Congressman Lamar Smith

Representing the 21st District of Texas
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Judiciary

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Congressman Smith is the former Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and serves on the immigration and intellectual property subcommittees.

For more information on the House Committee on the Judiciary, please go to: http://judiciary.house.gov/

The House Judiciary Committee recently held a hearing to examine Congressman Smith's "Legal Workforce Act," which requires businesses to use E-verify: PDF iconRep. Smith Statement on the Legal Workforce Act.pdf

112th Congress

During the 112th Congress, more than one thousand bills were referred to the Committee on issues ranging from terrorism, crime and immigration to constitutional amendments, civil liberties and federal regulations.  Under Chairman Smith’s leadership, the House Judiciary Committee approved more substantive bills that became law than any other Committee in the House of Representatives.  The Judiciary Committee is not only a workhorse, but also a watch dog.  During Chairman Smith’s tenure, the Committee held 111 oversight hearings of the Department of Justice, the FBI and other federal government agencies. Congressman Smith was the first Texas Republican to serve as Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

Patent Reform

Congressman Smith authored the most significant update to our nation’s patent reform in the last 60 years.  The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act was approved by both the House of Representatives and the Senate, and signed into law on September 16, 2011.  The bill brings our nation’s patent system into the 21st century, enabling better patents to be approved more quickly and reducing frivolous litigation.  The Patent Reform Act updates current law to better protect intellectual property, enhance patent quality and increase public confidence in the integrity of patents. These reforms will help the innovators and job creators of today launch the products and businesses of tomorrow.

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.

Immigration

America has the most generous immigration system in the world, admitting one million legal immigrants each year.  This generosity should continue.  But while we are a nation of immigrants, we are also a nation of laws.  We could improve our nation’s immigration system simply by enforcing current laws. 

In 2010, the non-partisan Government Accountability Office found that only 6.5% of the U.S.-Mexico border was under full control of the Border Patrol.  And, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, as many as 40% of illegal immigrants come to the U.S. legally but overstay their visas. We must do more to secure our border and enforce immigration laws.

Unfortunately, the immigration proposal that was approved earlier this year by the Senate lacks meaningful enforcement.  The bill legalizes 11 million illegal immigrants before it secures the border.  That will only encourage more illegal immigration.

The House of Representatives is taking a better approach by supporting enforcement-first policies.  The Judiciary Committee, on which I serve, has approved bills that increase interior enforcement, save jobs for legal workers, and create guest and skilled worker programs.   In July of this year, the Committee passed The Legal Workforce Act, which I introduced to make it harder for illegal immigrants to take jobs away from legal workers.  The bill requires employers to use the federal government’s employment verification system to ensure that new hires are legally authorized to work in the U.S.  A recent Gallup poll found that 85% of likely voters think businesses should be required to use this system. 

Citizenship is the highest honor our country can bestow.  It should be reserved for those who have followed the law and come in the right way.

Regulations

According to the Small Business Administration, regulations cost the American economy $1.75 trillion annually.  We need to encourage businesses to expand, not tie them up with red tape.

In 2011, Congressman Smith sponsored three bills to reduce regulations and red tape for businesses.  The REINS Act, Regulatory Accountability Act, and Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act were all approved by the House of Representatives.  The bills place meaningful limits on federal agency regulations, including regulations from the EPA that harm small businesses and job growth.  Each of the bills lowers the cost of regulations and provides additional oversight to the regulatory process. For example, the REINS Act (HR 10) requires Congress to take an up-or-down vote on government regulations with an economic impact of at least $100 million before they can be imposed on the American people and businesses.  In 2012, Congressman Smith cosponsored the Regulatory Freeze for Jobs Act, a bill to place a moratorium on all major federal regulations.

If we lift the burden on small businesses, we can free them up to spend more, invest more, and produce more in order to create more jobs for American workers.

Crime
 
Families in many communities across the nation are affected by rising crime rates. Whether its violent gang members on the streets or child predators, more must be done to keep our families, communities and children safe from crime.

Congressman Smith supports tough penalties to keep dangerous criminals off our streets and to deter crime by would-be offenders. Congress must provide effective tools to our state and local law enforcement officials, who are our first defense against violent gangs, drug traffickers, and child predators.

Congress also must ensure that federal criminal penalties are imposed consistently so that similarly-situated offenders are treated in the same manner.

Congressman Smith also believes that protecting the rights of crime victims who play a key role in bringing offenders to justice must be a priority for lawmakers.

More on Judiciary

Mar 20, 2017

WASHINGTON – Congressman Lamar Smith (TX-21) issued the following statement in response to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Declined Detainer Outcome Report (DDOR). This first edition of the report includes information specifically on immigration enforcement in Travis County (Texas).

Mar 15, 2017

Congressman Lamar Smith (TX-21)'s bill, the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act (LARA), passed in the House on March 10, 2017. He discusses with News 4 the need for and impact of LARA.

Mar 10, 2017

Washington, DC – Today, legislation authored and introduced by Congressman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) to penalize lawyers for filing frivolous lawsuits passed in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Lawsuit Abuse Reduction ACT (LARA) of 2017 passed by a vote of 230-188. Congressman Smith and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) gave the following statements.

Mar 10, 2017

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday passed another major legal reform bill, one that would reinstate mandatory sanctions for attorneys who file frivolous lawsuits.

The House, after an hour of general debate plus discussion on various amendments early in the day, voted 230-188 in favor of the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act of 2017, or LARA.

Mar 10, 2017

The House passed legislation Friday aimed at cracking down on attorneys who bring frivolous lawsuits.

The Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act was approved by 230-188 vote. The bill would amend the Federal Rules of Civil Procedures to require judges to sanction attorneys who bring forward a frivolous lawsuit — one that, due to lack of legal merit, a plaintiff has little chance of winning.

Attorneys would be forced to pay the party or parties the amount of the reasonable expenses incurred as a direct result of the violation, including reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs.

Mar 6, 2017

Washington, DC –  Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX) issued the following statement in response to President Trump’s new executive order to protect Americans from potential terrorists and criminals with stricter vetting of refugees and immigrants.

Feb 28, 2017

Washington, DC – Congressman Lamar Smith gave the following statement in response to President Trump’s Joint Address.

Rep. Smith: “The President’s address tonight was a home run. How could anyone disagree with putting Americans first?

Feb 21, 2017

San Antonio – Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX) issued the following statement in response to Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly issuing enforcement memos for the agency on implementing President Trump’s border and interior executive orders.

Rep. Smith: “The American people should thank Secretary Kelly for issuing two enforcement memorandums today that overturn the dangerous immigration policies of President Obama. Secretary Kelly’s actions return the Department of Homeland Security to its central mission. 

Feb 6, 2017

It may be called the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act (LARA) of 2017, but U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith of Austin has been proposing this measure for years without success.

Though prospects for passage were bleak in the past, now with a Republican president in the White House and Republican majorities in both chambers of Congress, things are looking up for LARA.

Feb 2, 2017

Washington, DC –  Today, legislation authored and introduced by Congressman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) to penalize lawyers for filing baseless lawsuits passed in the House Judiciary Committee. The Lawsuit Abuse Reduction ACT (LARA) of 2017 passed by a vote of 17-6.