Lamar Smith

Now at the Capitol: Executive Branches
Retiring Texas Republican Lamar Smith plants elm with former president’s grandson

President George H.W. Bush's grandson Sam LeBlond, left, plants a tree with Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas. (Courtesy of Smith’s office)

Correction 11:15 a.m. Oct. 1| As Lamar Smith prepares to leave Congress, he planted a tree that will grow up to 180 feet tall on the Capitol grounds. The Scotch elm honors a fellow Texas Republican, former President George H.W. Bush.

“This was a very, very happy memory and one of, I guess, my last initiatives,” he said. “It’s special, and it’s not really partisan and political.”

Facebook, Twitter Testify: Here Are the Lawmakers Who Own Their Stock
Members of Congress have invested more than $7M in three tech giants

Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins is the only senator who will question representatives from Facebook and Twitter who also holds stock in one of the companies. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate will question representatives of tech giants Twitter and Facebook on Wednesday. The chamber’s Intelligence Committee also invited Alphabet CEO Larry Page but rejected the company’s counteroffer to send Google’s chief legal officer.

Roll Call found 32 members of Congress have stock ownership in the three companies. These stocks are held in trust funds, IRAs and brokerage accounts for the members, their spouses or their dependent children. In total, members of Congress have invested more than $7,000,000 in the three tech companies subject to scrutiny in Wednesday’s hearings.

Lawmakers Renew Efforts to Pass Family Separation Bill
But with House already out for recess, no legislative solution possible until September

A girl participates in a rally at Freedom Plaza in downtown Washington on June 27 to to protest the Trump administration policy that separated migrant children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Lawmakers say they are renewing efforts to find what has been elusive legislation to keep families together at the U.S.-Mexico border, as the Trump administration announced it would meet the latest court deadline for reuniting more than 1,400 children it had separated from their immigrant parents.

Department of Homeland Security officials said they expected to complete all “eligible” reunifications by midnight Thursday, Pacific time. Beyond those, 711 children remain in custody because they’re not “eligible” for reunification, according to the department. Of those, 431 have a parent who was deported from the U.S. without them, officials said.

Photos of the Week: House Recess Begins — But See You Monday, Senate
The week of July 23 as captured by Roll Call’s photographers

Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., speaks at the Summer Intern Lecture Series in the Capitol Visitor Center auditorium on Wednesday. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

The House has dashed out of town for its annual five-week summer recess, with plenty of work left on the table for when members return Sept. 4.

Of course, the Senate plans to be in session for four out of the five coming weeks thanks to a plan from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to chip away at backlogged legislative and executive business (with the side benefit of preventing Senate Democrats in tough races from going home to campaign.)

Shelby: Appropriations’ First-Ever Female Staff Director Is ‘Tough, Absolutely’
Shannon Hines says she hasn’t had much time to think about her breakthrough role

Shannon Hines, left, and Sen. Richard C. Shelby at the June 28 full committee markup. (Courtesy of the Appropriations Committee)

For the first time ever, a female staff director has the reins of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee.

Shannon Hines took the job after her longtime boss, Sen. Richard C. Shelby, became chairman in April.

The President’s Mission to Mars Is a Real Long Shot
Trump really wants to go to Mars, but he’ll have to convince Congress, private companies and scores of scientists

President Donald Trump receives a flight jacket from NASA officials during a bill signing ceremony last year. (Alex Wong/Getty Images file photo)

For a man known for grandiose ambitions, perhaps President Donald Trump’s most lofty is his pledge, formalized in a December order, to land a human being on the surface of Mars.

It would be easy to doubt Trump’s seriousness, given that he’s equally known for inconsistent follow-through. But Trump has raised the idea repeatedly since that order, most recently last month before the National Space Council, the advisory group Trump revived last year and tasked Vice President Mike Pence with running.

Q&A: NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine
‘What we don’t know about the moon is critical’ and could change ‘the balance of power on Earth’

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine is interviewed for the “CQ on Congress” podcast on June 28. (Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate confirmed Jim Bridenstine to lead NASA in April after months of delay related to Democrats’ concerns about his commitment to the agency’s climate research and Republican infighting over its resources.

During two terms in the House, and the start of a third, Bridenstine was a space enthusiast. He served on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee and drafted an ambitious bill to overhaul the way the government manages its space resources.

Democrats Get Preferred Candidates in House Races in Texas
GOP sees mixed fortunes for establishment candidates in runoffs

Air Force veteran Gina Ortiz Jones won the Democratic nomination for Texas’ 23rd District. (Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call file photo)

General election matchups in Texas were set following Tuesday’s runoffs, including a few expected to be competitive in the fall. 

Democrats saw new opportunities in the Lone Star state after Hillary Clinton carried three Republican-held seats in 2016. Each of those races on the Democratic side went to a runoff after no one took more than 50 percent of the vote in the March 6 primary. A slew of Republican retirements sparked crowded GOP primaries, which led to runoffs in five open seats. The winners of most of these contests are likely to come to Congress from the Republican-leaning districts.

Rating Changes in 19 House Races, All Toward Democrats
In total, 68 GOP-held seats are now rated competitive

New Mexico Democrat Xochitl Torres Small is running for the seat GOP Rep. Steve Pearce is vacating to run for governor. The 2nd District race is now rated Leans Republican. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Despite forecasts of a blue tsunami, it’s still not guaranteed that Democrats will win back the House majority. But the playing field of competitive House races is expanding and shifting to almost exclusively Republican territory.

After the latest round of changes, Inside Elections now has 68 Republican seats rated as vulnerable compared to just 10 vulnerable Democratic seats. And there are at least a couple dozen more GOP-held seats that could develop into competitive races in the months ahead.

Take Five: Jamie Raskin
Law professor-turned-congressman likes to take an academic approach to problems Congress confronts

Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., was Virgin Islands Del. Stacey Plaskett’s law professor. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Maryland Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin, 55,  talks about the heart of the legislative process, what his colleagues call him, and how he angered a world chess champion.

Q: What about Congress didn’t you expect?