“World Autism Awareness Day is an opportunity to highlight the progress we have made to better understand Autism Spectrum Disorder and assist impacted families, but to also raise awareness of the significant challenges that remain—both in the U.S. and abroad,” said Smith, Co-chair of the Congressional Coalition for Autism Research and Education, and Chairman of the House Subcommittee that oversees global health.
“I am so grateful for the opportunity to join with Suzanne and Bob Wright—tenacious leaders who lead the fight to make today one of only seven U.N.-sanctioned ‘world days,’ and light the world blue to raise awareness of ASD,” said Smith, referring to the campaign to light buildings and landmarks blue or wear blue on April 2 to bring attention to the needs of the autism community. “Their work is helping millions around the world understand an ASD diagnosis and then know what to do to ensure a loved one has the necessary support.”
About 1 in 68 children in the US has been identified with ASD, according to the most recent estimates from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) released in 2014. In Smith’s home state of New Jersey, 1 in every 45 children has ASD, the highest rate in the study. Internationally, it is estimated that 67 million individuals are on the spectrum.
“In many countries, ASD is largely under recognized, under appreciated in its impact, and under resourced,” Smith continued. “Events like today’s closing bell ringing, are critical to our efforts to focus attention on this developmental disability pandemic and continue a united strategy to improve the quality of life of children, adults, and families impacted by autism, wherever they reside.”
Smith’s initial involvement with autism came in 1998, when a Brick Township, N.J. couple who had two children with autism approached him with fears that an autism cluster existed in their community. The meeting led Smith to request that the federal government conduct an investigation into a possible autism cluster in Brick. The investigation, one of the first federal studies on autism, not only showed higher rates of autism in Brick but also demonstrated that rate was not an isolated case, but a window to a nationwide phenomenon.
He then authored and shepherded into law the landmark 2000 Autism Statistics, Surveillance, Research and Epidemiology Act (Title I of the Children’s Health Act, PL 106-310). He also authored two other autism laws—the 2011 Combating Autism Reauthorization Act, (Public Law 112-32), and the 2014 Autism CARES Act (PL 113-157)—which combine to build on and expand the critical research, services and supports for families impacted by ASD.
Smith is now working to bring the lessons learned in the US to the global stage—where studies in Asia, Europe, and North America indicate that an average of about 1% of the population has ASD. Smith has chaired two hearings on the global impact of autism, and in the 113th Congress, he introduced HR 4631 – the Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education, and Support Act, and HR 3054 – the Global Autism Assistance Act. The latter bill is now part of HR 1468 – the Global Brain Health Act of 2015, introduced in the current 114th Congress.
“As a result of better federal policies and funding, we have a better handle on the impact of autism in the U.S. and the services needed to ensure that individuals with ASD can live productive lives,” said Smith. “But we still have so many unanswered questions and are facing a crisis that must be urgently addressed. Every year, 50,000 young people on the autism spectrum matriculate to adulthood and are in the process of losing services. My Autism CARES Act began a national conversation on how we can anticipate and better prepare to meet the needs of the ‘aging-out’ population. While this is a key first step, there is much more to do.
“Today, we should all join this conversation and reflect on how we can build on the past successes to take concerted actions that will help overcome future global challenges.”
Smith’s most recent law authorized $1.3 billion over five years, including $22 million for the Developmental Disabilities Surveillance and Research Program; $48 million for Autism Education, Early Detection, and Intervention, and; $190 million for hundreds of Research Grants at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and for the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee.
“I congratulate President-elect Muhammadu Buhari for his momentous win and look forward to working with his Administration as I have with the government of current President Goodluck Jonathan,” Smith said. “I commend President Jonathan for quelling potential disruptions in the transition process by promptly conceding his defeat. I also want to acknowledge the effective work by Professor Attahiru Jega, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, in conducting what is considered to be perhaps the most transparent election in recent Nigerian history.
“The Nigerian people themselves deserve much credit for their patience and determination to express their political views peacefully through two days of voting and some difficulties at polling places across the country,” Smith said.
Smith has worked with the Jonathan Administration to resolve obstacles complicating U.S. efforts to provide counter-terrorism training to Nigerian military and security forces, especially issues involving human rights vetting of Nigerian forces under the U.S. Leahy Law. He has urged the inclusion of qualified Nigerian human rights organizations in the vetting process and has asked the Obama Administration to consider the Nigerian request to designate the country as a major non-NATO ally, which would make training and other support more readily available to Nigeria in its fight against the Boko Haram terrorist group. Although thus far there has been no repeat of the widespread post-election violence of 2011, Boko Haram is reported to have killed more than 40 victims Saturday during the election.
The congressman visited Nigeria in 2013 and 2014, and heard from maimed victims of the terrorist group firsthand. He returned to Washington and introduced the ‘‘Boko Haram Terrorist Designation Act of 2013,’’ H.Res. 3209. The State Department later agreed to declare the group a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) at the November 13, 2013, House hearing chaired by Smith, who also held an earlier hearing on Nigeria in 2012.
Smith, who is chairman of the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations, led a hearing last week to find out how the U.S. State Department is enforcing the "Sean and David Goldman Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act," which was sponsored by the congressman and signed into law by President Barack Obama in August.
The federal law requires the Secretary of State to submit to Congress each year a report on which nations engage in a pattern of noncompliance in cases of child abduction. The legislation also allows for sanctions to be imposed against countries that persistently fail to follow either the Hague Abduction Conventions, a 1980 international treaty that bars parents from fleeing to other countries until custody is decided, or similar agreements the United States has with countries that are not part of that treaty.
The statute is named for David Goldman and his son Sean, who was returned to his father from the boy's maternal grandparents in Brazil, on Christmas Eve in 2009, after Smith intervened in the matter.
Less than half of all children abducted to other countries each year ever come home again, Smith said, who spoke before a committee room populated by parents of children who were spirited away to other countries, usually by the other parent who may be a naturalized U.S. citizen or foreign national.
"Most of the left-behind parents in the audience today have not seen their children in years and know all too well the financial, legal, cultural, and linguistic obstacles to bringing their children home from a foreign country," Smith said in his public remarks at the hearing on Wednesday.
Bindu Philips, a Plainsboro mother, whose twin sons were abducted to India, testified at the hearing.
"My world and that of my innocent children was violently disrupted by my ex-husband, Sunil Jacob in December of 2008, when he orchestrated the kidnapping of the children during a vacation to India," Philips told the committee. "I would note that the children, my ex-husband and I are American citizens and that the children were born in America, which is the only nation they identified with as home."
A state Superior Court judge in New Jersey awarded Philips sole custody of the couple's children in 2009. Nevertheless, she noted that she has not been able to see or have contact with her children since their father decided to keep them with him in India.
"My children have lost six years of their mother's love and care and I have lost six years of my children's childhood that neither of us can ever get back," she said. "I have put everything I have into my mission to be reunited with my children."
Ambassador Susan S. Jacobs, special advisor for Children's Issues in the Bureau of Consular Affairs at the State Department, testified that of the more than 900 cases of international child abductions in 2014, 260 have been returned or resolved.
Smith has held multiple hearings on the plights of American children who have been abducted to Brazil, India, Japan, Egypt, Russia, and even close allies such as the United Kingdom, according to his office.
This article was originally published at The Asbury Park Press website:
|With votes still not completely tallied on Monday after Nigeria’s 2015 presidential election this past weekend, U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations, has called on President Goodluck Jonathan and former General Muhammadu Buhari, his main challenger, to urge their supporters to continue to avoid violence despite problems with the voting process, the extension of voting into a second day and questions being raised about the vote counting.
The Nigerian presidential election, originally scheduled for Feb. 14, was postponed until this past Saturday because the Independent Nigerian Election Commission (INEC) said there were security concerns over possible Boko Haram attacks and incomplete electoral preparations. Despite the six-week delay, observers reported that many polling stations opened at least an hour late, and election officials reportedly often seemed confused about how to operate the voter card readers installed to provide transparency in the voting process. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and British Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond issued a joint statement praising the voting process, but citing “disturbing indications” about the vote counting process.
“This election was long predicted to be the closest in Nigerian history. Consequently, it is not unusual that vote counting could take more time than anticipated,” Smith said. “However, Nigerians should not allow voting problems and counting delays to ratchet up tensions, resulting in violence such as we saw after the 2011 elections. Both leading presidential candidates have an obligation to follow a peaceful process that promotes a careful review and the handling of any dispute through appropriate appeals procedures in the courts.”
In 2011, more than 800 people were killed in post-election violence. Thus far, there has been limited violence, mostly attributed to Boko Haram attacks in northeastern Nigeria and what appears to have been an over-zealous police response to a large demonstration by opposition supporters to the elections in the southern Rivers State – home of President Jonathan.
Smith is joined by original co-sponsors Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN); the House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Edward R. Royce (R-CA) and Ranking Member Eliot L. Engel (D-NY), Reps. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), Karen Bass (D-CA), Ander Crenshaw (R-FL), Rosa L. DeLauro (D-CT), David G. Reichert (R-WA), Adam Smith (D-WA), Erik Paulsen (R-MN), David N. Cicilline (D-RI), and James P. McGovern (D-MA). The co-sponsors are well-known leaders in the fight against global hunger and malnutrition, as well as champions of small-scale producers’ efforts to lift themselves out of poverty.
“There are malnourished men, women and children across Africa and elsewhere, and this bipartisan legislation will help save lives. It provides a long-term solution to global hunger by authorizing and strengthening the existing national food security program coordinated by USAID commonly known as Feed the Future,” 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, which helped protect children who would otherwise die from preventable, curable diseases.
“This program encourages nations to be self-sufficient and not permanently reliant on foreign assistance,” Smith said. “It operates in countries that need a leg up where the host governments have committed to investing in local agricultural development and undertaking reforms that allow the private sector to feed people who would otherwise be at risk of malnutrition.”
The program’s goals are to build or rebuild local capacity and sustainability, linking local entrepreneurs to the local and regional economy. It also focuses on nutrition programs during the first 1000 days of life, from conception to the child’s second birthday.
“We know that the first 1000 days of a child’s life, from conception to the second birthday, are absolutely critical in terms of combating stunting, strengthening children’s immune system, and also ensuring that the next 30,000 days will be as healthy as possible,” Smith said.
In the past year, Feed the Future has helped seven million farmers across the globe increase harvests, resulting in improved nutrition for 12.5 million children. To give one example, in Ethiopia stunting rates were driven down by nine percent in just three years, resulting in roughly 160,000 fewer children suffering from malnutrition.
“Feed the Future also helps small farmers, many of whom are women, so that they are better able to earn income to support their families,” Smith said.
The legislation seeks to capture and sustain the successes the U.S. government is already achieving through its Feed the Future Initiative. Drawing on resources and expertise from 11 federal agencies, Feed the Future is investing in national agricultural investment strategies and is helping many countries in need, including 19 focus countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia, transform their agricultural sectors and sustainably produce enough nutritious food to feed their people. The Initiative has already achieved impressive results: in 2013, Feed the Future reached more than 12.5 million children with nutrition interventions and helped nearly seven million farmers and producers with new technologies and management practices on more than 4 million hectares of land.
Over 50 non-governmental, faith-based and university organizations have signed on to a statement of support of the Smith legislation. These include American Jewish World Services, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, Bread for the World, Food for the Hungry, InterAction, Lutheran World Relief, Salesian Missions and World Vision.
“Upon receiving an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, patients and their families are frequently at a loss for how to effectively plan for the next stage of their lives,” said Smith. “While Medicare currently covers a diagnostic evaluation for beneficiaries, the program then offers little support in terms of next steps. I believe it is vital that patients and caregivers have an individualized plan to cope, information on available resources and a path forward.
“I am grateful for the support of the Task Forces’ Co-chairs—Reps. Maxine Waters (D-CA), and Chaka Fattah (D-PA)—and our co-leads— Reps. Peter Roskam (R-IL), Paul Tonko (D-NY), and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)—all of whom are committed to helping move this important legislation forward,” Smith continued.
Specifically, the HOPE Act will provide coverage of a care planning session for Medicare beneficiaries where the individual, their caregiver or legal representative will receive information about medical and non-medical treatments to plan for their future care.
Smith’s bill requires stakeholder engagement on scope and elements of what constitutes “care planning services,” allowing for initial and future input from outside stakeholders like physicians, non-physician practitioners, and patient advocacy groups. The HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act will also provide for an outreach initiative on this benefit to instruct healthcare providers and supply them with materials on appropriate care planning.
The legislation ensures transparency and accountability by requiring the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to report to Congress on the steps they are taking to satisfy the outreach requirement, as well as requiring annual reports on the HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act benefit utilization, including recommendations on eliminating barriers to access.
“When they know of the challenges awaiting them and the resources available to help them, individuals and their caregivers can more effectively manage treatment of the disease,” Smith said.
With the goal of expanding the Task Forces’ reach, this Congress Reps. Smith and Waters asked two Congressmen to join them as additional cochairmen given their history of advocacy for better federal policies addressing the needs of Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers.
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA):
“I am proud to join with my colleague, Congressman Chris Smith, to reintroduce the HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act. This bill will give Medicare patients and their families access to information about options for medical care and support when they face the challenge of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. It will improve patient care by allowing families to make informed decisions and plan for their care and treatment needs.”
Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA):
“While we continue our efforts to increase federal funding for brain research that will lead to future cures and treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, in near-term we must also work to improve the care and planning resources available as patients and their families receive news of a diagnosis. I am a proud sponsor of the HOPE Act, bipartisan legislation that makes great strides towards easing the burden as Medicare patients and their families grapple with the effects of Alzheimer’s. This bill recognizes the hardships and uncertainty that these patients face at the time of diagnosis and seeks to provide the necessary tools and support that will ultimately lead to a better quality of life. I commend the continued work of my Task Force colleagues in pushing for policies that bring deserved attention to Alzheimer’s.”
Smith also commended the three Members who agreed to co-lead the bill, for their work and support:
Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL):
“I'm pleased to help introduce the HOPE for Alzheimer's Act, a critical advancement for the Alzheimer's community in ensuring effective diagnosis is paired with the delivery of information for patients and their families to assist with care planning and disease management. More than 5 million Americans currently live with Alzheimer’s disease, and that number will continue to rise as nearly 10,000 baby boomers age into Medicare on a daily basis—it is critical we ensure the newly diagnosed and caregivers have access to resources for care and support.”
Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY):
"Long-term caregiver support and quality care planning is critical to providing the best outcomes for Alzheimer’s patients and families, and the HOPE Act will help us to boost these efforts and ensure that proper documentation is made to better coordinate care. In addition to the toll it takes on our loved ones, Alzheimer's costs our nation billions -- including $153 billion in Medicare and Medicaid dollars. It is well past time for Congress to provide support to our health care professionals to treat and ultimately cure this disease. I thank Congressman Smith for his commitment on this issue and look forward to working with him to ensure this bill becomes law in the 114th Congress.”
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR):
“The reason I founded and co-chair the Neuroscience Caucus is in part to promote better care for those whose lives are affected by neurological diseases. The HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act is no exception. We are facing a tidal wave of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia in our future, and we need a system in place that educates and prepares those families and individuals diagnosed. The HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act is a promising step forward to ensuring improved results for those living with Alzheimer’s, and I urge my colleagues to support this important legislation.”
See What They are Saying about the HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act:
Alzheimer's Association Chief Policy Officer, Robert Egge:
“Current coverage for care planning falls short of what is necessary for people newly-diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and their families to adequately process and plan for their new reality. This legislation encourages doctors to talk to their patients about an Alzheimer’s diagnosis and ensures that the necessary steps are taken to provide them with access to available care planning services.”
Alzheimer's Foundation of America’s President and CEO, Charles Fuschillo, Jr.:
“By increasing access to information on care planning and support, the HOPE Act will enable those living with Alzheimer’s disease and their family caregivers to better face the challenges of dementia. AFA applauds Reps. Smith for introducing the HOPE Act and addressing the Alzheimer’s disease crisis in our nation head on. As a voice for those living with dementia and their family caregivers, AFA looks forward to working with Rep. Smith and others to energize Congress to pass this legislation and make a difference in the lives of those impacted by this insidious brain disorder.”
USAgainstAlzheimer's Chairman and Co-Founder, George Vradenburg:
"Medicare beneficiaries with Alzheimer's and dementia -- and their family caregivers who are often Medicare beneficiaries themselves -- deserve access to care planning services once a person with dementia receives a diagnosis. Appropriate and targeted care supports have been demonstrated to improve quality of life for persons with Alzheimer's as well as their caregivers, and, in doing so, to help enable persons with the disease to stay in their home for longer periods of time."
"The HOPE Act is critical for patients and caregivers, as well as Medicare and Medicaid. HOPE is a necessary first step toward providing such services to our Medicare beneficiaries. I commend Congressman Smith and Congresswoman Waters for reintroducing this legislation and urge Congress to enact it into law this Congress," Vradenburg added.
A congressional hearing to help the thousands of American children and brokenhearted “left-behind” parents from across the U.S. who are victims of international child abduction and to find out how the U.S. State Department is using the 2014-enacted “Sean and David Goldman Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act” to bring them home, was held Wednesday.
“Every year, approximately 1,000 American children are unlawfully removed from their homes by one of their parents and taken across international borders. Less than half of these children ever come home,” said Smith, who traveled repeatedly to bring back Sean Goldman, then 9, back to the U.S. in 2009 after a five-year abduction to Brazil, and author of the bill. “Most of the left-behind parents in the audience today have not seen their children in years and know all too well the financial, legal, cultural, and linguistic obstacles to bringing their children home from a foreign country.” Click here to read the congressman’s remarks.
The Congressional hearing entitled “The Goldman Act to Return Abducted American Children: Reviewing Obama Administration Implementation,” saw testimony from Ambassador Susan S. Jacobs, Special Advisor for Children's Issues in the Bureau of Consular Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, and ‘left behind’ parents Jeffery Morehouse, Executive Director of Bring Abducted Children Home, or BAC Home (a Washington State father of abducted child to Japan); Bindu Philips, (New Jersey Mother of Abducted Children to India), Deven Davenport (North Carolina Father of Abducted Children to Brazil), and Scott Sawyer, (father of an abducted child taken to Japan). All the witnesses testimony can be read or watched by clicking here.
David Goldman, the father whose five year-battle to bring his son Sean home in 2009 and is now an advocate for left behind parents, was one of the dozens of parents attending the hearing. David Feimster, of Jackson, N.J., who with his wife Gail fought to assist their daughter when her children were abducted overseas, also came to the hearing. Smith pointed out the Feimsters’ hard-fought case to recover their two grandchildren from Tunisia in 2011. He also recounted the case of Michael Elias of Rutherford, N.J. whose children Jade and Michael remain in Japan.
Philips, of Plainsboro, N.J., was accompanied by a Plainsboro law enforcement officer who came to Washington to hear her testify about her still-abducted children.
“My world and that of my innocent children, was violently disrupted by my ex-husband, Sunil Jacob in December of 2008, when he orchestrated the kidnapping of the children during a vacation to India,” Philips said. “I would note that the children, my ex-husband and I are American citizens and that the children were born in America, which is the only nation they identified with as home.”
Despite New Jersey Superior Court awarded her sole legal and residential custody of the children in December 2009, she not been able to see or communicate with her children.
“My children have lost six years of their mother’s love and care and I have lost 6 years of my children’s childhood that neither of us can ever get back. I have put everything I have into my mission to be reunited with my children.” Click here to read Mrs. Philips testimony.
Ambassador Jacobs testified that of over 900 cases of international child abductions and parental access in 2014, 260 were returned or resolved. Smith noted that meant approximately two-thirds remained abducted overseas. She promised the present left behind parents that she would enforce the Goldman Act.
“We will implement the law,” Jacobs said. “You have my commitment.” Click here to read her statement.
Smith, who assisted in both the Goldman and Feimster cases, and is still assisting in the Philips and Elias cases and others, wrote the Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act, which enacted last August. The congressman wrote the original proposed legislation in 2009 subsequent to his personal intervention in the fight to bring Sean Goldman home to New Jersey, years after he had been abducted to Brazil by his mother. Smith’s successful work with Sean’s father, David, and a team of lawyers, volunteers and media helped bring Sean home, but also uncovered gaping weaknesses in U.S. law and the need to codify best practices so that other Americans will also see their children returned home.
Smith has held multiple hearings on the heartbreaking cases of left-behind parents of American children abducted to India, Japan, Egypt, Brazil, Russia, England and other countries, from which few are returned. Not all countries have signed The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, the main international treaty to address parental abductions. The Hague provides a civil framework for the quick return of abducted children to their home country, and facilitation of visitation and contact between parents and children during the pendency of the case and after the resolution. Unfortunately, many Hague signatories, like Brazil, fail to consistently enforce the Hague Convention provisions.
Among its many provisions, the Goldman Act provides eight steps the Administration should take, increasing in severity, when a country refuses to cooperate in the resolution of overseas abduction and access cases involving American children: a demarche; an official public statement detailing unresolved cases; a public condemnation; a delay or cancellation of one or more bilateral working, official, or state visits; the withdrawal, limitation, or suspension of U.S. development assistance; the withdrawal, limitation, or suspension of U.S. security assistance; the withdrawal, limitation, or suspension of foreign assistance to the central government of a country relating to economic support; and a formal request to the foreign country concerned to extradite an individual who is engaged in abduction and who has been formally accused of, charged with, or convicted of an extraditable offense.
The law also—for the first time—urges the Administration to enter into Memorandums of Understanding or other bilateral agreements with non-Hague Convention countries to locate and foster the return of abducted children and protect the access of the left-behind parent to the child. In order to ensure better accountability of the Administration and to warn U.S. judges who may allow a child to visit a country from which return is difficult, the bill significantly enhances reporting on country-by-country performance.
The act also requires the Administration to inform Members of Congress about abducted children from their districts. It also that directs the Secretary of Defense shall designate an official within the Department of Defense to coordinate with the Department of State on international child abduction issues and “oversee activities designed to prevent or resolve international child abduction cases relating to active duty military service members.”
At a hearing convened today by a congressional panel that oversees global human rights issues, Chairman Chris Smith (NJ-04) and other lawmakers examined the mounting risks to European Jewish communities and the actions that countries – including the United States – should take to address the threats faced by their Jewish citizens.
“Once again, like the 1930s, European Jews live in fear,” testified Ambassador Ronald S. Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress. “In my travels to all of these communities, I am asked the same question around Europe and the world: Where is the United States? Why isn’t the United States leading the world in this crisis?” Click here to read Chairman Smith’s opening statement. To watch a video of Chairman Smith’s remarks, click here.
“For the first time since the Holocaust, the physical security of Jewish communities in Europe has become a top-level concern,” said Smith, who chairs the panel which held the hearing, the Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations subcommittee, which called the hearing. “This is the horrifying state of affairs,” he said.
“For too long, far too government officials, many of them mired in what Natan Sharansky summarized as the application of double standards and demonization of Israel, have reacted weakly to this danger,” Smith said. “In some countries, progress has indeed been made...but it has not been enough to reverse the new anti-Semitism in Europe, and failed miserably to anticipate and prevent the arrival of jihadist anti-Semitism.
“We are here today … to review, re-commit, and re-energize efforts to stop the evil anti-Semitic violence that is threatening the Jewish communities of Europe,” concluded Smith, who also chairs the Commission for Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the U.S. Helsinki Commission.
“The number of anti-Jewish attacks in France in 2014 doubled from the year before. In Great Britain, the number of anti-Semitic attacks doubled from the year before. In Austria, anti-Semitic attacks doubled from the year before,” said Lauder, who served as the U.S. Ambassador to Austria during the Reagan Administration. Click here to read Lauder’s remarks.
Rep. Smith was joined on the panel at the hearing by subcommittee member Rep. Mark Meadows (NC-11), who said, “The recent rise in violent anti-Semitic attacks is gravely concerning and must be addressed by the international community. Ensuring that Jewish communities throughout Europe and the rest of the world are safe is critically important. We haven’t seen this degree of anti-Semitism since World War II, and it demands a robust response. I’m grateful to Chairman Chris Smith for his leadership on this issue.”
Additional testifimony at the hearing, “After Paris and Copenhagen: Responding to the Rising Tide of Anti-Semitism,” includedtestimony from Roger Cukierman, president of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions of France, and testimony from Dan Rosenberg Asmussen, president of the Danish Jewish Community. The testimony of all three witnesses focused on the crucial role of the U.S. and other participating States of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in battling anti-Semitism and called for strong American leadership.
“This hearing will examine the State Department’s overall implementation of the “Sean and David Goldman Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act,” enacted in 2014, and whether the new tools the law provides are being aggressively used to resolve previous abductions to countries such as India, Japan–where many of the parental victims are U.S. servicemembers– and Brazil,” said Smith, who traveled repeatedly to bring back Sean Goldman, then 9, back to the U.S. in 2009 after a five-year abduction to Brazil, and author of the bill. “These are American children and they need to come home to be with their lawful custodial parents.”
WHAT: Congressional hearing entitled “The Goldman Act to Return Abducted American Children: Reviewing Obama Administration Implementation?”
WHO: Smith, members of the Subcommittee on global human rights, and witnesses from the U.S. State Dept. and ‘Left-Behind’ parents:
Ambassador Susan S. Jacobs, Special Advisor for Children's Issues in the Bureau of Consular Affairs at the U.S. Department of State
Jeffery Morehouse, Executive Director of Bring Abducted Children Home, or BAC Home (Washington State Father of Abducted Child to Japan)
Bindu Philips, (New Jersey Mother of Abducted Children to India)
Deven Davenport (North Carolina Father of Abducted Children to Brazil)
WHEN: Wednesday, March 25 at 2 p.m.
WHERE: Room 2172 in the Rayburn House Office Building (first floor).
2373 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
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.