Rep. Lamar Smith, the controversial chairman of the House Science Committee, introduced Thursday that he’ll depart Congress when his time period ends in 2018.
The 16-term Texas Republican is among the longest-serving members of the state’s congressional delegation, and has typically tussled with lecturers, scientific organizations and authorities regulators since grow to be Science chairman in 2013. In a letter to constituents, Smith mentioned there have been a number of causes he’s selecting to not search reelection subsequent 12 months, together with that he’ll full his time period as chairman of the House Science Committee. Smith mentioned he’s trying ahead to spending extra time along with his grandchildren, and “I hope to find other ways to stay involved in politics.”
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This 12 months, Smith has been instrumental in resurfacing previous allegations about Russian efforts to fund activists opposed to grease and fuel drilling, an effort critics say is designed to distract from controversy over whether or not any members of President Donald Trump’s marketing campaign had been concerned with Russia’s efforts to disrupt final 12 months’s election. On Tuesday, he wrote to executives at Facebook, Twitter and Alphabet requesting details about Russian purchases of anti-fracking adverts on social media platforms.
Smith mentioned he seems to be ahead to staying busy.
“With over a year remaining in my term, there is still much to do,” he wrote within the letter Thursday. “There is legislation to enact, dozens of hearings to hold, and hundreds of votes to cast.”
During the Obama administration, officers on the National Science Foundation, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Energy Department all discovered themselves in Smith’s cross-hairs. The 69-year-old lawmaker, who beforehand chaired the House Judiciary Committee, additionally made common makes an attempt to develop his committee’s jurisdiction over cybersecurity to launch far-reaching probes concentrating on the New York Federal Reserve, Healthcare.gov and the businesses that supplied software program to Hillary Clinton’s e mail server.
He antagonized the broader science group when he touted numerous NSF grants as “frivolous” and sought to restructure how totally different areas of science had been funded by the federal authorities.
Smith has additionally used his perch on the Science panel to undermine the Obama administration’s efforts to deal with local weather change, elevating a number of world warming skeptics to query the settlement among the many overwhelming majority of local weather scientists that people are the primary driver of the phenomenon.
Smith’s 21st District, which takes in components of Austin and San Antonio in addition to rural counties to the west, has been solidly Republican up to now. Mitt Romney received practically 60 % of the vote there in 2012.
But Trump received 52 % to Hillary Clinton’s 42 % within the district in 2016, and a number of other Democrats noticed a possibility to problem Smith earlier than he introduced his retirement. One Democrat, veteran Joseph Kopser, outraised Smith within the third quarter and has over $219,000 in his marketing campaign account.
“The people of Texas are losing a dedicated public servant and skilled legislator, but we are confident they will select another conservative Republican like Chairman Smith who shares their values,” mentioned National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Steve Stivers (R-Ohio).
Smith’ relationship with Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, the highest Democrat on the Science Committee and a fellow Texan, has been rocky for years. Both lawmakers are soft-spoken and have served collectively in Congress for greater than twenty years. But Johnson has accused Smith of bringing “disrepute to our institution” and turning his panel into “little more than an arm of the Republican National Committee,” significantly when he began issuing subpoenas in 2013, the primary in 21 years.
Smith has subpoenaed the EPA for well being information used for clear air laws, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration beneath the suspicion scientific paper on local weather change was mishandled.
Scott Bland and John Bresnahan contributed to this report.