Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04) and over 75 Members of Congress have filed a comment letter with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) opposing the abortion aspects of the proposed rule on “HHS Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters for 2016” for the Obamacare marketplace.
Specifically the lawmakers object to the rule’s section on “Segregation of Funds for Abortion Services,” which they say ensures that the abortion surcharge (required for all Exchange plans that cover abortion) will remain hidden from consumers.
In their letter they note “… it is essential that the administration at least follow the minimal statutory requirements related to the accounting gimmick, often referred to as the Nelson amendment. Unfortunately, the proposed rule does the opposite by actually telling issuers how to avoid the requirements outlined in the ACA…under the proposed rule, the surcharge is not billed separately and will likely be all but invisible to the consumer. The text of the law and the legislative history is clear. The abortion surcharge must be a separate payment.”
The comment period on the proposed rule closes December 22.
“The Obama Administration’s cover-up of abortion insurance plans on the exchange is unnecessary, unacceptable and absolutely unconscionable,” said Smith co-chair of the Bipartisan Congressional Pro-Life Caucus. “Consumers have a right to know. Abortion is not healthcare – it dismembers and chemically poisons defenseless unborn children and hurts women.
“President Obama’s solemn promise not fund abortion on demand continues to be broken with impunity. For 2014 the GAO found that over 1000 plans included abortion on demand. Research by ObamacareAbortion.com has shown that for 2015 abortion coverage continues, and once again health consumers are left almost clueless as to which plans fund abortion on demand and which do not. Furthermore, no information about the abortion surcharge is provided to consumers while shopping for Obamacare coverage.”
“It is a shame that the administration that claims to be the most transparent in history has failed to provide this basic information to consumers—despite multiple inquires by Congress in the past. The language in the explanatory statement of the recently-passed “CRomnibus” spending bill is a modest step in the right direction by calling on Secretary Burwell to ensure “full transparency” to consumers “prior to plan purchase” and requires a timeline for clarifying guidance to be submitted within 30 days.
“I hope this language will finally motivate the administration to take action to provide total and complete transparency regarding abortion coverage and the abortion surcharge. If they do not, it will be incumbent on Congress to take further action in the coming year. When the new Congress convenes in January I will reintroduce the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and the Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act to remove abortion from Obamacare and ensure transparency in the interim.”
The news of President Obama’s decision to embrace the Castro regime after decades of human rights abuses, including the harboring of fugitives and stymieing U.S. government efforts to extradite Joanne Chesimard, the convicted murderer of New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster and other fugitives, is disappointing in light of the long record of human rights violations of Fidel Castro and Raul Castro, U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04) said today.
“While we all welcome the return of Alan Gross to his family and to freedom, it is outrageous that President Obama chose to link the despicable jailing and long-delayed release of this humanitarian with a trade for three spies convicted of espionage against the United States, including Gerardo Hernandez, who also conspired to commit murder,” said Smith, chairman of the House panel that oversees international global human rights. “Additionally, the President has announced plans to normalize relations with the Cuban dictatorship while he ignores the fact that the Castro brothers continue to harbor convicted cop-killer Joanne Chesimard, a murderer who gunned down New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster in cold blood, shooting him twice in the head while he lay on the ground wounded.
“The Obama Administration’s capitulation to the Castro brothers’ tyranny, as in the case of Bowe Bergdahl, once again sends a most dangerous message to terrorists around the world: if you take an American hostage, we will release dangerous criminals, be they spies like the Cuban Five, or Taliban jihadists.
“Rather than bringing the Cuban people closer to democracy and freedom, by pandering to the Castro brothers, Obama allows them to strengthen their grip on the Cuban people.
“Just as with countries like China, President Obama continues to demonstrate a pattern of indifference to, and gross enabling of, human rights abuses. The Castro brothers should be tried at The Hague for their brutal crimes against humanity—including mass murder, torture and unjust incarceration.”
Smith and Rep. Albio Sires (NJ-08) unveiled the“Walter Patterson and Werner Foerster Justice and Extradition Act” (H.R. 3585) in 2013. The bill, sponsored by Smith, would require the executive branch to report to Congress on the number of fugitives in Cuba and other countries which our government is seeking to extradite, the efforts it has undertaken to secure their return, how often it is successful, and factors that have prevented their return. The information would allow Congress to evaluate and strengthen the executive branch’s efforts to extradite fugitives.
The bill is also named after Walter Patterson who was also brutally murdered by a killer who had been convicted, escaped prison and simply moved abroad beyond the reach of U.S. justice.
For years Smith has been active in advocating for Cuban political prisoners, including Dr. Óscar Elías Biscet, M.D., a courageous human rights advocate who has spent over 11 years in jail. Biscet testified via telephone at a hearing chaired by Smith in 2012. Smith nominated Biscet for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2008 and again in 2011, when he led an international movement nominating him. Shortly after the nominations were made, Biscet was released. He remains in Cuba, today. It was reported he was beaten and shortly detained earlier this year.
U.S. Rep. Chris Smith on Tuesday was named grand marshal of the 30th annual Hamilton St. Patrick's Day Parade.
"I'm honored and humbled to be a grand marshal," Smith (R-4th Dist.) said on Tuesday. "I look forward to marching with you and celebrating our Irish heritage. It's a tremendous culture that we celebrate, and a saint who is second to none."
Smith was selected to lead this year's parade, scheduled for March 14 at 1 p.m., because of his legislative work scheduling hearings and markups on human rights abuses in northern Ireland since the mid-1990s, parade organizers said.
Smith, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations, said it was Irish-American communities in the 4th District, which includes Hamilton and Robbinsville, that prompted him to push for peace in Northern Ireland.
"In many cases, our hearings were carried live in the republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland to tell this story that had to be told," Smith said. "We made a difference, but you made a difference. You provided the guidance and the sense of where to go on these very important issues."
Since the Good Friday Agreement, which outlined peace in Northern Ireland, was signed in 1998, Smith has continued trying to hold accountable those who committed violence during the 30-year conflict, said Sean Pender, a past president of the Trenton Ancient Order of Hibernians and director of the national organization.
"As he continues to shine a light on what needs to be done in the north of Ireland to fully implement the Good Friday Agreement, Congressman Smith continues to push to have all signatories of the agreement live up to their obligations, especially our friends in the British government," Pender said. "I can think of no better person suited to lead us in the St. Patrick's Day Parade than Chris Smith, a tireless advocate of peace, truth and justice in Ireland."
Smith joins a long line of Hamilton politicians and Irish-American community leaders to have served as grand marshal of the township's St. Patrick's Day Parade, including Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo (D-Hamilton), former mayors Jack Rafferty and John Bencivengo, current Trenton AOH president Vince McKelvey and Pender himself.
Smith said the work of St. Patrick -- a Catholic missionary who brought the faith to Ireland -- continues to ring true. Smith said he met Irish missionaries in Nigeria, where he visited earlier this year as part of U.S. partnership with that country to combat the Boko Haram terrorist group.
"Everywhere I go, Irish priests are doing missionary work," Smith said. "They're everywhere and have made a huge difference, and it all came out of the preaching of St. Patrick."
Most recently, Smith's role with the House Foreign Affairs health and human rights subcommittee came into play when a four-year-old Hamilton boy died of enterovirus-68, the first in the country whose death was directly attributed to the virus.
Smith helped expedite lab results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, turning a timeline of months into 72 hours, Mayor Kelly Yaede said.
"Our Congressman cleared his schedule and came into an elementary school in Hamilton Township to provide information and literature," Yaede said. "He left no stone unturned and was part of a team that got Hamilton through a very dark day."The original story can be found at: http://www.nj.com/mercer/index.ssf/2014/12/us_rep_chris_smith_named_grand_marshal_of_30th_annual_hamilton_st_patricks_day_parade.html
But did the commander-in-chief inside the presidential jet notice?
President Obama in his speech at the Joint Base Monday did not mention the planes, refueling tankers that the Department of Defense has considered retiring.
But jobs connected to the retirement of the KC-10 — and its impact on the mission of the base — are what's on the mind of many people here.
The refueling tanker means much to the base — half of them are stationed here. The jets and thousands of local jobs they support are caught in a squeeze between tightening budgets and the time lapse for bringing on the Air Force's next-generation tankers, base advocates say
Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J, wrote a letter to the president Friday, pushing to keep the tankers at the Joint Base.
"Eliminating the KC-10s would have a detrimental impact on the installation you will visit on Monday and serious negative consequences for the strategic capabilities of our military around the world," Smith wrote. "Accordingly, I am hopeful that you will seek a firsthand look at the capabilities of the KC-10 given the opportunity your visit presents and take this damaging proposal off the table as you draft the final FY 2016 budget request."
The joint base supports some 44,000 jobs and pumps about $6.9 billion into New Jersey's economy annually. What concerns Smith and others is that if the KC-10 is retired, it could negatively impact the base's air mobility and refueling mission.
Smith said that leading up to the release of the FY15 budget, Air Force and Department of Defense officials signaled the administration's intent to phase out the KC-10s. The tanker escaped the budget axe then, but Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said the department would continue to review the retiring of the KC-10 in future budget years.
For Obama, the visit to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst provided an opportunity for the president to formally thank three branches of the military simultaneously at a time when the war in Afghanistan is drawing to a close, said pollster Patrick Murray. The U.S. and NATO ceremoniously ended the 13-year combat mission in Afghanistan last week by lowering the flag at NATO's combat command center there.
President Obama holds up a stuffed bear that N.J. Gov. Chris Christie, not shown, had won in a game on the boardwalk during their visit to Point Pleasant, N.J., May 28, 2013. (Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AP)
Obama went to the boardwalk May 28, 2013, and Gov. Chris Christie went with him, in a visit was meant to spur the Shore economy as the summer approached. Christie beat Obama in an arcade game where participants spiral a football through a swinging tire. Despite an 0-5 performance, Obama walked away with a teddy bear wearing a Chicago Bears sweatshirt.
The president was due to return this past October for a Democratic fundraiser. But that trip was canceled so he could speak to cabinet members about the response to the Ebola virus outbreak.
A year and a half after the Shore visit, Obama arrived at a time when New Jersey is still recovering from the storm and still struggling economically — especially with regard to job creation.
Christie is trying to recast his image as a bipartisan politician who can get thing done that he cast during the heady post-Sandy days, trying to recapture that moment that's known as the "Obama hug" — when Obama visited New Jersey after the storm. Bridgegate interrupted Christie's stride.
"He's trying to make that his calling card again," said Murray, the director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.
And the KC-10 could matter. The further loss of jobs in New Jersey would not help him.
There was no actual hug at the Joint Base Monday. But the two men shared what appeared to be a laugh as Obama stepped down from the plane. And they shared a ride in the motorcade to the hangar where Obama gave his speech.
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In a letter sent Friday to Obama, Smith (R-4th Dist.) said the “misguided proposal” of phasing out KC-10 aircraft without another model ready to take their place would be a “tremendous risk” to the Air Force.
He said two of the three active-duty flying squadrons on the base use KC-10s, which refuel other aircraft while in flight. and that eliminating those 32 aircraft from the military’s fleet at this time would greatly hamper missions.
Production of the KC-46s — the replacement for the KC-10 — most likely would be delayed, leaving the military with too few refueling options, Smith said. Those aircraft, in production by Boeing, are not expected to be available until at least 2017.
Smith noted that while the KC-10 is capable of refueling any aircraft, the only aircraft that would be left in service at the base — the KC-135 — is not as adaptable.
“Eliminating the KC-10s would have a detrimental impact on the installation you will visit on Monday and serious negative consequences for the strategic capabilities of our military around the world,” Smith wrote in his two-page letter.
Talk of retiring the KC-10s first surfaced for the FY15 budget but the fleet was not touched in that budget. However, the aircraft is being considered again to be eliminated from next year’s budget. Smith, as well as military leaders in New Jersey, are concerned that would signal the start of the decommissioning of the base, which survived the Department of Defense’s most recent base closure plan in 2005.
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U.S. Representatives Chris Smith (NJ-04) and Maxine Waters (CA-43), House co-Chairs of the Bipartisan, Bicameral Task Force on Alzheimer's Disease, wrote a letter to the President this week asking for additional federal resources to be directed to fighting Alzheimer’s in the Administration’s upcoming 2016 budget.
“We believe that an increase in resources for Alzheimer’s research is both necessary and a smart investment that will lower future government spending,” the letter stated. “Similar investments in research for other diseases have yielded tremendous results: patients have access to new treatments, and death rates are decreasing. At the same time, mortality due to Alzheimer’s is escalating dramatically, and it is unique among the top ten causes of death in that it cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed. That said, there is promising research in the pipeline that holds great hope for Alzheimer’s patients and their families. The research community is poised to make important contributions toward the treatment of this disease through clinical trials and by investigating new therapeutic targets if adequate resources are available.
"For these reasons, we urge you to call for an additional $200 million in Alzheimer’s research in the coming fiscal year and work with us to develop a plan to meet our ultimate goal of a $2 billion annual investment within the next five years.” (Click here to read the letter)
Alzheimer’s is costing Americans more than $200 billion a year, yet the federal government is spending less than three tenths of one percent of that amount (an estimated $566 million in 2014) on research, far less than other deadly diseases. The Omnibus Appropriations bill for FY2014 did provide a $100 million increase at the National Institute of Aging to enhance Alzheimer’s research, but the Advisory Council established by the 2010 National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA, P.L. 111-375)—the House version of which as co-authored by Smith—estimates the government will need to devote $2 billion a year to Alzheimer’s research to reach the goal of preventing and effectively treating Alzheimer’s disease by 2025.
Smith, who also is chairman of the House subcommittee which oversees global health issues, held the first ever congressional hearing examining the global strategies to address Alzheimer’s disease, entitled“Global Strategies to Combat the Devastating Health and Economic Impacts of Alzheimer’s Disease” in 2011, and a second in 2013.
Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States, with a 68 percent increase in deaths caused by Alzheimer’s in the last 10 years. Alzheimer’s disease, a degenerative condition characterized by steadily deteriorating thinking and memory skills, currently has no cure. In New Jersey, an estimated 170,000 Garden State residents suffered from this form of dementia in 2014, and 443,000 caregivers provided unpaid care.
"Feed the Future has become a breakthrough development model that has a potential to leave a lasting legacy for generations to come," said Carolyn Miles, President and CEO of Save the Children. "It has raised the bar on tackling hunger and malnutrition, focusing particularly on the critical 1,000 day period from pregnancy through a child's second birthday. Through this initiative, nutrition becomes the essential bridge between agriculture and health that enables millions of children to reach their full potential."
The vote comes on the heels of the release of the Global Nutrition Report, which provides the first-ever comprehensive narrative and analysis on the state of the world's nutrition. The report highlights the need to confront this urgent crisis that underpins a nation's overall development. The report shows that for every $1 invested in improving nutrition $16 is returned to the economy; a ratio highly competitive with investments in roads, irrigation, and health.
Passage of the Feed the Future bill is a major congressional achievement toward ensuring the U.S. meets its commitment to end preventable child deaths, nearly half of which are caused by malnutrition, and its goal to prevent stunting, an indicator of chronic malnutrition which can be a debilitating life-long sentence, in at least 2 million children by 2017.
Hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition are intrinsically linked. More than three-quarters of the world's hungry depend on agriculture and food production for their livelihoods. Ensuring smart, sustained U.S. investments in small-scale livelihoods, agricultural development and improved nutrition, particularly for women, will reduce hunger and poverty. These investments also will help children survive, thrive and live up to their full potential.
The bill, if passed into law, would essentially solidify the current U.S. initiative known as "Feed the Future," and ensure the program lives on beyond the Obama administration. It also, importantly, supports the vision of theUSAID Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Strategy 2014-2025to achieve long-term success in tackling malnutrition by supporting the development plans of low-resource countries and deepening engagement with all stakeholders, including local communities, governments and private sector leaders. Feed the Future has proven results, including increased crop production for more than 7 million small scale farmers and reaching 12.5 million children with key nutrition programs in 2013 alone.
The bill requires the U.S. government to:
· Develop a food security strategy with specific and measurable goals and targets
· Coordinate expertise from across all relevant federal departments and agencies for a "whole-of-government" approach
· Support country-led agriculture and nutrition investment plans to ensure investments are sustainable
· Focus on nutritional outcomes for women and children, particularly in the first 1,000 day window of opportunity between a woman's pregnancy and her child's second birthday; and
· Put in place strong reporting, oversight and accountability measures.
"Save the Children welcomes the leadership of Reps. Chris Smith and Betty McCollum and the House passage of the Feed the Future Global Food Security Act, and looks forward to continuing our work with Congress and the administration on this important effort for the world's children," said Miles.
Save the Childrengives children in the United States and around the world a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We invest in childhood — every day, in times of crisis and for our future. Follow us onTwitterandFacebook.
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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.