New House Judiciary Chairman to Obama: Prepare for Investigations
Veteran Congressman will head influential House Judiciary Committee
By Jim Forsyth
Thursday, November 4, 2010
The San Antonio Congressman who is in line to become chairman of the powerful House Judiciary Committee is promising 'a number of investigations and oversight committee actions' which he vows will 'hold the administration accountable,’ 1200 WOAI news reports.
Veteran Republican Lamar Smith, a Yale graduate and social conservative who grew up in the brush country of south Texas which is now transit point for illegal immigrants and drugs, said in a news conference that a number of issues will come into the sights of his committee when he takes the chairmanship in January, from cracking down on child pornography to taking the Obama Administration to task for failing to do enough to protect the southern border.
Smith says it is his Constitutional duty.
"Part of that checks and balances is in fact holding the administration accountable, is in fact insisting on more transparency, is insisting on more honesty, and getting the facts," Smith said. "Right now, because of the one party monopoly, the Administration has been able to dodge any kind of supervision, any kind of oversight committee action, and they refuse to testify, and that is no longer acceptable."
Smith, 63, says he says he has spoken to Speaker-designate John Boehner and has been told that he will move to the chairmanship of the committee. He has been ranking Republican on the committee for four years, and also headed the House Ethics Committee during the previous Republican majority.
Smith repeatedly attacked what he called the 'one party control' which has allowed the Administration and majority Democrats to ramrod their position on key issues like health care and border security through Congress.
"Right now, we've had one party control all aspects of our government, and the result of that is that the American people have only gotten one side of a lot of issues," he said.
One thing that Democrats openly expressed their concern about is the ability of Republicans like Smith, chairmen of key House committees, to use the Majority's subpoena power to compel testimony on a whole host of issues. Smith says their concerns were justified.
"There are going to be a number of investigations or oversight committee actions, trying to get to the facts," he promised.
Smith cited national security and the threat of terrorism will be a key area that the Judiciary Committee plans to take action quickly, and said border security, an issue always close to Smith's heart, will also take top billing.
"We need to have better national security and border security. We need to know who is coming across the border, why they are coming across illegally. We need to reduce the huge amount of drug smuggling and immigrant smuggling."
Smith said that reform of the 14th Amendment, which grants automatic citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants who are born in the U.S., is also an issue his committee may take up under his chairmanship. The 14th Amendment is a hot button issue for conservatives who call for restricting immigration.
He said adding 'meaningful' lawsuit reform will also be a top priority.
"I think we are going to be able to reform and amend the health care bill," he said. "We are not going to be able to repeal it, because the president would veto any repeal. But we can go back and make some changes and improvements. We need to reduce health care costs, and we need medical liability reform, and make sure we can stop the number of frivolous lawsuits."
Smith promised to 'use subpoena power if necessary' to 'call on Administration officials to get to the truth and get to the facts.'