bill’s GOP authors, acknowledged the problem and vowed to change it before it became law. Despite passing the Senate, the bill has stalled, with Democratic leaders refusing to send it to the House for further action. Brian Rogers, a spokesman for Mr. McCain, said Tuesday the solution to the loophole is to get rid of Obamacare’s employer mandate, “which would eliminate the incentive to hire people who are ineligible for Obamacare subsidies.” Mr. Rogers said the Republican majority that takes control of Congress next year should vote on that proposal. Under Obamacare, businesses with 50 or more employees are supposed to provide insurance coverage to their full-time workers. If they refuse, they are assessed a penalty for every employee who receives subsidies to sign up for coverage on the health exchanges. But because the newly legalized illegal immigrants covered by Mr. Obama’s order can’t sign up for the exchanges or receive subsidies, employers aren’t penalized for hiring them. Employers take notice Some employers have already taken notice, and Dennis Michael Lynch, a documentary filmmaker, raised the issue on political strategist Dick Morris’s radio show in Philadelphia over the weekend. “The dimensions of this problem are enormous. One wonders if any of Obama’s crew spotted it during the run-up to his executive order. It is hard to imagine former President Clinton failing to notice such a conflict between his two major programs,” Mr. Morris said in an op-ed Tuesday in The Hill, a Capitol Hill newspaper. The Obama administration has delayed the employer mandate penalty for some businesses, but it is slated to take full effect in a year. The public is split on Mr. Obama’s latest immigration move. A new Quinnipiac University Poll released Tuesday showed slightly more people opposed the president taking unilateral action than supported him. Just as striking, however, is that overall support for illegal immigrants in America is at an all-time low in the Quinnipiac survey, with 35 percent now saying they should all be pushed out of the country — up from 26 percent just a year ago. Mr. Obama created the Obamacare loophole incentive in a 2012 Homeland Security decision. Until August of that year, those granted “deferred action” — the power Mr. Obama also used in his new temporary amnesty — were eligible for public benefits, including Obamacare. But just two months earlier, Mr. Obama had announced a massive expansion of deferred action for hundreds of thousands of “dreamers,” or young illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, and in order to prevent them from getting public benefits, Homeland Security officials issued a new policy giving the dreamers a new category of legal status that left them outside of Obamacare. Immigrant rights groups protested the move at the time, arguing it left the newly legal dreamers without coverage. The National Immigration Law Center said excluding dreamers from Obamacare amounted to discrimination against tax-paying immigrants who are following the rules, and set up a new second-class status for some immigrants. The NILC didn’t respond to a request for comment on Mr. Obama’s latest move. Read More

Smith Congratulates Student Launch Challenge Teams

2014/11/21

Washington, D.C. – House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) released the following statement congratulating students chosen from around the country to participate in the 2014-2015 NASA Student Launch Challenge: Chairman Smith: “Congratulations to the students chosen to participate in this competition. NASA’s education and public outreach is an important element of STEM education. These are the students we must inspire to pursue STEM careers so they can help us blaze the trail to the next frontier. NASA has selected eight teams from middle and high schools across the country to participate in the 2014-2015 NASA Student Launch Challenge, April 7-12, organized by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The Student Launch Challenge engages students in a research-based, experiential exploration activity. Teams participating in the challenge must design, build and launch a reusable rocket, with a scientific or engineering payload, capable of reaching an altitude of one mile. The 2014-2015 middle and high school teams who will compete are: Durham Area Rocketry, Durham, North Carolina Krueger Middle School, San Antonio, Texas Madison West High School (Land Imaging), Madison, Wisconsin Madison West High School (Muons), Madison, Wisconsin Plantation High School, Plantation, Florida Spring Grove High School, Spring Grove, Pennsylvania St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, Akron, Ohio Victory Christian Center School, Charlotte, North Carolina NASA Student Launch is open to middle and high school students, and university and college students. The program is intended to advance education in science, technology, engineering and math and expose students to careers in aeronautics and aerospace. ### Read More

Smith: President Ends Criminal Deportation Program

2014/11/21

Congressman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) released the following statement in further response to immigration executive actions President Obama signed today: Congressman Smith: “The president wants to rewrite our immigration laws and give amnesty and work permits to millions of illegal immigrants. These actions put millions of illegal immigrants ahead of Americans and those who followed the rules in order to live in the United States lawfully. But the president also eliminated a highly successful program that takes criminal illegal immigrants off our streets and assists in removing them from the country. “The Secure Communities program was put in place in 2008 as a partnership between local law enforcement and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Despite a lack of support from this administration, the program has been used to remove almost 400,000 convicted criminal aliens. Local officials, many in my home state of Texas, have used the Secure Communities program to protect Americans and keep our communities safe. Those identified under the program are often repeat offenders and have committed crimes such as theft, assault, drunk and drugged driving, and even murder. “The president cannot claim that he will prioritize deportation of felons while scrapping a successful program designed to do just that.” The Secure Communities program uses an already-existing federal-information sharing partnership between U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation that helps to identify criminal aliens so that ICE can take enforcement action. To date, over 375,000 convicted criminal aliens have been removed as a result of Secure Communities. A White House memo released Thursday stated that the president’s actions would do away with the program but claims it would replace with a new ‘Priority Enforcement Program.’ Few details have been made available regarding and how it would differ from Secure Communities.   Read More

Smith Statement on President's Executive Amnesty

2014/11/21

Congressman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) issued the following statement today after the White House announced that President Obama will provide legal status and work permits to as many as 5 million illegal immigrants: Congressman Smith: “The president knows that his executive amnesty is not what the American people want, and it is not what Congress wants. That is why he delayed making this announcement until after this November’s election. “President Obama has put the interests of an extreme wing of his party above the interests of American workers. Some have said that the actions he is taking this week equal a declaration of war on Republicans. I believe he is actually declaring war on the American people and our democracy. “As elected representatives of the American people, my colleagues and I intend to listen to our constituents in the coming weeks. We must restore the rule of law and the people’s faith in their democratic republic once more.” Read More

Smith: American People Oppose President’s Plan

2014/11/19

Washington, D.C.  – Congressman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) issued the following statement today after the White House announced that President Obama will provide legal status and work permits to as many as 5 million illegal immigrants later this week: Congressman Smith: “The president is threatening amnesty by executive order, which he has said repeatedly he doesn’t have authority to do. “A strong majority of the American people oppose amnesty by executive order and so does Congress. They also oppose actions that would threaten American workers and weaken our borders. “The actions President Obama is planning would be unprecedented and contrary to his oath of office to enforce the nation’s laws.”   A recent survey by The Polling Company found that three-quarters of voters want the president to work with Congress to change immigration policies, not act on his own. Read More

Smith: President Prefers Border Sabotage Over Border Security

2014/11/15

Congressman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) released the following statement today in response to a State Department announcement that could open the door for millions to come to the U.S. from Central American countries.  Congressman Smith: "The American people just suffered through an unprecedented border-surge as a result of the president's policies. Despite the fact that many who came from these same Central American countries should have been sent home, they are now being told to invite family to join them.  "The president cannot continue to claim he cares about border security when he only has an appetite for border sabotage." In addition to those who came as part of the recent border surge, today's announcement would apply to a much larger number of lawful permanent residents, those with temporary protected status, parole, withholding of removal, deferred action, and deferred enforced departure. Those who qualify under the broad Obama administration terms and have a spouse or children under 21 in Honduras, Guatemala, or El Salvador could petition for those family members to be considered for in-country refugee processing or parole in the United States. Read More

Smith: President is Standing in the Way of 40,000 Keystone Jobs

2014/11/14

Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today released the following statement after voting in favor of a proposal to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. Chairman Smith: “The president is the only one standing in the way of the Keystone XL pipeline and 40,000 new energy jobs. After six long years of thorough review – including hearings held by the House Science Committee – we know that this pipeline will enhance our energy independence with minimal impact to the environment. I urge the Senate to finally bring this legislation to the floor for a vote. If the president is listening to the American people, he will quickly approve the Keystone pipeline.” The Senate is expected to pass a similar bill that could be sent to the president as early as next week. The bill would clear the way for building of the 875-mile Keystone XL pipeline. The Science Committee’s Energy and Environment Subcommittees held a joint hearing in May 2013 to examine the safety and environmental features of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. Following that hearing, Smith sent a letter urging the State Department to “rely upon sound science informed by its own extensive record and analysis, and prevent political intervention from influencing its decision.” Despite claims from those who oppose the project, the State Department has stated that the proposed pipeline would “have a degree of safety over any other typically constructed domestic oil pipeline” and concluded it would have minimal impact to resources along the proposed route. Additionally, the Department estimated that construction of the pipeline would support over 40,000 jobs. The pipeline would deliver up to 830,000 barrels per day of Canadian oil sands and Bakken crude from North Dakota to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast. Read More

Smith Statement on President’s Plans for Executive Action on Immigration

2014/11/13

WASHINGTON – Congressman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) released the following statement today in response to news reports of President Obama’s plans to enact immigration measures by executive order: Congressman Smith: “This executive order would be a violation of the president’s oath of office and a blatant abuse of power. The president has sworn an oath of office to uphold the law but now he is planning to re-write them on his own. The Constitution specifically gives Congress – not the president – the power to make immigration laws. The president himself has repeatedly said he does not have the power to re-write immigration laws. “These actions would be a direct hit on American workers and their families. Many Americans are underemployed and are struggling to find full-time, good-paying jobs. By giving work permits to millions of illegal immigrants, the president would put them above the needs of millions of unemployed and underemployed Americans.” On March 28, 2011, President Obama said, “With respect to the notion that I can just suspend deportations through executive order, that’s just not the case, because there are laws on the books that Congress has passed . . . .  [F]or me to simply through executive order ignore those congressional mandates would not conform to my appropriate role as President.”  On July 25, 2011, President Obama stated, “I swore an oath to uphold the laws on the books . . . .  I know some people want me to bypass Congress and change the (immigration) laws on my own . . . .  But that’s not how – that’s not how our system works.  That’s not how our democracy functions.  That’s not how our Constitution is written.” On September 28, 2011, during a White House forum on Hispanic issues, President Obama claimed, “[T]his notion that somehow I can just change the laws unilaterally is just not true . . . .  But the fact of the matter is there are laws on the books that I have to enforce . . . .  [T]he notion that somehow, by myself, I can go and do these things.  It’s just not true.” On November 25, 2013, President Obama responded to individuals who called on him to stop deportations of illegal immigrants by saying, “[I]f, in fact, I could solve all these problems without passing laws in Congress, then I would do so.  But we’re also a nation of laws.” ### Congressman Smith represents the 21st District of Texas. He was named the most effective lawmaker in the 112th Congress when he served as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. He also serves on the Committee on Homeland Security and as chairman of the House Science, Space, & Technology Committee. Read More

Smith Congratulates Nationally Recognized Texas Health Facilities

2014/11/13

Congressman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today congratulated two health facilities in Texas’s 21st Congressional District that are being recognized with the 2014 Malcom Baldrige National Quality Award. Hill Country Memorial in Fredericksburg, Texas and St. David’s HealthCare in Austin, Texas are receiving the award, which is the nation’s highest Presidential honor for performance excellence through innovation, improvement and visionary leadership.   Congressman Smith:  “Congratulations to Hill Country Memorial and St. David’s HealthCare on receiving this high honor. The facts speak for themselves: two out of four of this year’s award winners hail from Central Texas. Their records of excellence and community service make them among the top health care providers in the nation.” Two other awardees were named today: PricewaterhouseCoopers Public Sector Practice in McLean, Virginia received an award for service, and Elevations Credit Union in Boulder, Colorado was recognized as a nonprofit organization. An independent board of examiners recommended this year’s Baldrige Award recipients from a field of 22 applicants after evaluating them in seven areas: leadership; strategic planning; customer focus; measurement, analysis and knowledge management; workforce focus; operations focus; and results. The Baldrige Award was established by Congress in 1987 as a program within the Commerce Department’s National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST). The 2014 Baldrige Award will be presented at an April 2015 ceremony during the Quest for Excellence conference in Baltimore, Maryland. Read More

Smith on Obama-China Climate Deal: Americans Get Short End of the Stick

2014/11/12

Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today released the following statement after President Obama announced a climate deal with China. Chairman Smith: “President Obama negotiated a deal to tie our economy’s hands while driving up energy costs for hardworking American families. I fail to see how this agreement benefits the United States. China has not promised to do anything other than increase its own energy production at unprecedented rates. Why would the president boast about an agreement where the American people come up with the short end of the stick?” Read More

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Contact Information

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

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

Ralph Hall

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

Randy Neugebauer

TEXAS' 19th DISTRICT

Pete Olson

TEXAS' 22nd 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

Steve Stockman

TEXAS' 36th DISTRICT

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