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 $42 billion, where the primary focus is on research and development. As Chairman of the Science Committee, Congressman Smith promotes legislation that encourages scientific discoveries, space exploration, and new technologies.
Congressman Smith continues to serve on both the Judiciary Committee and the Homeland Security Committee.
In 2011, Congressman Smith was named Policymaker of the Year by POLITICO for his work on patent reform legislation. He was one of two House members to receive this honor. His bill, the America Invents Act, was the only major tech legislation enacted in the last Congress.
Congressman Smith is a former Chairman of the Judiciary Committee and the Ethics Committee and a former member of the Budget Committee. During his time on the Budget Committee, Congress achieved the first balanced budget in over twenty years.
A fifth generation Texan and native of San Antonio, Congressman Smith graduated from Yale University and Southern Methodist University School of Law. Before his election to the House of Representatives, he practiced law, managed a family ranch and began his public service as a Texas state representative and Bexar County commissioner. He and his wife, Beth, have two adult children.
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.
To contact Congressman Smith, please visit his website at www.lamarsmith.house.gov
The 2012 elections produced a large turnover of members of Congress, with many losing reelection bids and others retiring. The 113th Congress begins work this week, and includes 79 freshman members. In addition to new members, there are shifts in positions and committee assignments. Keeping his gavel, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH-8) was re-elected as the Speaker of the House, and Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA-12) will also keep her position as House Minority Leader. Senate leadership remains the same, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Important leadership changes for the science community include a new chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX-21). Budget and appropriations leadership is also changing. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) will be Chair of the Senate Budget Committee, and with the passing of longtime science supporter Senator Inouye (D-HI), the head seat on the Senate Appropriations Committee will need to be filled in the 113th Congress.
New Members of the 113th Congress
With a Democrat-controlled Senate and Republican-controlled House, it will take ample negotiations and commitment by both parties to reach agreements on important issues such as sequestration, federal budgets, the debt ceiling, and other legislation such as supplemental appropriations for Superstorm Sandy damages.
The beginning of a new Congress is a great time to contact your legislators, welcoming them into office if they are new Members. It is important to build relationships with your legislators to keep science policy issues on their minds. You can be a resource for your Representative and Senators and provide them with scientific information and examples that show the societal benefits of science.
The AGU website has a multitude of resources including a listing of the new members of Congress as well as tips on how to connect and prepare you for meeting with legislators. AGU Public Affairs staff are also available to answer any questions and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.