Christopher Smith

Christopher Smith

NEW JERSEY's 4th DISTRICT

Smith-McCollum ‘Feed the Future’ Legislation Introduced in House

2014/09/19

Bipartisan legislation to address global hunger and improve agriculture in the world’s poorest countries has been introduced in the House of Representatives.  Sponsored by Republican Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), chairman of the House panel that oversees global health initiatives, and cosponsored by lead Democrat, Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), HR 5656, “The Feed Future Global Food Security Act” is designed to combat hunger and malnutrition and enable countries to feed their own people in the future.

    Over 800 million people around the world suffer from chronic hunger.  The Smith-McCollum bill coordinates the efforts of eleven government agencies in improving basic nutrition and reducing hunger of the poorest in 19 priority countries. It harnesses the efforts of private businesses, faith based organizations and community-based non-profits while highlighting women’s economic empowerment and building the capacity of local small scale farmers. The bill was introduced in the House late last night.

    Begun by President Bush and continued by President Obama, the current U.S. food security program has been funded by Congress in annual appropriations legislation, but without official statutory authorization. The Smith-McCollum bill would permanently codify and authorize such efforts and help marshal a worldwide commitment to tackling hunger and malnutrition.

     “This legislation will save lives, reduce suffering and help stabilize regions of the world,” said Chairman Smith who has spearheaded similar U.S. international, health and nutritional initiatives throughout his career dating back to legislation he successfully offered in 1985 to restore and double the commitment to the then Child Survival Fund program to protect children who would otherwise die from preventable, curable diseases.

  “HR 5656 takes direct aim at the extreme hunger and malnutrition that exist today in the poorest countries around the world in order to help mitigate the suffering and help nations help themselves,” Chairman Smith added.  “It promotes the hope, dream and reality of survival for those who face chronic hunger, while at the same time instituting important accountability measures to monitor and evaluate progress and impact and ensure that the funding and expertise goes the people who need it most.”

  “Chronic hunger and food insecurity is a daily reality for more than 800 million people around the world.  Millions of children die due to under-nutrition – a completely preventable death,” said McCollum. “These are conditions that contribute to unrest, political instability, and threaten our national security.”

  “Investing in agricultural development and improving nutrition is essential to confronting hunger,” McCollum said. “This bipartisan bill extends Feed the Future, the successful U.S. initiative providing tools to small holder farmers in the poorest countries, especially women farmers. This empowers them to grow more food to feed their families and their communities, while improving nutrition and generating income.  Defeating hunger, helping small holder farmers, and keeping children fed and healthy is an investment the American people understand and support.”

  The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will be the lead U.S. agency, in coordination with the Department of Agriculture, the Department of State, the U.S. African Development Foundation and the other agencies.

    Beyond its humanitarian impact, the Smith-McCollum bill also buttresses national security. A January 2014 Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community report stated that the “lack of adequate food will be a destabilizing factor in countries important to United States national security that do not have the financial or technical abilities to solve their internal food security problems.“ Lack of food and nutrition in nations with weak governments might embolden insurgent groups to exploit conditions and undermine and destabilize regions.”

   Many groups have called for the legislation, including American Jewish World Service, Catholic Relief Services, Food for the Hungry, Lutheran World Relief, Oxfam America, Self Help Africa, Stop Hunger Now, United Methodist Church General Board of Church and Society, World Vision and dozens of others.

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Smith Chairs Hearing on Ebola Virus

2014/09/17

An American doctor who contracted Ebola and survived, the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other witnesses testified at a hearing held by the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Africa and global health subcommittee, Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04).

 “We live in a world that is increasingly interconnected, and Ebola has demonstrated that our neighbor’s problems can soon become our problems,” said Smith convened the hearing, entitled “Global Efforts to Fight Ebola,” bringing some of the nation’s top officials involved in the crisis together to testify at the congressional hearing on the unprecedented outbreak of the Ebola. He held a hearing on Ebola in August with the head of the CDC, and high-level officials at the State Department, U.S. Agency for International Development and other experts who called for world action to contain the growing threat of Ebola. “Ebola not only challenges the collective ability of the world community to meet the demands it poses, it threatens the progress made over the last decade by African countries in overcoming conflict and improving economic development,” Smith said. “Even after this outbreak is finally brought under control, its damage will be seen in lowered gross domestic product and diminished foreign investment.”

 He said the epidemic has shown that officials must not be complacent about weak governance or health care systems.Smith said he will soon introduce a bill to address the emergency and ongoing needs in the fight to contain the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.

    Since he contacted Ebola less than two months ago, Dr. Kent Brantly testified that the death toll from Ebola has tripled.

    “At that rate of growth, there will be hundreds of thousands of deaths within the next nine months,” Brantly said. “Agencies like the World Health Organization remain bound up by bureaucracy. Their speeches, proposals, and plans—though noble—have not resulted in any significant action to stop the spread  of Ebola. The U.S. government must take the lead immediately to save precious African lives and protect our national security.”

    Wednesday, Smith hosted two expert panels. Ebola survivor Dr. Kent Brantly, M.D., Medical Missionary at Samaritan’s Purse led off one panel, which also included Chinua Akukwe, M.D., Chair, Africa Working Group, National Academy of Public Administration, and Ted Alemayhu, Founder & Executive Chairman, US Doctors for Africa.

    Leading off the testimony of the other panel were the Director of the Office of Counterterrorism and Emerging Threats-Office of the Chief Scientist at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Luciana Borio, M.D.; Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health , Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, M.D.; Assistant Administrator of the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance U.S. Agency for International Development, Nancy Lindborg; and Director of the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Dr. Beth P. Bell, M.D., all of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Click here to read or watch the rest the testimonies.

    Dr. Borio said the Ebola epidemic in West Africa is the worst in recorded history. The FDA has a critical role in helping to facilitate the development, manufacturing, and availability of investigational products for use against the Ebola virus disease, she said.

    “FDA is actively working to facilitate development of treatments and vaccines with the potential to help mitigate this epidemic,” Borio said. “The investigational vaccines and treatments for Ebola are in the earliest stages of development and have not been tested for safety or effectiveness in humans. Currently, there are only small amounts of some experimental products that have been manufactured for testing. This constrains our options for both properly assessing safety and efficacy of these investigational products in, and making material available for, therapeutic use.”

    Dr. Fauci at NIH said that research into treatment, including potential vaccines is underway.

    “Infection with Ebola virus typically causes fever, severe vomiting diarrhea, rash profound weakness, electrolyte loss, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases internal and external bleeding,” said Dr. Fauci, director of NIH. “Accurate and assessable diagnostics for Ebola virus infection are needed for the rapid identification and treatment of patients in an outbreak because symptoms of Ebola can be easily mistaken for other common causes of fever in affected areas, such as malaria.”

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Non-Partisan Government Watchdog Finds ObamaCare Massively Funds Abortion-on-Demand

2014/09/15

   Despite a promise President Obama made to lawmakers and the American public in a special joint session of Congress on healthcare reform that “under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortion”  a new report released by the non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) today documents massive new public funding of abortion in the President’s healthcare law. 

   “In an 11th hour ploy to garner a remnant of pro-life congressional Democrats absolutely needed for passage of ObamaCare, the President issued an executive order on March 24, 2010 that said: ‘the Act maintains current Hyde Amendment restrictions governing abortion policy and extends those restrictions to newly created health insurance exchanges’,” said Smith, co-chairman of the Bipartisan Congressional Pro-Life Caucus. “It turns out that those ironclad promises made by the President himself are absolutely untrue.”

   A significant majority of Americans oppose public funding of abortion. Under current law, the Hyde Amendment prohibits funding for abortion, and funding for any insurance plan that includes abortion except in the case of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother.

   GAO has found that in 2014, taxpayers are funding over a thousand Obamacare health plans that subsidize abortion on demand—even late-term abortion—in defiance of the Hyde Amendment the President publicly said he would honor.

   Among GAO’s findings:

  • every ObamaCare taxpayer subsidized health insurance plan in New Jersey, Connecticut, Vermont, Rhode Island and Hawaii pays for abortion on demand
  • in New York a 405 out of 426 ObamaCare plans subsidize abortion on demand
  • in California—86 of 90
  • in Massachusetts—109 0f 111
  • in Oregon—92 of 102
  • in Washington, DC—23 of 34

    According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) April 2014 estimate, between 2014 and 2024, taxpayer subsidies to buy ObamaCare health plans will total $855 billion, making taxpayers unwittingly complicit in abortion.

    GAO found that even an accounting trick embedded in ObamaCare requiring premium payers to be accessed a separate monthly abortion surcharge is being completely ignored. The surcharge would have added some modicum of transparency so individuals would know whether they are purchasing a pro-life or pro-abortion health insurance plan if faithfully implemented. Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska summed up the plain meaning of the law: “you have to write two checks.” According to GAO, none of the 18 insurance companies they interviewed are collecting the abortion surcharge separately.

     While the Democrat Leader famously said “We have to pass the bill to find out what’s in it,” during the debate on ObamaCare, now it turns out that consumers have to buy a plan to find out if abortion is in it—a complete lack of transparency. The majority of health insurance policy issuers interviewed by GAO reported that the consumers do not have access to information about whether the plan covers abortion.

    Last year members of Congress and some staff were barred from any further participation in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan (FEHB) and compelled onto the ObamaCare exchanges. For instance, after months of misinformation, obfuscation and delay, Smith learned that of the 112 health plans offered on the exchange for his family, 103 paid for abortion on demand—a clear violation of the law, specifically of the Smith Amendment, a Hyde-like abortion funding ban Smith first sponsored in 1983.

      “Americans throughout the country have raised serious concerns that they find it nearly impossible to determine whether the plan they purchase finances the killing of unborn children—there is little or no transparency—hence the request by several members of Congress including Speaker Boehner that GAO investigate,” Smith said.

    To end President Obama’s new massive funding of abortion on demand, last January the House of Representatives passed a bill authored by Smith—the “No Taxpayers Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act,” HR7. 

     “When Senator Harry Reid was a member of the House he was as pro-life as Henry Hyde,” Smith said. “Now, as Senate Majority Leader, he has refused to even allow a vote on HR 7.”

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ISIS Genocide Against Christians & Minorities in Syria, Iraq Focus of Hearing

2014/09/10

The recent and widespread murders, rapes, displacements and other violence and assaults on the religious freedoms of people in Syria and Iraq and the U.S. effort to address them were the topics of a congressional hearing Wednesday held jointly by the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations and the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa.

    The hearing “Genocidal Attacks Against Christian and Other Religious Minorities in Syria and Iraq,” was chaired by Rep. Chris Smith, and attended other members of the House subcommittees.

    “As images of beheaded American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff are seared into our consciousness, we would do well to honor their memories by recalling that they saw it as their mission to alert the world to the horrors committed by the fanatical Islamist terrorist group ISIS in Syria and Iraq:  Children forced to view crucifixions and beheadings, women bartered, sold and raped, prisoners lined up on their knees to be shot – this is ISIS’ legacy,” Smith said. “Today Christians and other religious minorities, such as Yezidis, Shabaks, and Turkmen Shiites are not just facing a long winter without homes.  They are not just hungry and thirsty and wandering from village to village in Northern Iraq and Kurdistan.  They are facing annihilation—genocide—by fanatics who see anyone who does not subscribe to its draconian and violent interpretation of Islam as fair game for enslavement, forced conversion or death,” Smith said. Click here to read Cong. Smith’s opening statement.

    Assistant Secretary Tom Malinowski, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, U.S. Department of State, testified that he alarmed by the violence waged by the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) against Iraqis of all sects, ethnicities, and religions.

     “The U.S. government is very focused on ending ISIL’s reign of terror and ensuring protection and access to humanitarian assistance for all its victims,” Malinowski said. “We are particularly appalled by ISIL’s targeted and systematic efforts to drive out and potentially eradicate entire religious communities from their historic homelands in the Ninewa plains area and Sinjar district. Among ISIL’s clear ambitions is the destruction of Iraq’s rich religious heritage and ethnic diversity and absolute subjugation of all people within its reach. The Iraqi people need and deserve a government that not only represents all of their voices but also provides basic government services and security.”

    Assistant Secretary Anne Richard, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, U.S. Department of State said that prior to the 2014 conflict, there were an estimated 500,000 Christians and 500,000 Yezidis living throughout Iraq, with large communities living in Ninewa.

    “Now, most members of religious minority communities have fled Ninewa,” Richard said. “In the Kurdish region, they joined hundreds of thousands other displaced Iraqis, including approximately 100,000 Christians, who escaped the brutal occupation of Mosul and nearby communities. UNHCR estimates that the Kurdish regions of northern Iraq now host more than one million people, a mix of displaced Iraqis (850,000) and Syrian refugees (215,000).”

    In special peril are “the Christians, Yezidis, Shabak, Turkmen, and other minorities who are being targeted by ISIL forces,” she said. “ISIL has demonstrated unbounded bigotry and brutality toward ethnic and religious minorities. Its atrocities include mass killings, beheadings, abductions, forced conversions, forced marriages, and rape.”

    Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator Thomas Staal, Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance, U.S. Agency for International Development said Christians and other vulnerable populations “are suffering unimaginable horrors from the systematic violence carried out against them by the terrorist organization known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).” The daily atrocities committed by ISIL against the Iraqi people – including the violence targeting ethnic minorities and religious groups – is claiming and destroying countless lives, tearing at the fabric of society, and further enflaming sectarian violence. Furthermore, ISIL’s abhorrent treatment of women and children is unconscionable.”

    Also testifying were: Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce of California President Johnny Oram in lieu of Bishop Ibrahim N. Ibrahim, Bishop Emeritus, Chaldean Eparchy of St. Thomas the Apostle; Peter Galbraith, former advisor to the Kurdistan Regional Government; Pascale Esho Warda, President, Hammurabi Human Rights Organization, (Former Minister of Immigration and Refugees in the Iraqi Government), and Dr. Thomas Farr, Ph.D., Director, Religious Freedom Project, Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs Georgetown University. Click here to read the testimony of the witnesses.

    “In the past perpetrators of genocide and crimes against humanity have tried to cover up their crimes. ISIS advertises its atrocities in slickly produced videos,” Galbraith said. “We know what is happening. The question is what will the United States and its allies do about it.” He urged that the West recognize that ISIS is committing genocide against Iraq’s Christians and the Yazidis, and is killing, causing serious bodily and mental harm, and inflicting intolerable physical conditions “with the announced intent of destroying the Christian and Yazidi religious groups in their entirety.”

    Warda said that refugees are living in streets, open fields, schools, and church halls and courtyards, abandoned, condemned and unfinished buildings and in large tent camps.

    “Winter is approaching, and many of the old, young and weak will not survive the cold weather,” Warda said. “The displaced children will miss their school year. The local children will also miss their school year because schools are overfilled with refugees. Minorities are threatened with death and executed, they are kidnapped and raped, they are robbed and pillaged. They are denied water and electric service. Women are kidnapped and sold and forced to marry ISIS members.”

    Farr said the violence and the root cause of the genocide and threats to religious minorities in Iraq and Syria is Islamist terrorism of the kind that hit the U.S. on 9/11. That phenomenon finds its origins in a radical, and spreading, interpretation of Islam -- nourished and subsidized by secular and religious Middle Eastern tyrants, he said.

    “Tomorrow we mark the 13th anniversary of the Islamist terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001,” Farr said. “What we are facing in Iraq and Syria today has deeply troubling similarities to 9/11, both in its origins and its threat to American national security. There is, of course, at least one major difference between now and then. While Christians in the Middle East were under mounting pressure in 2001, today their very existence is at risk. We are witnessing the disappearance of Christians and Christianity from Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere in the Middle East – a religious/cultural genocide with terrible humanitarian, moral, and strategic consequences for Christians, for the region, and for us all.”
 

 

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Daughters of Political Prisoners in China Appeal for their Fathers' Releases

2014/09/10

Daughters of China Plea for Release of their Imprisoned Fathers

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The daughters and relatives of political prisoners held in China will make an appeal to Beijing to let their fathers and loved ones out of prison at a press conference Wednesday, said Chairman Chris Smith (NJ-04), head of the global human rights subcommittee in the House of Representatives, and co-chairman of the U.S. Commission on China.

China continues to detain and torture prisoners of conscience, including human rights lawyers and family members of U.S. citizens and legal residents. Smith will also detail his legislation—the China Human Rights Protection Act of 2014, HR 5379—intended to better protect human rights in China. The bill includes measures to address restrictions and visa denials of foreign journalists in China.

With the Obama Administration poised to engage the Chinese government at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in China this fall, family members of Chinese prisoners of conscience to urge the President to address the imprisonment and persecution of human rights, democracy, and religious freedom advocates.

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

  • Grace Geng Ge, Daughter of Attorney Gao Zhisheng
  • Zhang Huixin, Daughter of Pastor Zhang Shaojie
  • Wang Ti-Anna, Daughter of Dr. Wang Bingzhang
  • Chang Ruoyu, Daughter of Attorney Chang Boyang
  • Deng Guiqin, Wife of Attorney Chang Boyang
  • Chen Qiao, Daughter of Liu Xianbin
  • Friends of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche and Lobsang Tsering

When: Wednesday, Sept. 17 at 2:30 p.m.

Where: The House Triangle, pictured below, is located in the grassy triangle area on the Capitol Building's East Front lawn, just off Independence Ave. near New Jersey Ave. RAIN LOCATION: TBA.

 

 

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House Passes Lyme Bill; Smith helped advance HR 4701; Bill identifies, addresses chronic Lyme disease for first time

2014/09/09

The House of Representatives tonight passed legislation cosponsored by U.S. Rep. Chris Smith—the Tick-Borne Disease Research Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 (HR 4701)—which, if enacted, will be the first federal law to identify and seek to address chronic Lyme disease.

    “The bill before us begins the process of helping Lyme patients by establishing an interagency Working Group on Lyme disease and creating a strategic plan to guide existing federal Lyme disease research and treatment programs,” said Smith calling for passage of the bill. “This Working Group will be required to comply with FACA, the Federal Advisory Committee Act, which ensures decisions are made in an open and transparent manner and allows for greater public input in the decision making process.

    “The final bill brought to the floor today will address the gaps in health treatment—the great unmet need—for patients in the Lyme community,” Smith said. “It is a great step forward for chronic Lyme patients, especially those who have suffered for decades with this debilitating disease—only to be told that their illness doesn’t exist.”

    Smith noted that Lyme disease patients have suffered for years and that today’s passage of HR 4701 is “truly historical.”  He said that as far back as 1992, he met with the top medical officials at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) working on Lyme disease, including NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), the Division of Vector-Borne Infectious Diseases at the National Center for Infectious Diseases.

    “At this meeting, we discussed ways to assist patients and raise awareness of treatments for individuals who receive a diagnosis,” Smith said. “I raised the apparent ineffectiveness of a month long antibiotic treatment for those suffering from chronic Lyme and argued that much more needs to be learned about Lyme disease and how to prevent it, detect it and treat it.  Today, 22 years later, far too little has been accomplished.”

    Smith, the co-founder and co-chair of the House Lyme Disease Caucus, has been working on the legislation closely with Rep. Chris Gibson (NY-19), the sponsor of the bill, as well as House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton and Health Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts.

    Smith credited grassroots Lyme advocacy groups for their unyielding commitment to improving the federal response to Lyme disease and for the progress on the legislation. The Lyme Disease Association of Jackson, N.J., led by Pat Smith of Wall, N.J., is one such group.

     Pat Smith is an extraordinary woman whose work has been transformational,” Smith said.

    The bill, which passed unanimously in a voice vote, specifically identifies the goal of improving outcomes for Lyme disease patients with chronic or persistent infection and co-infections—which afflicts approximately 10-20 percent of newly infected Lyme disease patients.

    Smith pointed out that the CDC refers to chronic Lyme as "Post-treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome" (PTLDS)—a term that suggests that suggests perhaps incorrectly that the Spirochaete has been vanquished—and that long term antibiotics is not recommended.  But doctors, including Dr. Richard Horowitz, disagree.  Smith noted Dr. Horowitz comments that: "increasing the dose of antibiotics and/or extending the length of treatment, clearly did help a certain percentage of my patients.  Their fatigue, headaches, joint and muscle pain, and cognitive symptoms improved.”

     “Dr. Horowitz is not alone,” said Smith. “We need scientific based answers and a comprehensive probe that goes wherever the data suggests.”
 
     
This Congress, Smith introduced a similar bipartisan bill, HR 610, establishing a Tick-Borne Diseases Advisory Committee to help ensure that a broad spectrum of scientific viewpoints—including opinions on chronic Lyme—would be represented in public health policy decisions. The legislation would also enhance communication among federal agencies, medical professionals, patients, and patient advocates.

    HR 4701 incorporated many of Smith’s provisions and will allow the patients suffering from Lyme, the doctors and researchers working on Lyme, and the boots-on-the-ground advocacy organizations to have a seat at the table when decisions are made.

    The legislation now heads to the Senate.Read the full text here.

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Smith Calls for South Sudanese Combatants to Come to Agreement on Peace Plan

2014/09/09

Less than two weeks after apparently coming to agreement on a plan to move forward on a peace agreement negotiated by regional leaders, South Sudanese rebels indicate they will not sign an agreement that leaves President Salva Kiir in power. Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04), chairman of the House subcommittee that oversees issues on Africa, said today that while politics are at the heart of what has become a civil war, political grievances must be put aside in the interest of peace.

   The presidents of the six nations comprising the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an East African international organization, signed the peace accord on Aug. 25, along with the three IGAD special envoys for South Sudan and South Sudanese President Kiir. Dr. Riek Machar, leader of the rebel forces now known as the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army in Opposition (SPLM/A IO) did not officially sign, but was believed to have accepted the plan. The plan created a Prime Minister’s position that Machar’s organization would fill. However, spokesmen for SPLM/A IO have since said they cannot accept Kiir remaining president.

    Smith said an orderly transition is critical to regional stability.

     “We have learned again in recent years what happens when a leader is removed precipitously without proper consideration of how a transition would work,” Smith said. “The situations in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia have been troubled in the aftermath of sudden changes in government. There must be an orderly transition in South Sudan, and the IGAD peace plan offers a credible way forward. It should be executed as soon as possible.”

     
In addition to refusing to accept Kiir continuing as President, SPLM/A IO also objects to the continuing presence of foreign forces in South Sudan, particularly Ugandan troops who have fought to keep government forces from being overrun early in the conflict last winter.  The rebels have not specifically ruled out the continuing involvement of the peacekeeping forces of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, whose mandate supports the Government of South Sudan in providing security.

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Rep. Smith Attends Autism Event in Monmouth County

2014/09/08


This story was originally printed in the Sept. 8 edition of the Asbury Park Press at
:

 http://www.app.com/story/news/local/neptune-wall/belmar/2014/09/07/belmar-beach-bash-draws-thousands-affected-autism/15256407/
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Beheadings, Other Attacks on Christians & Minorities in Syria, Iraq Focus of Hearing

2014/09/05

The recent beheadings, murders, rapes and other violence and assaults on the religious freedoms of people in Syria and Iraq and the U.S. effort to address them will be the topic of a congressional hearing planned for Wednesday, to be held jointly by the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations and the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa.

            “Genocidal Attacks Against Christian and Other Religious Minorities in Syria and Iraq,” is the title of the hearing.

Who:   Chairman Chris Smith, and other members of the House subcommittees, and witnesses:                                 

  • Assistant Secretary Tom Malinowski, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, U.S. Department of State
  • Assistant Secretary Anne Richard, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, U.S. Department of State
  • Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator Thomas Staal, Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance, U.S. Agency for International Development
  • His Excellency Ibrahim N. Ibrahim, Bishop Emeritus, Chaldean Eparchy of St. Thomas the Apostle

  • Peter Galbraith, former advisor to the Kurdistan Regional Government
  • Pascale Esho Warda, President, Hammurabi Human Rights Organization, (Former Minister of Immigration and Refugees in the Iraqi Government)
  • Dr. Thomas Farr, Ph.D., Director, Religious Freedom Project, Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs Georgetown University

When:             Wednesday, Sept. 10 at 2 p.m.

Where:            Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2172 (first floor)

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N.J. National Guard Facility at Sea Girt Breaks Ground for $30 Million Construction Project

2014/09/01

U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04) gave the keynote address Tuesday at the groundbreaking ceremony of the New Jersey Army National Guard Regional Training Institute (RTI) to be constructed at the National Guard Training Center in Sea Girt, Monmouth County.

    “This groundbreaking is a huge achievement,” said Smith. “This Training Center will provide a state-of-the-art venue designed to facilitate superior training opportunities for medics, OCS and NCO classes among others not just for New Jersey but for the entire Northeast as well.”

    The $30.8 million, 86,000-square-foot facility will include an administration and classroom building with 10 classrooms and a library, an auditorium with seating for 225 personnel and a student housing building. The facility will provide soldiers the necessary classroom and related training space combined with billeting accommodations for year-round training, as well as supporting both current and future schoolhouse requirements.

    Stressing the importance of training, Smith said, “Whether the mission be combat or natural disasters or manmade emergencies, superior training mitigates error, loss of life and casualties and ensures superior performance, efficiency, cohesiveness and ultimately success.”

    Congressman Smith was introduced at the Aug. 26 event by Brig. Gen. James Grant, Chief of the Joint Staff, who said of Smith, “I believe that Congressman Smith’s biggest focus is not only the military, but being a member of the human rights commission because he takes it seriously that human beings are our most precious resource in this nation.  He understands it; he gets it and he alone is the standard bearer in our United States Congress on that particular issue.”

    The new facility will replace the current World-War-II-era buildings that are severely outdated and lacking in technology, said Grant. Grant said the project was made possible thanks to the support of Congressman Smith whom he said championed the project.

    “I want to thank the Guard for your tenacious promotion of this important training center,” Smith said. “It would have not happened if you had left one stone unturned. So the credit goes to the New Jersey National Guard and Gen. Grant and Gen. Cunniff for your leadership.”

    The new Regional Training Institute will provide a modern instructional complex where National Guard soldiers and up to one-third of the U.S. Army Reserve soldiers from Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont will receive Military Occupational Specialty sustainment and leadership training.

    The 254th Regiment (Combat Arms) programs and provides institutional training within assigned career management fields, Non-Commissioned Officer Education System, Military Occupational Specialty Training and Officer Candidate School missions based on the requirements identified by the National Guard Bureau-Individual Training Branch, the Army Program for Individual Training, the United States Army Reserve, and the Active Component in support of the Army’s Modular Force. The 254th trains soldiers in response to the Army’s current needs and operational environment and additionally, provides operational, training, administrative, logistical and resource management support as required to accomplish the mission to train soldiers.

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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