FOX 7 Discussion: Lamar Smith announces retirement

Congressman Lamar Smith - who represents parts of Austin, San Antonio and the Hill Country will not seek re-election. He is the latest member of the GOP to "call it quits" on Capitol Hill.

Smith has been in Congress since 1987, and he still has about a year left in his term- which he plans to serve out. Thursday afternoon the Republican from San Antonio said he felt the time was right to make this announcement.

He is currently chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee. That's a position he has to give up because of House term limit rules.

During a tele- conference Thursday, he told FOX7 if he could keep the chairmanship he would stay. But with another grandchild on the way he decided now was the time to start wrapping up his time in DC the congressman denied he is leaving because of the current political climate

"I’m deciding not to seek reelection not because of anything perceived about the (political) environment or views of congress, it’s just a good time. Those confluence of the events I just mentioned, the Chairmanship and family considerations lead Beth and me last weekend to make a final decision and then decided to announce today."

Smith also said he plans to stay engaged in politics which raised questions about what he has in mind.

"I've got 14 months to figure that out. I have not made any overtures towards anyone I have not made any decision about what course of action to take in the future, I do know I’m not going to go to 100% retirement and I do know I’m going to looking to be engaged in the political arena in one form or another, although I don’t know what form that might exactly be."

Congressman Smith made no endorsement of any potential successor only to say he believes it will be a Republican. As for his legacy - Smith said he is proud of being part of the last balanced budget passed on Capitol Hill, and for legislation like the 1996 Immigration Reform Act.

He has been praised for having a low key leadership style but also has been criticized for expressing doubts about man-made climate change.

Smith is the second Congressman from Texas to announce retirement. Earlier this week Rep. Jeb Hensarling ( R ) Stephenville said he would not seek another term. He is chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, and is also prevented by Rules to keep that position. Hensarling released the following statement Thursday about Smith.

“Throughout his career, he has continuously led with a calm demeanor but always worked efficiently to get the job done. Lamar has been a giant in Texas who is respected by all for his honor and integrity.”

Like Smith, Hensarling says he will serve out his term.

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