Christopher Smith

Christopher Smith

NEW JERSEY's 4th DISTRICT

Monmouth County Fire Company Awarded $74K FEMA Grant

2015/07/02

FREEHOLD, N.J. - Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04) announced today that the Borough of Avon-By-the-Sea has received an Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) award for over $74,000 to purchase critically-needed self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA).

"This important FEMA grant will help protect firefighters in harm’s way,” said Smith, a long-time member of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus. “Firefighters require equipment in good working order to survive in smoke-filled environments. Avon-By-the-Sea Fire Company is an all-volunteer company and its members need this funding to safely do their jobs—protecting the lives, homes and businesses of the people they serve. The equipment they use currently is nearly out of date, so this grant will help keep them safe for years.”

The funds will be used to replace low-pressure SCBA gear including new face pieces and high-pressure bottles. The new equipment will replace older sets that are out of compliance and unreliable.

The award, for $74,286, comes through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Assistance to Firefighters Grants Operations and Safety Grant Program. It is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in cooperation with the U.S. Fire Administration. The purpose of AFG is to award grants directly to fire departments and non-affiliated Emergency Medical Services organizations (EMS) to protect both the health and safety of the public, and first-responder personnel as well. A competitive process overseen by fire service subject matter experts awards grants to applicants whose requests are aligned with the priorities of the AFG Program. For more about the FY 2014 AFG Program please visit http://www.fema.gov/assistance-firefighters-grant.

This is round eight of the competitive FY 2014 fire grant announcements. Smith, a member of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus, voted to create the equipment grant program in 2000. Congress created the program to upgrade capabilities of local firefighters to respond to fires and fire-related hazards, such as vehicular accidents.

Congressman Smith, who represents New Jersey’s Fourth Congressional District in the House of Representatives, has offices in Mercer, Monmouth, and Ocean Counties. The Monmouth County office is located at 112 Village Center Drive, Raintree Town Center, 2nd floor. The phone number is (732) 780-3035.


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<span class ="kicker">Smith Floor Statement on Iran Nuclear Talks</span>'An Agreement with Iran Must Bar Its Path to Nuclear Weapons'

2015/06/26

Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04), a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, took to the House floor last night to voice his concerns about Iran's aspirations to acquire nuclear capability and its widespread human rights violations:

Mr. Speaker, the deadline is bearing down on us for the President’s nuclear agreement with Iran–so at this moment Congress must send the administration a strong message: in order to be acceptable, any agreement must bar every Iranian path to nuclear weapons.

    This means the deal must last for decades – there has been a lot of reporting on stopgap deals that would try to restrict Iran in the short term, while giving it a blank check after ten years. Such an arrangement would be absurd. Given Iran’s long-standing nefarious quest for nuclear weapons and its government’s genocidal anti-Semitism, I and the vast majority of my colleagues in Congress would never accept it. [click here to read a pdf of this statement]

    Iran will also have to dismantle its current nuclear infrastructure and turn over nearly all of its stockpile of uranium. Iran prefers to merely “disconnect” its 19,000 centrifuges. That is totally unacceptable – coming from the Iranian government, with its murderous threats to annihilate the state of Israel and its obsessive hatred of Jews worldwide. It’s estimated that the centrifuges could be reconnected in mere months – and so they must be dismantled, and the core should be removed from the Arak heavy-water reactor.

    It also means the that there can be no lifting or reduction of sanctions until the International Atomic Energy Agency certifies that Iran has complied with its commitments under the agreement. And IAEA inspectors must be granted access to any and all suspected sites. This access must be unimpeded – meaning IAEA must be able to conduct inspections at military sites as well. The rule must be full access “anytime, anywhere.”

    Iran must also fully account for its past efforts to develop nuclear weapons. Unless it does so, there will be no way to establish a baseline from which to measure its current capacities and potential future violations, and responsibly gauge a “breakout time.”

    Mr. Speaker, these are minimum criteria. In order to get Congressional approval, any deal the President presents to Congress will have to meet them. The Nuclear Agreement Review Act gives Congress the authority to review any agreement with Iran and to pass a joint resolution barring any statutory sanctions relief. The administration and the Iranian government need to know that the vast majority of my colleagues will be as firm as I am in insisting on them. I am certainly prepared to vote against any agreement that does not meet these criteria.

    Mr. Speaker, the administration has shown itself far too weak in its dealings with Iran. For example, last week Secretary Kerry said that the U.S. is “not fixated” on Iran’s explaining its past behavior – a significant backtracking on his earlier insistence on this crucial point.

    In fact, throughout June we have been reading disturbing reports of administration weakness in the negotiations – on a whole range of issues, from demanding access to potential nuclear sites, to signaling a willingness to repeal non-nuclear-related sanctions. Just yesterday, five of the President’s top former Iran advisors wrote an open letter warning that the agreement “may fall short of meeting the administration’s own standard of a ‘good’ agreement.” The letter outlined concerns about concessions at the same time that Ayatollah Ali Khamenie appeared to back away from other preliminary understandings.

    There are many other signs of the administration’s weakness in its dealings with Iran. Fundamentally, it refuses to speak truths that are obvious to everyone – that the Iranian government has made itself the enemy of the U.S., and the genocidal enemy of Israel, and that our goal must always be to prevent it from acquiring or manufacturing nuclear weapons, now and long into the future. A nuclear Iran would be a grave threat to our country, and an existential threat to Israel, our closest ally. That is intolerable. The administration seems to no longer recall that Iran is the leading sponsor of Hezbollah and Hamas.

    Mr. Speaker, the case of Pastor Abedini is another sad sign of administration weakness toward Iran. Saeed Abedini is an American citizen. He was in Iran in 2012, visiting family and building an orphanage, when was he was taken prisoner. Twelve years before, he had converted to Christianity and later was involved in the home church movement in Iran. Knowing about his conversion and earlier engagement with home churches, Iranian authorities approved his 2012 trip, approved his orphanage-building, and then imprisoned him. He has been in prison ever since then, and has suffered immensely, from beatings that have caused internal bleeding, death threats, solitary confinement, and more. His wife Naghmeh, who is also an American and has been a heroic champion for her husband, and their two young children, have also suffered. I and many other Members of Congress have been advocating on his behalf.

    The administration is not doing enough to secure his release. The Administration does little more than raise his case, and those of the other American prisoners, on the sidelines of the nuclear negotiations because it sees the prisoners as sideline issues. This is an American citizen - unjustly imprisoned for now over 1,000 days – and tortured – in Iran. And the administration has a few marginal conversations with Iranian officials and considers that good enough. It is deeply disturbing.

      Mr. Speaker, it is also a very alarming sign of what we might expect the administration to present us with when we return to session in early July. That is why it is Congress’s responsibility to be prepared to maintain a much firmer line on the outcome of these negotiations – when we review the agreement – than the administration seems to be taking.

    Mr. Speaker, I’d also like to add to the record a summary of the human rights violations documented in the State Department’s most recent human rights report on Iran. Again and again we have seen what seems to be almost a law of international relations: massive human rights violators behave deceitfully and aggressively, and the more massive the violations, the greater the deceit and aggression.

    Excerpt from “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, Iran, 2013.”

    “The most egregious human rights problems were the government’s manipulation of the electoral process, which severely limited citizens’ right to change their government peacefully through free and fair elections; restrictions on civil liberties, including the freedoms of assembly, speech, and press; and disregard for the physical integrity of persons whom it arbitrarily and unlawfully detained, tortured, or killed.

    Other reported human rights problems included: disappearances; cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, including judicially sanctioned amputation and flogging; politically motivated violence and repression, such as beatings and rape; harsh and life-threatening conditions in detention and prison facilities, with instances of deaths in custody; arbitrary arrest and lengthy pretrial detention, sometimes incommunicado; continued impunity of security forces; denial of fair public trials, sometimes resulting in executions without due process; the lack of an independent judiciary; political prisoners and detainees; ineffective implementation of civil judicial procedures and remedies; arbitrary interference with privacy, family, home, and correspondence; severe restrictions on freedoms of speech (including via the internet) and press; harassment of journalists; censorship and media content restrictions; severe restrictions on academic freedom; severe restrictions on the freedoms of assembly, association, and religion …”

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FEMA: Deadline for Superstorm Sandy Victims to Re-Open NFIP Claims Sept. 15

2015/06/25

Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04) released the following statement regarding the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) advisory issued today regarding the ongoing Sandy Claims Review Process for National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policyholders: 

 

    “This process is open to all Sandy victims who may have received an underpayment on their flood claim, whether due to fraud or any other reason. Thousands have already qualified for a review, and recommendations are being made,” said Smith, whose district in Ocean and Monmouth Counties was hit hard by Sandy. “The administration has clearly failed Sandy victims, who never should have been placed in this position to begin with. While we are all—especially and including New Jersey policyholders—understandably hesitant to trust FEMA again, we have been assured that Sandy victims will receive the fair and equitable treatment they were previously denied and I am committed to ensuring that FEMA delivers on these promises.”

 

     Click here to read FEMA’s June 25 congressional advisory on the claims review process.

 

     NFIP policyholders have until September 15, 2015 to re-open their Sandy-related claim—even if they did not receive a letter—and may do so by phone, email, fax, or regular mail. Please click here for more detailed information on the process.

 

     “I encourage anyone seeking assistance to contact me or one of the many advocacy groups working tirelessly on behalf of wronged policyholders,” continued Smith. “The resolution of underpayments to Sandy victims is a critical first step towards meaningful reform of the NFIP, and I will be closely monitoring its progress.”

 

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<span class="kicker">Smith bill taken up at hearing</span>Lifesaving Adult Stem Cell Research & Cures Focus of Capitol Hill Hearing

2015/06/25

A House panel responsible for advancing and monitoring the nation’s health care and research laws today examined new bipartisan legislation supporting treatment and therapies derived from adult stem cell lines.  

Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04), author of the Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Reauthorization Act of 2015 ( HR 2820), said he was encouraged that the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health moved quickly to include the legislation in their hearing entitled: "Examining Public Health Legislation: H.R. 2820, H.R. 1344, and H.R. 1462." Smith and Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA) introduced the bill only last week with a bipartisan group of lawmakers.

    “This important bipartisan legislation will save more lives," said Smith who also authored the first law (The Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act of 2005—P.L. 109-129) creating the National Cord Blood Inventory (NCBI) program and continuing the C.W. Bill Young Cell Transplantation program. "The adult stem cells found in bone marrow and cord blood provide hope not only for curing the diseases and conditions currently known, but they also set the stage for even more cures in the future.”

    The witnesses included experts on the programs for bone marrow and cord blood transplantation, and their testimony underscored the measurable success of these lifesaving programs.

    Dr. Joanne Kurtzberg, professor at Duke University and director of the Carolina Cord Blood Bank testified about the successes of the National Cord Blood Inventory (NCBI) program in providing unrelated cord blood donations to treat diseases like Sickle Cell Anemia.

    Kurtzberg also spoke of the potential for future use of cord blood cellular therapies in treating brain injuries saying: “Over the past six years, we have initiated trials of autologous (the patient’s own) cord blood in babies with birth asphyxia … cerebral palsy, hearing loss, and autism.”

    Dr. Jeff Chell, CEO of National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) told the story of Brandy Bly, a child whose family could not find a matched donor for her in the 1980s and she tragically died. It was Brandy’s case that prompted the creation of a national bone marrow registry, which was later expanded by Smith’s 2005 law to include cord blood as well. The new reauthorization will keep the program going for future patients.

    “Today we are able to treat patients with cancers and pre-cancers, such as leukemia, Myelodysplasia, and lymphomas; bone marrow failure disorders, such as aplastic anemia and immunodeficiency syndrome; and genetic diseases, such as sickle cell disease,” Chell said in his testimony.

    “Cord blood and bone marrow adult stem cells have an applicability and potential that is proven and invaluable—promising life-saving cures for multiple diseases. The program must be extended and I look forward to this bill advancing quickly through the legislative process and being signed into law,” Smith said.

    The reauthorization is supported by the National Marrow Donor Program and Cord Blood Association.

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Smith Holds Hearing on China’s Influence on U.S. Universities

2015/06/25

 

Congressman Chris Smith (NJ- 04) today chaired a hearing entitled “Is Academic Freedom Threatened by China’s Influence on U.S. Universities?” before the House global human rights subcommittee.

 

 Smith, who also chairs the U.S. Commission on China, gave the following opening statement:

 

"I want to welcome everyone here today.  This hearing is the second in a series probing the question of whether maintaining access to China’s lucrative education market undermines the very values that make American universities great, including academic freedom.

 

"The hearing is timely for three reasons:

 

  1. The growing number of 'satellite' or 'branch' campuses started by U.S. universities in China;

  2. The record numbers of Chinese students (275,000) enrolling in U.S. universities and colleges in China each year, bringing with them nearly ten million dollars a year in tuition and other spending; and

  3. The recent efforts by the Communist Party of China to regain ideological control over universities and academic research.

 

"Official Chinese government decrees prohibit teaching and research in seven areas—the  so-called 'seven taboos:'

 

  • universal values;

  • press freedom;

  • civil society;

  • citizens' rights;

  • criticism of the Party’s past;

  • neoliberal economics; and

  • independence of the judiciary.

 

"All of the 'seven taboos' are criticized as 'Western ideals.'

 

"Which begs the question: Are U.S. colleges and universities compromising their images as bastions of free inquiry and academic freedom in exchange China’s education dollars?    

 

"Some may defend any concessions made as the cost of doing business in an authoritarian state such as China.  

 

"Maybe a university decides that it won’t offer a class on human rights in China, maybe they won’t invite a prominent dissident as a fellow or visiting lecturer, maybe they won’t protest when a professor is denied a visa because of his or her work is critical of a dictator.  Maybe such compromises are rationalized as necessary to not offend a major donor or for the “greater good” of maintaining access.

 

"If U.S. universities are only offering Chinese students and faculty a different name on their diploma or paycheck, is it worth the costs and compromises?      

 

"Perry Link, the eminent China scholar, argued during our last hearing, that the slow drip of self-censorship is the most pernicious threat to academic freedom and undermines both the recognized brands of a major universities and their credibility.

   

"Self-censorship may be the reason NYU terminated the fellowship of world class human rights activist and hero, Chen Guangcheng.  As the NYU faculty said in their letter to the Board of Trustees, the circumstances surrounding the launch of NYU satellite campus in Shanghai and the ending of Chen’s residence created a 'public perception, accurate or otherwise, that NYU made commitments in order to operate in China.'   Did NYU Make any such commitments?

 

"Let the record show that we have invited NYU’s President and faculty sixteen times to testify before this committee, without success.  We are very pleased that Jeffery Lehman, the Vice-Chancellor of NYU-Shanghai campus, is here today.   

 

"On a personal note, I spent time with Chen when he first came to the United States.  Though NYU offered him important sanctuary, he was treated very rudely at times, particularly when it was clear that he would not isolate himself on campus.  NYU officials and others worked to cordon off access to Chen and to keep him away from Chinese dissidents and there was a belief, reported by Reuters and the Wall Street Journal, that Chen was too involved with anti-abortion activists, Republicans, and others.      

 

"We may never know if NYU experienced 'persistent and direct pressure from China' to oust Chen from his NYU fellowship or whether they sought to isolate him in order to keep Chen’s story out of the 2012 Presidential elections as Prof. Jerry Cohen has said in an interview at the time.  Certainly there is some interest here as Hillary Clinton spent a whole chapter in her book detailing the events of Chen’s escape and exile in the United States.

 

"Or maybe there wasn’t any pressure at all, just self-censorship to keep in Beijing’s good graces during the final stages of opening the NYU-Shanghai campus.   

 

"We are not here to exclusively focus on the sad divorce of Chen Guangcheng and NYU.  But his ousting begs the question: Is it possible to accept lucrative subsidies from the Chinese government, or other dictatorships for that matter, operate campuses on their territory and still preserve academic freedom and the other values that make American’s great?

 

"I’m sure those here today will say that they can—and reference an oral assurance they received from the government or an agreement they signed—which is often kept secret—with the host government.  The real answer is much more murky.   

___________________________________________

 

"Foreign educational partnerships are important endeavors—for students, collaborative research, cultural understanding, and maybe even for the host country in some sense.  The U.S. model of higher education is the world’s best.  American faculty, fellowships, and exchange programs are effective global ambassadors.  We must all seek to maintain that integrity.  It is in the interests of the U.S. to do so, particularly when it comes to China.     

 

"Nevertheless, if U.S. colleges and universities are outsourcing academic control, faculty and student oversight, or curriculum to a foreign government can they really be “islands of freedom” in the midst of authoritarian states or dictatorships?   Are they places where all students and faculty can enjoy the fundamental freedoms denied them in their own country?   

_______________________________________________

 

"The questions we ask today are not abstract.  The Chinese government and Communist Party are waging a persistent, intense and escalating campaign to suppress dissent, purge rivals from within the Party, and regain ideological control over the arts, media, and the universities. 

 

"This campaign is broader and more extensive than any other in the past twenty years.  Targets include human rights defenders, the press, social media and the Internet, civil rights lawyers, Tibetans and Uyghurs, religious groups, NGOs, intellectuals and their students, and government officials, particularly those allied with former Chinese leader Jiang Zemin. 

 

"Chinese universities have been targeted as well, the recently issued Communist Party directive 'Document 30,' reinforces earlier warnings to purge 'Western-inspired notions of media independence, human rights, and criticism of Mao [Zedong].  

 

"In a recent speech reported by the New York Times, President Xi urged university leaders to 'keep a tight grip on…ideological work in higher education…never allow singing to a tune contrary to the party center, never allowing eating the Communist Party’s food and then smashing the Communist Party’s cooking pots.'

 

"Will anyone at NYU or Ft. Hays St or John Hopkins or Duke for that matter—be allowed to smash any cooking pots?  

 

"It’s a serious question, because if your campuses are subsidized by the Chinese government, if your joint-educational partnerships are 'majority-owned' by the Chinese government, aren’t you eating the Communist Party’s food and then subject to its rules, just like any Chinese university? 

 

"There are nine U.S. educational partnerships operating in China. New York University (NYU) Shanghai opened its doors to students in September 2013. Three other similar ventures have started since 2013: a Duke University campus in Kunshan, Jiangsu Province; a University of California-Berkeley School of Engineering research facility in the Pudong District of Shanghai; and a Kean University campus in Wenzhou in Zhejiang Province. In addition, since 2006, Fort Hays State University in Kansas, has partnered with Zhengzhou University/SIAS International School, a U.S.-based educational non-governmental organization, to provide degrees for thousands of Chinese students.

 

"China’s National Plan for Medium and Long-term Education Reform and Development (2010-2020), issued in July 2010, provided Chinese partners with a strong incentive to enter into such ventures. The plan exhorted Chinese universities to become “world-class,” in part by establishing “international academic cooperation organizations” and setting up research and development bases with 'high quality educational and scientific research institutions from overseas.' Among the attractions for U.S. universities entering into such ventures are generous funding from the Chinese government, typically covering all campus construction costs and some or all operating costs; revenue from full fee-paying Chinese students on China-based campuses, who may later become wealthy alumni donors; the potential for a higher profile in China translating into the recruitment of more full fee-paying Chinese students to home campuses in the United States; opportunities for new global research collaborations with Chinese scholars and universities; and, opportunities for American students to study abroad.

__________________________________________________

 

"I have also initiated a GAO study to review the agreements of both satellite campuses in China and of Confucius Institutes in the U.S.  I know some agreements are public others are not.  In fact, some schools made their agreements public after our last hearing.  We are looking for complete transparency and will be asking all universities and colleges to make their agreements with the Chinese government public.     

 

"We need to know if universities and college who are starting satellite programs in China—can be islands of freedom in China or in other parts of the world.   We need to know what pressures are being placed on them to compromise fundamental freedoms, and what compromises, if any, were made to gain a small slice of the China educational market.  

 

"These are important questions.  Can they be handled by the universities, their faculties, and trustees themselves or if there is something the U.S. Congress and or State Department can do to ensure academic freedom, and other fundamental freedoms are protected.  

_____________________________________________________

 

"I look forward to hearing from our distinguished witnesses today... ."        

 

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Cong. Smith, Sen. Klobuchar Introduce Bill to Reauthorize the Torture Victims Relief Act

2015/06/25

As International Day in Support of Victims of Torture approaches on Friday, June 26th, U.S. Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)  today reintroduced the bipartisan Torture Victims Relief Act (TVRA). TVRA, first passed in 1998, authorized funding to support torture treatment programs in the U.S. and abroad to help torture survivors recover from their trauma and rebuild productive lives. H.R. 2870 and S. 1670 will ensure assistance for domestic and foreign programs and centers for the treatment of victims of torture.

     “We too often focus on the public and legal aspects of torture and not enough on helping torture victims themselves—a group that tragically includes even children. They need help to rebuild their lives and overcome the severe trauma that prevents them from living a normal life,” said Smith, author of the Torture Victims Relief Act of 1998 that was enacted into law.  “If we accept people into this country as refugees or asylum seekers, then we also must help them deal with the effects of the treatment that drove them from their homelands in the first place.  Our legislation will do just that.”
 
    Said Sen. Klobuchar, “The United States must play a leading role in helping those who have been harmed by torture. Our commonsense bill will provide crucial support to help heal victims and train partner organizations who care for them."

    The Torture Victim Protection Act of 1991 defined torture as any act, directed against an individual in the offender’s custody or physical control, by which severe pain or suffering either physical or mental is  intentionally inflicted to obtain information or a confession or intimidating or coercing the victim for any reason based on discrimination. Unintended pain or injury that is part of a legitimate arrest or detention is not considered to be torture.  

     H.R. 2870 and S. 1670 calls on the Department of Health and Human Services to fund and manage treatment at domestic centers to treat torture victims who seek refuge in the United States.  This legislation also directs the President to fund and manage foreign treatment centers for victims of torture within their home countries and authorizes instruction for Foreign Service officers to be trained on how best to identify and assist victims of torture. 

     Actions that would be defined as torture are reported in 141 countries even though 157 countries have ratified the 1984 United Nations Convention Against Torture. However, as we have seen in recent years, torture is not only practiced by governments around the world, but increasingly by terrorist groups such as the Islamic State.

    The international community condemned the practice of torture and other cruel and inhuman treatment in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948.  However, treatment for victims of torture has remained a concern, and the United States has a history of assisting such victims. Such programs were first established in Smith’s 1998 law, and bolstered by Smith’s three subsequent torture victims reauthorization laws (P.L. 106-87, P.L. 108-179, and P.L. 109-65). The original 1998 bill acknowledged a significant number of refugees and asylum seekers who were entering the United States as victims of torture, and sought to address their needs.

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China’s Growing Influence on U.S. Universities Topic of June 25 House Hearing

2015/06/24

A hearing entitled “Is Academic Freedom Threatened by China's Influence on U.S. Universities?” will be held June 25 by U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04), chairman of the global human rights subcommittee in the House of Representatives and Chairman of the U.S. Commission on China.

 

The Chinese educational market is a lucrative one, but we have to ask if there are any hidden costs for American schools and colleges seeking access to that market,” said Smith, who chairs the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations. “By rushing to build campuses in China and signing agreements to have Chinese government entities on American campuses, are universities and schools accepting restrictions on foundational principles of American higher education?The American university model is the world’s best and they should be ambassadors for freedom and democracy globally.Our universities should also be islands of freedom where foreign students can enjoy the fundamental freedoms denied them in their own country. This hearing will detail some of the costs and benefits of such educational partnerships and offer recommendations on how such partnerships can protect academic freedom and the fundamental human rights of faculty and students.”

 

 

Who: Rep. Smith, longtime advocate of human rights in China, other invited members of Congress, and:

 

· Susan V. Lawrence, Specialist in Asian Affairs, Congressional Research Service

 

· Jeffrey S. Lehman, Vice Chancellor, New York University-Shanghai

 

· Mirta M. Martin, Ph.D., President of Fort Hays State University, Kansas

 

When: Thursday, June 25 @ 2 p.m.

 

What: Congressional hearing on academic freedom and China's Influence on U.S. Universities

 

Where: Room 2172 Rayburn House Office Building

 

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Smith Named VFW Legislator of Year

2015/06/23

The New Jersey State Veterans of Foreign Wars has named Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04), former chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, its 2015 Legislator of the Year.

 

            VFW State Legislative Director William F. Thomson presented Smith with the award Monday in Hamilton, Mercer County. VFW State Commander Jack Kane announced the honor on June 19 at the VFW's annual convention in Wildwoods Convention Center in Wildwood, N.J.

 

The men and women in uniform make tremendous, selfless sacrifices for our nation, and they must know that when they come home they will received the care and assistance they earned,” said Smith, who chaired the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee from 2001-2005 and authored more than a dozen veterans’ laws. “It is an honor for me to accept this award, but it is more of an honor to work for our veterans.”

 

The award read: “Congressman Chris Smith: 2015 Legislator of the Year. In recognition of your years of service and your outstanding support of America’s military service personnel and veterans. As a champion of veterans issues, ensuring that service members receive the necessary support and resources upon completing their service: you have continuously lead the challenge to keep America’s promise to our veterans.”

 

Congressman Smith has been there for veterans for many years,” Thomson said. “He could receive this award every year.”

 

Smith is currently working on a homeless veterans bill to follow up his law Homeless Veterans Comprehensive Assistance Act. The bill is expected to be introduced this summer.

 

Smith was also an original cosponsor of the 2015 ‘‘Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act,” named in honor of the late Iraq and Afghanistan War veteran and suicide prevention advocate, Clay Hunt. It was passed by Congress and enacted into law earlier this year. The law, H.R. 203 seeks to quell this growing epidemic by increasing access to mental health care, requiring the VA to create a one-stop, interactive website to serve as a centralized source of information regarding all VA mental health services for veterans. The law also requires evaluations of all mental health care and suicide prevention practices and programs at the VA to find out what’s working and what’s not working and make recommendations to improve care, and creates a peer support and community outreach pilot program to assist transitioning servicemembers with accessing VA mental health care services.

 

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Representatives Smith and Matsui introduce bipartisan bill to continue to fund lifesaving adult stem cell program

2015/06/19

A bipartisan group of lawmakers, led by Reps. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Doris Matsui (D-CA), introduced legislation this week to reauthorize the nation’s adult stem cell treatment and research programs and it is already scheduled for a hearing next week.

In a joint statement Smith, Matsui and lead cosponsors David Jolly (R-FL) and Chaka Fattah (D-PA), underscored the need for the legislation and expressed confidence that the bill would move quickly in both the House and Senate and be signed by the President.

H.R. 2820, The Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Reauthorization Act of 2015, reauthorizes key programs responsible for recruiting bone marrow, adult stem cell, and cord blood donations, matching donors and recipients, and linking patients to care. The Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on this legislation next Thursday, June 25, 2015, at 10:15 a.m. The hearing will be webcast here.

“This important bipartisan legislation will save more lives," said Representative Chris Smith the author of the original law, The Stem Cell Therapeutic Research and Reauthorization Act of 2005. "The adult stem cells found in bone marrow and cord blood provide hope not only for curing the diseases and conditions currently known, but they also set the stage for even more cures in the future. Their applicability and use in research for cures for multiple diseases is invaluable--truly a vital life-saving program,”

“This legislation is critical to delivering cures to those diagnosed with a blood cancer or other bone marrow disorders,” said Representative Matsui. “Every 4 minutes someone is diagnosed with one of these fatal diseases. The only cure is a bone marrow or cord blood transplant. Unfortunately, 70 percent of patients diagnosed do not have a suitable donor in their family and must rely upon the national bone marrow and cord blood registry that this bill reauthorizes.”

“Every day, the C.W. Bill Young Cell Transplantation Program and the National Cord Blood Inventory brings lifesaving hope to patients and families in every corner of our nation and around the world,” Representative Jolly said. “Their reauthorization is a top priority of the Congressional Caucus to Cure Blood Cancers and other Blood Disorders, which I co-chair with Congresswoman Matsui, and I’m pleased to join my fellow members in the U.S. House of Representatives in introducing H.R. 2820 to continue these proven programs.”

“Evolving research shows us that bone marrow and cord blood transplants continue to be effective treatments for a number of diseases and disorders, but in order for this to be truly successful, we must ensure that access to the national registry is expanded and there are readily available donor databases for those patients in need. This legislation is critical to ensuring these steps happen and will ultimately save lives as a result,”
Representative Fattah said. “This issue has been a longstanding priority for me, and I am pleased to introduce this bipartisan bill with my colleagues.”

H.R. 2820 reauthorizes the National Cord Blood Inventory (NCBI), a program that provides grants to public cord blood banks to assist them in collecting a diverse population of donated cord blood units, which are then listed on the National Registry. The NCBI was created by Smith’s 2005 law PL 109-129.

The bill also reauthorizes the C.W. Bill Young Cell Transplantation Program, which houses the National Registry, the Office of Patient Advocacy, and the Stem Cell Therapeutic Outcomes Database. The National Registry, known as Be The Match and operated by the National Marrow Donor Program through the Department of Health and Human Services, is an example of how willing Americans are to help their neighbors. During the last 30 years, the registry has grown to include 11 million adult volunteer donors and 193,000 cord blood units donated by moms after the birth of their babies. Through international relationships, Americans now have access to 24.5 million additional potential donors and 622,000 cord blood units worldwide.

Transplants involving bone marrow and cord blood stem cells are often the only hope for patients battling fatal blood cancers like leukemia and can cure sickle cell anemia, one of the most horrific diseases suffered by and affecting 1 out of every 500 African-Americans in America. Clinical trials continue to help doctors learn more about how bone marrow and cord blood can be used to treat Type I diabetes, cerebral palsy, metabolic storage diseases, brain injury and respiratory distress in newborns, spinal cord injury, and cartilage injuries.

Text of the legislation is available here.

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<span class="kicker">Fed Funding Bill Provides $886M for Alzheimer’s Research for 2016</span>Smith Praises Bill that Includes $31.2B for NIH, $300M Increase for Alzheimer’s to $886M

2015/06/18

The House Labor, Health and Human Services (L-HHS) Appropriations Subcommittee passed its fiscal year 2016 funding bill Wednesday, which included a major boost in funding at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to address the Alzheimer’s disease (AD) epidemic.  

U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04), co-chair of numerous healthcare caucuses in the House of Representatives, including the Alzheimer’s Task Force, noted that the FY16 total of $31.2 billion for NIH is $1.1 billion above the current enacted level and $100 million above the President’s initial budget request. Smith also underscored that a significant portion of the increase went to fund critical Alzheimer’s research.

“Much of the critical funding increase for the NIH is directed toward specified research areas, most notably $886 million for AD—up $300 million over this year’s total,”  said Smith, who held the first-ever congressional hearing examining the global strategies to address Alzheimer’s disease and, who along with former Congressman Ed Markey of Massachusetts, authored legislation that required the development of the national plan and declared a national goal of preventing and effectively treating Alzheimer's by 2025.

“NIH is our best hope for finding cures, improving treatments, and gaining a better understanding of the complex causes of degenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s,” Smith said. “I am grateful that during these difficult budgetary times, the House continues to prioritize the investments in research that save lives and mitigate the impact of debilitating diseases on individuals, families, and caregivers.”

Smith led a multi-member letter with Task Force Co-Chair Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) requesting an increase in funding Alzheimer’s disease research at NIH for fiscal year 2016. The letter stated in part: “Our nation is at a crossroads….The National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease calls for a cure or an effective treatment for Alzheimer’s by the year 2025. Reaching this goal will require a significant increase in federal funding for Alzheimer’s research.” (Click here to read the letter)

Smith pointed to the costs of Alzheimer’s and other dementias on federal healthcare programs: “AD costs Medicare and Medicaid $150 billion annually. Yet this year we are spending only $586 million to prevent and cure this disease, a fraction of what is needed,” he said.

Smith also recently introduced legislation to provide Medicare coverage for a care planning session where Alzheimer’s patients, their family caregivers, or legal representatives will receive information on medical and non-medical treatments and supports following an AD diagnosis. The Health Outcomes, Planning, and Education (HOPE) for Alzheimer’s Act  has garnered 187 bipartisan cosponsors and is supported by the Alzheimer's Association, the Alzheimer's Foundation of America, USAgainstAlzheimer's and other advocacy organizations.

“Alzheimer’s disease causes great suffering and extracts too high a toll on our families and loved ones. In the 114th Congress, we must all continue to work together to reverse the trajectory of this terrible illness by improving outcomes for Alzheimer’s patients, providing assistance to their caregivers, and ultimately finding a cure,” said Smith.

Alzheimer’s disease is an incurable, degenerative brain condition that affects 5.2 million Americans and is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States.

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Contact Information

2373 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone 202-225-3765
Fax 202-225-7768
chrissmith.house.gov

Committee Assignments

Foreign Affairs

Elected in 1980, Rep. Chris Smith (R-Robbinsville, N.J.) is currently in his 17th term in the U.S. House of Representatives, and serves residents in the Fourth Congressional District of New Jersey. Smith, 60, currently serves as a senior member on the Foreign Affairs Committee, and is chairman of its Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organization Subcommittee. In 2011-2012 he chaired both the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), and the Congressional-Executive Commission on China. He also serves as “Special Representative” on Human Trafficking for the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, and as an executive member of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission. Previously, he served as Chairman of the Veterans Committee (two terms) and Chairman of the Foreign Affairs’ Subcommittee on Human Rights and International Operations and the Subcommittee on Africa.

Smith has long chaired a number of bipartisan congressional caucuses (working groups) including the Pro-life (31 years), Autism (15 years), Alzheimer’s (13 years), Lyme Disease (nineyears), Spina Bifida (nine years), Human Trafficking (nine years), Refugees (nine years), and Combating Anti-Semitism caucuses, and serves on caucuses on Bosnia, Uganda and Vietnam.

According to the independent watchdog organization Govtrack, as of January 2014 Smith ranks fourth among all 435 Members of the House over the last two decades in the number of laws authored.

He is the author of America’s three landmark anti-human trafficking laws including The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, a comprehensive law designed to prevent modern-day slavery, protect victims, and enhance civil and criminal penalties against traffickers, as well as more than a dozen veterans health, education and homeless benefits laws, and laws to boost embassy security, promote democracy, religious freedom, and health care.

Smith is the author of the $265 million Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act of 2005 which established a nationwide program for ethical research and treatment using umbilical cord blood and bone marrow cells. That landmark law was reauthorized in September 2010 for another five years.
In October 2011, Smith’s bill, HR 2005, the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act (CARA) of 2011, was signed into law (Public Law PL112-32), a follow-up to his Autism Statistics, Surveillance, Research, and Epidemiology Act (ASSURE) of 2000.

A lifelong New Jerseyan, Congressman Smith graduated from The College of New Jersey with a degree in business administration. Prior to being elected to Congress, he helped run a small business– his family’s wholesale sporting goods corporation. He is also the former Executive Director of the New Jersey Right to Life Committee.

The congressman is married to his wife of 35 years, Marie, and they have four grown children.


Serving With

Frank LoBiondo

NEW JERSEY's 2nd DISTRICT

Tom MacArthur

NEW JERSEY's 3rd DISTRICT

Scott Garrett

NEW JERSEY's 5th DISTRICT

Leonard Lance

NEW JERSEY's 7th DISTRICT

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NEW JERSEY's 11th DISTRICT

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