WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, is retiring from Congress, two sources close to the congressman told The Texas Tribune on Thursday.
"For several reasons, this seems like a good time to pass on the privilege of representing the 21st District to someone else," he wrote in an email obtained by the Tribune. "... With over a year remaining in my term, there is still much to do. There is legislation to enact, dozens of hearings to hold and hundreds of votes to cast."
Smith was elected to Congress in 1987 and represents a district that spans Austin, San Antonio and the Texas Hill Country. He is the current chairman of the U.S. House Science, Space and Technology Committee.
The news was not entirely surprising. Smith's name has repeatedly surfaced as a member of Congress with the potential to retire.
But there was one argument for why he should stay. Smith is a deft legislator and had positioned himself to possibly succeed another Texan, U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, as chairman of the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee.
Smith earned many detractors for his skepticism of manmade climate change. Even so, liberal Democrats privately described him as a pragmatic chairman and colleague who would listen to their arguments.
Smith, a San Antonio native, received his undergraduate degree from Yale and attended law school at Southern Methodist University.
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2017/11/02/lamar-smith-retiring-congress/.
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