Washington, DC – Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX) gave the following statement today on the Trump Administration’s decision to rescind the Obama Administration’s unconstitutional “Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents.”
Rep. Smith: “The DAPA program is an unconstitutional action taken by President Obama that granted amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants. I support the Trump Administration’s decision to rescind this illegal program and restore the rule of law.”
Background compiled by the House Judiciary Committee:
Washington, DC – Congressman Lamar Smith voted today to support The Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017 (S. 1094).
The Department of Veterans Affairs’ arcane civil service rules have allowed for months of paid leave for an employee who was involved in an armed robbery, a nurse who took part in surgery while intoxicated and a manager responsible for hospital construction delays costing over $1 billion. The Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017 creates a more efficient and streamlined removal process for poor performing employees while still protecting due process rights and the right to appeal.
Rep. Smith: “This legislation allows the VA Secretary more flexibility to remove, demote or suspend employees who are engaged in unprofessional behavior and not providing the quality of service our veterans deserve. It’s unfair to veterans and the vast majority of dedicated employees at Texas VA facilities when the agency doesn’t hold employees accountable.”
In March, the House passed H.R. 1259, the VA Accountability First Act of 2017. The Senate passed S. 1094, the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017 on June 6, 2017. Because the Senate accountability bill passed today in the House, it will now go to the President Trump to be signed into law.Read More
Washington, DC – Today Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX) gave the following statement on his vote in support of the Financial CHOICE Act (H.R. 10), which passed in the House 233-186:
Rep. Smith: “The Dodd-Frank law over-regulates the financial services sector and has permanently closed the doors of hundreds of local banks across the country. Under Dodd-Frank it has become more expensive for families to buy a home, send a child to college, plan for retirement or to start a business.
“The Financial CHOICE Act removes burdens that discourage bank lending, decreases the cost of compliance, and improves access to credit. The CHOICE Act also ends Dodd-Frank’s taxpayer bailout of banks, called “Too Big To Fail.” Communities across Texas and America will be well-served by the accountability, opportunities and transparency in Chairman Hensarling’s bill.”Read More
Science plays a critical role in the lives of all Americans. Every day, people around the world devote their lives to science and strive to advance our understanding of such complex subjects as human health and the environment.
To uphold the highest professional standards means to support the scientific method. This model helps guarantee that theories undergo rigorous experimentation and that when results do not match the original hypothesis or when reproducibility is not possible, that scientists reconsider their theories.
The media often overlook the fact that many of these “scientific discoveries” cannot be reproduced, which is a basic tenet of the scientific method. In 2016, Nature conducted a survey of over 1,500 scientists, which found that 70 percent of researchers have tried and failed to reproduce another scientist’s experiments.
Scientists should be held to the same level of scrutiny as professionals in all fields. They are not without fault and their work should not be exempt from inspection. In fact, because their work frequently leads to costly environmental regulations paid for by hardworking Americans, scientists should be held to the highest standards. It does a disservice to all scientists if some are dismissing basic principles of the scientific method and producing results that cannot be verified.
Scientists today are hesitant to consider contradictory viewpoints and change their hypotheses, even when presented with contradictory credible data. This comes as no surprise when the media are quick to publish what they call mainstream scientific findings and scientists are largely funded by those with a predetermined agenda.
In effect, the media are dictating what science is worth believing. This type of behavior is anti-science and should be shut down. Let science stand on its own merits, and let American citizens have access to all the science. We should also invite open and honest debate, not stifle differing scientific opinions. These basic scientific principles underpin commonsense legislation that I have sponsored such as the HONEST Act, which requires that Environmental Protection Agency regulations be based on data that is publicly available.
Those who claim to be on the side of science, yet reject scientific data that does not fit their worldview, appeared to be overwhelmingly represented at the “March for Science.” Marching for science should mean having the courage to consider all credible viewpoints, even those that could potentially disprove long-standing theories. Marching for science means accepting that science is never settled, and that new observations and discoveries cannot be ignored and should even be encouraged.
The Science Committee is committed to advancing science by upholding its core principles. Just last month, the committee held a hearing on climate science and the scientific method with notable and respected scientific scholars. Unfortunately, many chose not to focus on the remaining scientific uncertainties we face before meaningful action is considered. Scientific debate should continue to enhance our understanding of issues such as the world’s changing climate.
It is unfortunate that those who question what the media and others consider the scientific “status quo” are stigmatized as being “against science.” It is time to recognize that science is not a set of facts, but a path to discovery, with rapidly changing theories and persistent inquiry.
We as a society should welcome commentary from both sides of scientific debates. When it comes to science on which environmental regulations are based, for example, a holistic approach is the only way to move from “trust-me science” to science that has a strong foundation based on the scientific method.
Congressman Lamar Smith represents the 21st district of Texas in the House of Representatives and is the chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee.Read More
Overhead costs, such as fees for administrative support and building maintenance, are on a slow rise and becoming a larger share of federal research spending, a congressional investigator said May 24.
A study by the Government Accountability Office, the research arm of Congress, shows that some $1.3 billion out of NSF’s $6 billion annual research budget is consumed by payment of these indirect costs to universities and research institutions.
Similarly, in 2015, the National Institutes of Health spent some $6.3 billion on indirect costs, accounting for 27% of its $24 billion extramural research budget, notes John Neumann, director of natural resources & environment at GAO. He discussed GAO’s findings at a U.S. House or Representatives hearing.
Members of the House Science, Space & Technology Committee expressed concern about GAO’s findings.
“We must look at whether or not those overhead funds are being spent efficiently,” said Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.), “particularly in a time of tough budgets, when only one out of five research grant proposals are funded.”
Comstock, who chairs the panel’s Subcommittee on Research & Technology, pointed out that since the 1960s, every institution negotiates its own indirect cost rate with the federal government. Indirect cost rates for universities and institutions vary widely from less than 1% to more than 60%.
This overhead, says Science Committee Chair Lamar Smith (R-Texas), “would pay for 2,000 more scientific research projects. It raises a question of whether or not we have inadvertently created a system of ‘haves and have nots,’ where wealthy institutions benefit the most.”
Overhead spending varies by region and research type, Duke University’s James Luther told lawmakers. Medical research’s high overhead costs, he said, stem from complex facilities and equipment. Public policy research, in contrast, calls for more computers and office space.
But, Luther stressed, direct costs, which cover the cost of researchers’ salaries and equipment, inseparable from indirect ones. “If direct costs are the gas for the research engine, facilities and administrative reimbursements are the oil. A research engine requires both.”
Lawmakers and hearing witnesses talked about possible reforms, including a ranking system that weighs overhead costs or a fixed overhead cap. Overall, however, they expressed concern along the lines of committee member Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), who warned of “unintended consequences” in cutting science budgets or reducing overhead costs.
“Let’s be certain any changes we make keep the best scientists doing the most important work,” Beyer said. “Let’s make sure we are not initiating a race to the bottom, with prizes to the lowest bidder doing the least valuable research.”
Washington, DC – Congressman Lamar Smith (TX-21) released the following statement today after the Administration released the Fiscal Year 2018 budget.
Rep. Smith: “President Trump is keeping his promises to build a strong military, secure the border, cut taxes and lower deficits. The President’s plan balances budget and reins in federal spending programs that ballooned under the Obama administration.”Read More
U.S. Reps. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Fred Upton (R-MI) voiced support for an executive order signed by President Donald Trump on Thursday to fortify the federal government’s computer security networks and bolster national defenses.
Under the executive order, agency heads will have 90 days to review cybersecurity capabilities, they will be “accountable for managing cybersecurity risk to their enterprises,” and they will be required to adopt the Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity drafted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
Blackburn, the chairwoman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, Upton, the chairman of the Subcommittee on Energy, and Smith, the chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, lauded the order as a key step in shoring up economic and national security.
“Given the importance cybersecurity plays in our daily lives, our economic well being, and its integral role in our nation’s infrastructure, we have to ensure that all federal agencies are adequately prepared and actively working to mitigate the actions of malicious actors across the country and around the globe,” Blackburn and Upton said in a joint statement. “We welcome this review and are looking forward to working with the administration to fortify the nation’s cyber infrastructure.”
Smith noted that cybersecurity is critical to national security, and that Trump’s order signals that he is taking the matter seriously.
“This executive order gives federal agencies the right direction, goals and priorities to keep America safe,” Smith said. “Requiring federal agencies to use the NIST Framework will help ensure cyber readiness across the government.”
Smith noted that his committee previously advanced legislation, the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, Assessment and Auditing Act, H.R. 1224, that would help implement the executive order. The measure would require NIST to assist agencies in adopting the framework, assessing preparedness and evaluating effectiveness.
“I’m also pleased to see cyber-workforce development underscored in the executive order,” Smith said.
“To effectively manage cybersecurity, we need a talented and qualified workforce to protect our information and networks. Cyber-attacks are a growing threat to our country, to our economy, and to individuals’ privacy,” Smith added.
Trump’s executive order also said the government would prioritize more collaborative public-private partnerships in threat assessment, detection, protection and mitigation when it comes to protecting the nation’s infrastructure.
And the federal government will work to strengthen its deterrence posture as a nation and forge international coalitions to fight back against cyberattacks across the globe, the order said.Read More
Protecting animals has never been a partisan concern – in fact, in our experience, it is a unifying cause on Capitol Hill. That’s why we’re pleased, as a Democrat and a Republican, to lead the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus. Our group is built on the principle of passing legislation to prevent cruelty and protect vulnerable creatures.
Though we represent different districts on opposite coastlines, animal protection is an issue that resonates strongly with our constituents, unites us as legislators, and reminds us of the shared purposes and values of our nation.
The passion of Americans for animals is driving Congress to act on a number of fronts and protect animals.
In the spirit of bipartisanship, we ask our fellow legislators to consider joining as cosponsors and working to enact the following reforms, which all enjoy bipartisan support:
The Big Cat Safety Act
This bill limits breeding and prohibits the possession of vulnerable big cats like tigers and lions. The bill would help protect public safety, global big cat conservation efforts, and the animals themselves, who are often subjected to abusive and inhumane conditions in private captivity. The bill was introduced by Reps. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), Walter Jones (R-N.C.), and Niki Tsongas (D-Mass.).
Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act
One-third of domestic violence victims delay leaving a violent situation out of fear for their pets’ safety. The PAWS Act would allow pets to be protected across state lines when restraining orders are issued in domestic violence cases and authorize grant money to help domestic violence shelters accommodate pets. The PAWS Act was introduced by Reps. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.)
Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act
This legislation would end the cruel practice of “soring,” in which unscrupulous trainers deliberately inflict pain on the hooves and legs of Tennessee Walking Horses and related breeds using caustic chemicals, sharp objects and other gruesome techniques to produce a pain-based, artificially high-stepping gait known as the “big lick.” This practice is deeply concerning, widely derided, and already subject to a congressional ban. This legislation would fill gaps in the existing law to fulfill the intent of Congress and save these animals from further abuse. The bill was introduced by Reps. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.), and Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.).
Dog and Cat Meat Prohibition Act
This legislation would amend the Animal Welfare Act to prohibit the domestic slaughter, trade, and import of dogs and cats for human consumption, and to provide penalties for involvement in the dog or cat meat trade. It would serve as an important symbol of leadership for countries and regions such as South Korea and China that still engage in the trade. The United States should be a leader against this inhumane and unsafe industry. Passing this commonsense legislation will encourage other nations to follow suit. The Dog and Cat Meat Prohibition Act is sponsored by Reps. Buchanan, Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), Dave Trott (R-Mich.) and Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.).
Shark Fin Trade Elimination Act
This bill would better protect sharks from cruelty and preserve our oceans’ fragile ecosystems by strengthening federal laws against the bloody and wasteful practice of shark finning: cutting off sharks’ fins and tossing the mutilated animals back into the ocean to die. This bill would expand on the Shark Finning Prohibition Act of 2000 and the Shark Conservation Act of 2010. While those laws banned shark finning and the transportation of any such fins on U.S.-flagged vessels, this bill would aid much-needed prevention by prohibiting the actual trade in shark fins. The bill was introduced by Reps. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), and Gregorio Sablan (D-Northern Mariana Island).
Humane Cosmetics Act
Today, more than 1.7 billion consumers live in countries that have banned cosmetics testing on animals and the sale of cosmetics tested on animals, including the European Union and India. These tests are not predictive of the human experience, painful to animals, and simply unnecessary. Congress can help the United States remain a leader in the sale of cosmetics by making it unlawful for anyone to manufacture or sell cosmetics that have been tested on animals. The Humane Cosmetics Act, sponsored by Reps. Matha McSally (R-Ariz.), and Don Beyer (D-Va.), had the bipartisan support of 174 House cosponsors in the 114th Congress, and would create an incentive for cosmetics to be tested with cutting-edge technologies that are more humane, faster to perform, and less costly to industry. They intend to reintroduce the measure soon.
Prevent Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act
There are federal penalties for animal fighting and for obscene video depictions of animals being crushed, burned, drowned, suffocated, impaled or subjected to other forms of cruelty. Unfortunately, gaps remain for other malicious acts of cruelty. The PACT Act would strengthen the law and prohibit extreme acts of animal cruelty in interstate or foreign commerce, regardless of whether a video was produced. It is sponsored by Reps. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), and Ted Deutch (D-Fla.). A Senate version, introduced by Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), passed the Senate by unanimous consent last year.
All these bills are sponsored by both Democrats and Republicans, and deserve the consideration of all members of Congress. Together, we can improve the lives of animals, and prove that our values as Americans will never take a backseat to party politics.
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla) are the co-chairs of the bipartisan Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, which has nearly 150 members. They are also senior members of the House Ways and Means Committee.Read More
President Trump’s executive order on cybersecurity won early supporters on Capitol Hill, though several expressed continuing concern about the path forward to defend against cyber threats.
Trump signed the long-awaited executive order on Thursday, thought drafts have been circulating since the White House abruptly cancelled a planned signing event in January.
The executive order says agencies should be held accountable for their own cybersecurity and requires, effective immediately, that they use the cybersecurity framework developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), who chairs the House Science Committee, celebrated the order’s NIST framework requirement. Smith’s committee has approved legislation that would require NIST to audit and assist agencies that adopt the framework.
“Cybersecurity is critical to national security, and today’s executive order shows that President Trump is taking the matter seriously,” Smith said.
The order also places a premium on adopting newer, more secure information technology in the executive branch. In addition, it orders a number of assessments, including those on critical infrastructure protection, threats to the defense industrial base and military platforms, and the disruption of botnets.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who has taken aim at the new administration for its lack of movement toward a cyber policy or strategy, expressed appreciation for Trump’s interest in understanding the threats in cyberspace—but said plainly, “We do not need more assessments, reports, and reviews.”
“I hope the various reviews ordered today will be completed quickly and build on the many assessments required by the past two defense authorization bills so we can move on to the urgent business of formulating a strategy to deter, defend against, and respond to cyberattacks on our nation,” McCain added.
Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.), a member of a cyber subcommittee in the House, expressed support for the executive order, particularly its provisions related to federal network and critical infrastructure protection. He described the order as largely a “continuation of the Obama administration’s approach” to cybersecurity.
Langevin, however, expressed concerns about the Trump administration’s slow pace of filling cybersecurity roles at the Departments of Homeland Security and Defense, which he indicated could compromise implementation of the executive order.
“I remain deeply concerned by the president’s lack of urgency in appointing officials to fill critical cybersecurity roles, including at the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security,” Langevin said.
“The [executive order] contains important guidelines for improving our cybersecurity posture, but without personnel to implement it, I am afraid our nation will continue to be at risk.”
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), a frequent administration critic, said she was "pleased" to see the executive order.
"I stand ready to work with the President and his Administration on essential efforts to strengthen the federal government’s cybersecurity and to protect our communities, businesses, and institutions from cyberattacks," she said.
Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Ill.), ranking member of an IT subcommittee, described the order as a “long-overdue first step,” but expressed concern about vacant cybersecurity positions in high levels of government.
“As the administration makes these commitments, key cybersecurity positions in the White House and federal agencies, including the Federal CIO, are still vacant,” Kelly told The Hill. “We cannot continue to just talk about updating our IT infrastructure, investing in our IT workforce, and enhancing our national security; we need to act.”
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who chairs the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affair, said that he was encouraged by the administration making cybersecurity matters a priority, but didn’t offer specific comments on the executive order.
“We must ensure that our data is secure and our critical infrastructure is not vulnerable to attacks,” Johnson said. “I’m glad to see the Trump administration is making these issues a priority and I look forward to reviewing the executive order.”
Johnson and other members of the committee on Thursday underscored the need for a cyber deterrence and response strategy.
Concerns about cyber threats have run high in the wake of major intrusions, including the Office of Personnel Management breach and the DNC hacks related to Russian interference efforts against the 2016 presidential election.Read More
In an unusual step, Governor Greg Abbott went on Facebook Sunday evening to sign a bill banning sanctuary cities in Texas.
The law approved by the Texas Legislature allows police to inquire about a person’s immigration status during routine interactions such as traffic stops. It also threatens to jail sheriffs who refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
Protesters gathered outside the governor’s mansion, chanting ,” We are the mighty, mighty immigrants fighting for justice.”
“This law is very, very very vague. It’s made for nothing but sensationalism,” said San Antonio attorney Luis Vera, who represents the League of United Latin American Citizens.
“The governor of Texas like many Republican, like to rile up their base,” Vera said.
Republican Congressman Lamar Smith was pleased that the governor signed the bill into law.
“I’m really grateful that our neighborhoods are gonna be safer. Our communities are going to be safer. We’re not going to have government officials releasing criminals into our community,” said Smith.
San Antonio Police Chief William McManus has spoken out against the law, saying it will lead to profiling.
The law goes into effect September 1.Read More
2409 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
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.
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HAPPENING NOW: Markup of H.R. 2763, the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer Improvements Act of 2017
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