Texas’ delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives will get a major makeover next year. Nine Texans are leaving the House, and we’ve asked each of them to talk with Texas Standard about their time in office.
After three decades on Capitol Hill, Rep. Lamar Smith is stepping down, or “graduating,” as Paul Ryan says. He’s a Republican from San Antonio who’s previously chaired the House Judiciary and Ethics committees, and currently helms the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.
On why he’s “graduating” now:
The reason I chose to graduate, or retire, right now is really twofold. First of all, on the Republican side, we had term limits for committee chairs, and even subcommittee chairs, and I had served my six years as science committee chairman, and so [I] faced the bleak prospect of not being able to chair a committee in the next congress. And so it seemed like a good time to leave before I was sort of wandering around aimlessly wondering what I was going to do. The second precipitating reason was basically two new grandchildren; one is two-and-a-half and one is about one, and I sure would like to spend more time with them.
On climate change:
A lot of my views about climate change have been misrepresented. … I certainly believe in climate change. … There’s just too many variables and too many unknowables, and I am skeptical – very skeptical – of these alarmist environmentalists who are going to try to tell the American people what the weather is going to be like 100 years from now. There is no way anyone can know.
You’re going to have partisanship because people feel strongly about their philosophy, their political philosophy. It doesn’t need to be as personal as it is now. I think there’s probably more getting done as a result of bipartisan work than might be expected. The problem for the House members is the number of bills we’ve sent over to the Senate – now over 500 – that have never seen the light of day, and many of those bills passed over here without any dissent. So, it’s frustrating to us in the House how slowly the Senate operates, and that’s part of it as well.
Written by Morgan Kuehler.