Powerful GOP Rep. Lamar Smith Announces Retirement

Bill Clark/CQPHO

The powerful Republican Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) announced Thursday that he would not seek another term in Congress, spelling an end to the conservative’s three decade career in the House of Representatives.

“For several reasons, this seems like a good time to pass on the privilege of representing the 21st District to someone else,” Smith said in a statement shared with TPM (read the full statement below). He added: “With over a year remaining in my term, there is still much to do. There is legislation to enact, dozens of hearings to hold and hundreds of votes to cast.”

Smith, who chairs the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, joins a growing list of Republican incumbents opting not to seek re-election in 2018, in both chambers: more than a dozen representatives, in addition to Sens. Bob Corker (R-TN) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ).

Long a skeptic of the science demonstrating human-caused climate change, Smith in July acknowledged a “changing climate,” but only to suggest it might have “positive effects” for life on Earth.

“The use of fossil fuels and the byproducts of carbon enrichment play a large role in advancing the quality of human life by increasing food production to feed our growing population, stimulating the economy, and alleviating poverty,” he wrote.

In January, expressing frustration with the “national liberal media,” Smith said from the House floor: “Better to get your news directly from the President. In fact, it might be the only way to get the unvarnished truth.”

Read Rep. Smith’s full statement announcing his retirement below:

Dear Friend,

I am grateful for the trust voters have placed in me, the friendship constituents have shown me, and the opportunities that serving in Congress have given me.

Representing the 21st District and its more than 700,000 residents is an honor almost beyond description. To enact legislation that will benefit millions of Americans and to help constituents in their dealings with the federal government has been an immense privilege.  

Having chaired the Ethics, Judiciary, and Science Committees, and also served as a member of the Homeland Security and Budget Committees, I’ve been able to shape policy involving ethics, immigration, crime, intellectual property, space, energy, the environment, the budget and high tech. 

And, through the years, it’s been gratifying to have been named one of the 100 most influential people in D.C., one of the most effective members of Congress, and Legislator of the Year.

It is humbling living in a small apartment in Washington four nights a week. And I seldom leave the office before late at night.  But traveling back to Texas almost every weekend recharges the batteries.

For several reasons, this seems like a good time to pass on the privilege of representing the 21st District to someone else. At the end of this Congress, I will have completed my six-year term as Chairman of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee. I have one new grandchild and a second arriving soon!!  And I hope to find other ways to stay involved in politics.

With over a year remaining in my term, there is still much to do. There is legislation to enact, dozens of hearings to hold, and hundreds of votes to cast.

Our nation faces many challenges but we will always prevail if we put the interests of American citizens and taxpayers first. A successful democracy requires an honest media, true patriots, and respect for the rule of law. All of us can do our part to help promote these ideals. 

Heartfelt thanks and much appreciation goes to family, friends, constituents, colleagues, and staff members for a productive three decades. I will always value their dedication and support.

Let’s stay in touch and let me know when I can be of help.

Lamar

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.
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