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Rep. Lamar Smith: Why I'm Retiring

Rep. Lamar Smith: Why I'm Retiring
Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas (AP)

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Monday, 06 November 2017 04:15 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, stunned colleagues last week when announced his retirement in 2018 as the chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee. 

"If you're looking for any inside story on my leaving, the best I can tell you is my six-year term as Science Committee chairman will be up next year, and I'll be just another member of Congress," Smith explained to Newsmax on why he was calling it quits after 31 years in Congress.

"I have one new grandchild and a second arriving soon," said Smith, who turns 70 later this month, "and I hope to find other ways to stay involved in politics."

The three two-year term limits House Republicans impose on their committee chairmen — and which House Democrats do not — "are a key to my leaving," said Smith, who had served earlier as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

But, he quickly added, "I firmly support term limits for chairmen, even though I'm being affected by them. I support rotation in office for committee chairs and feel that it's good for the system."

Any interview with Lamar Smith inevitably gets around to the issue with which he is most identified, illegal immigration. As chairman of the Judiciary Committee, the soft-spoken, bespectacled Texan was universally regarded as a hardliner on illegal immigration. On this issue, he has never backed down.

"Along with [Sen.] Al Simpson, [R-Wyo.,] I introduced legislation in 1996 that would have dealt with the problems that were only beginning then," Smith told me. "It would have doubled the Border Patrol at the entry and exit points along the Mexican border, outlawed sanctuary cities, began implementation of the entry exit system to identify visa overstayers and made it easier to deport illegal immigrants who had committed crimes."

But, he quickly added, "It has never been fully enforced. And it was needed then."

Like many involved in the issue of illegal immigration, Smith believes the current crisis dates back to the 1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act. The measure, guided through Congress by Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., ended 44-year-old quotas that favored European immigrants and opened the door to immigrants from everywhere.

"It was based on false assurances and we are now dealing with far more immigrants than we were led to believe," observed Smith.

A future Congress should realize the problems that started with the 1965 measure, Smith said, "and that bill should be repealed and replaced — just like Obamacare."

Many in the environmental community regard Smith as an enemy of climate change and hold him in the same contempt as they do Senate Environment Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe, R-Okla. The Texan says that is unfair.

"Look, I'm not a climate change denier, but I am a climate change skeptic because of alarmists' unfounded climate change predictions," he said. "Better than more energy taxes and government regulations, is a greater investment in research and technology to reduce the cost of all forms of energy. We should not just rush in to make decisions without more research."

The position of more research is one, he proudly told us, now adopted by The Wall Street Journal, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Secretary Bob Gates.

On President Trump, Smith recalled how he was a strong supporter of fellow Texan and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, for president. But after Cruz withdrew from the race, Smith not only endorsed Trump but became the first member of Congress to contribute to his campaign.

Newsmax reminded Smith how in his first race for Congress from his West Texas district, the former Bexar County GOP Chairman was pilloried by primary foe Van Archer as an "establishment" Republican who did not support Ronald Reagan over Gerald Ford in 1976 (he was neutral) and somehow not truly conservative.

Smith simply replied: "I have a lifetime 91 percent conservative rating by the American Conservative Union for my voting record since I was first elected. I continue to stand for liberty, personal responsibility, traditional values, and a strong national defense."

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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Rep. Lamar Smith announcing his retirement in 2018 as the chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee stunned colleagues last week.
lamar smith, house, science, space, technology, committee
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2017-15-06
Monday, 06 November 2017 04:15 PM
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