Christopher Smith

Christopher Smith


Smith Comments on Reports that Aharon Sofer's Body Found


Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04) issued the following statement today following reports that Aharon Sofer’s body was found:


 “This is an extremely difficult time for his family and friends, and they are in our prayers,” said Smith, who represents Lakewood, N.J., Aharon’s hometown. “I would also like to thank the Israeli government for its assistance in the search.”



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Smith Joins Lakewood, NJ Community in Uniting to Support Search for Missing Student Aharon Sofer


 Amid family, friends and supporters of missing Lakewood student Aharon Sofer, Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04), a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, today said the search for Aharon, missing in Israel since Friday, Aug. 22, continues vigorously in the hopes that he will be found and safely returned to his family.


    “I was assured as late as a few hours ago by our Consul General that they are working closely with Israeli police at all levels of Israeli government to comb the Jerusalem forest,” Smith said. “It’s not all that big an area. I want the family to know that I believe that no stone is being left unturned in the effort, and to know that all of our prayers are for Aharon’s safe return.”


    Smith, who represents Lakewood, led off a local community gathering today that included State Sen. Robert Singer, Ocean County Freeholder Gerry Little, Lakewood Mayor Menache Miller, N.Y. Assemblyman Dov Hikind, Rabbi Yehuda Wicentowski and other officials. Lakewood Committeeman Meir Lichtenstein read a statement from the parents.

    Smith and his staff have spoken to Aharon’s father and uncle both of whom are in Israel to assist and advance the search for Aharon in and around the forest in Jerusalem where he was last seen hiking on Friday. He also met with several of Aharon’s brothers, extended family members and friends in Lakewood. He also met with one of the volunteers who scoured the Jerusalem woods looking for Aharon.


    In addition, Smith sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry Monday urging that the State Department take every action to help in the effort to locate Aharon. Smith, a senior member of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, has been in contact with Secretary Kerry’s chief of staff, David Wade, and other officials who assured him that the Department was “totally committed to assisting Aharon” and his family. Click here to read the Smith letter to Kerry.



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Support for Aharon Sofer


Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04), a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, today expressed his hopes that his constituent, Aharon Sofer, of Lakewood, N.J., missing in Israel since Friday, Aug. 22, will be found and returned to his family, and called for the U.S. State Department to assist in every way possible.

    “I learned about Aharon Sofer over the weekend and became very concerned for his well-being. I immediately sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry Monday urging that the State Department take every action to help in the effort to locate Aharon,” said Smith, a senior member of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee.  “Today, in response, Secretary Kerry’s chief of staff, David Wade, assured me that the Department ‘was totally committed to assisting Aharon and his family,’” Smith said.

    Smith and his staff have spoken to Aharon’s father and uncle both of whom are in Israel to assist and advance the search for Aharon in and around the forest in Jerusalem where he was last seen hiking on Friday.

    “I hold to hope that Aharon will be located and returned to his family safely,” Smith said. “Until that day comes, he and his family are in our prayers, and I will work with the State Department to use all resources available to find him and bring him to safety.”

     Click here to read the Smith letter to Kerry.  



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Neptune City Awarded FEMA Grant


Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04) announced today that the Borough of Neptune City has received an Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) award for nearly $60,000 to purchase critically-needed self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA).

    "This important FEMA grant will help protect firefighters in harm’s way,” said Smith, a long-time member of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus. “Firefighters need the proper equipment to survive in smoke-filled environment. Neptune is an all-volunteer company and its members need this funding to safely do their jobsprotecting the lives, homes and businesses of the people they serve.”

    The funds will be used for the purchase of a dozen sets of SCBA gear. The new equipment will replace older sets that are out of compliance and unreliable.

    The award, for $59,850, comes through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Assistance to Firefighters Grants Operations and Safety Grant Program. It is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in cooperation with the U.S. Fire Administration. The purpose of AFG is to award grants directly to fire departments and non-affiliated Emergency Medical Services organizations (EMS) to protect both the health and safety of the public, and first-responder personnel as well. A competitive process overseen by fire service subject matter experts awards grants to applicants whose requests are aligned with the priorities of the AFG Program. For more about the FY 2013 AFG Program please visit

    This is round 18 of the competitive FY 2013 fire grant announcements. Smith, a member of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus, voted to create the equipment grant program in 2000. Congress created the program to upgrade capabilities of local firefighters to respond to fires and fire-related hazards, such as vehicular accidents.

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


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Obama Still Using Coercion and Massive Fines in Unconscionable Attack on Religious Freedom


Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04) said President Obama has resorted to coercion and massive, punitive fines in a U.S. Health and Human Services announcement made today that targets faith-based hospitals, schools and other organizations which for moral reasons cannot and will not include abortion-causing drugs, sterilization and contraception procedures in their private health insurance plans.

    “Here he goes again. This new ‘notification option’ announced today is really just another highly coercive regulation—a direct, obnoxious, unprecedented government attack on the conscience rights of religious entities and anyone else who for moral reasons cannot and will not include potentially abortion-causing drugs—such as ella—or contraception and sterilization procedures in their private insurance plans,” said Smith, co-chairman of the Bipartisan Congressional Pro-Life Caucus.

     “Rather than protecting the religious freedom and deeply held beliefs of nuns, monks, Christian colleges and charities, today’s announcement just establishes another bogus procedure designed to force people of faith to violate their religious beliefs or face devastating fines of as much as $36,500 per year, per employee,” Smith said.

     “President Obama’s means of coercing compliance—ruinous fines when faith-based organizations refuse to violate their conscience—will impose incalculable harm on millions of children educated in faith-based schools, and the poor, sick, disabled and frail elderly who are served with such compassion and dignity by faith-based entities,” Smith said.

     “President Obama is arrogantly using the coercive power of the state to force faith-based charities, hospitals, and schools to conform to his will at the expense of conscience,” said Smith.

ALSO ANNOUNCED TODAY was a proposal for applying a fake “accommodation” process to family-owned businesses like Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood. “The recent landmark Supreme Court decision exempted companies like Hobby Lobby from the mandate, and this overreach by the Obama Administration is intended only to ensnare family businesses back into the web of the mandate,” Smith said. The current so-called “accommodation” has been flatly rejected by over 120 nonprofit plaintiffs, including Wheaton College and the Little Sisters of the Poor, suing over this application of the mandate.

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Lakewood Airport Receives FAA Grant


Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04) today announced the awarding of a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grant for Lakewood Airport.

    The $84,000 grant will be used to design a new taxiway intended to increase safety.

    The project comes in the wake of a 2013 FAA grant for $220,500 used for the removal of obstructions both on and off airport property that interfered with runway 6/24.

    The new taxiway will be at the end of runway 24.

    “This federal funding slated for Lakewood Airport operations will fund the planning and design of a reconfigured taxiing layout that allow planes to more safely use the facility, which serves as an important compliment to the Lakewood Office Industrial Park,” Smith said.

    The functions of the airport helps foster area economic activity. Located in the heart of Lakewood Township’s Office Industrial Park, the airport is less than 40 minutes flying time from numerous East Coast metropolitan international airports.

    “The new taxiway runway improvements would allow safer and more efficient operations at the Lakewood Airport,” said Smith. Future plans include a hangar project and other enhancements that will make the airport more attractive for retaining pilots and aircraft owners there, and keeping the facility business-friendly for airport users.

    The FAA will oversee the project, which is now in its first phase of design. Lakewood Airport is a general aviation facility.



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<span class="kicker">Page 1 Asbury Park Press Aug. 14 article:</span>New Brick site for veterans health care


Carl LaGrotterria is getting his wish. After years of overcrowding brought on by burgeoning numbers of veterans, the James J. Howard Veterans Clinic will open a new supplemental location in September.

"They want to help their vets, but the staff sometimes is overwhelmed and overworked," said the 66-year-old veteran from Brick. "The phones are ridiculous. You can rarely get through and have to wait for callbacks."

The news comes as the federal Department of Veterans Affairs faces a litany of complaints about patient care, wait times and falsified data, leading to scrutiny by Congress and changes in leadership.

The reason for the overcrowding can be seen in the statistics. The 34,000-square-foot clinic is located in Ocean County, which has the largest number of veterans — more than 43,000 — in New Jersey. That number is 10,000 more than in Burlington County, which has the second-largest group in New Jersey.

Special Series: Veterans returning home

The Brick clinic "was built in 1991. From my understanding, it was established to serve, I believe, 5,000 veterans. We currently have over 11,000 enrolled at this facility," said John Griffith, an associate director in the Veterans Affairs New Jersey Health Care System (VANJHCS).

On any given day, Griffith said, 300 to 500 veterans come through the doors. It adds up to more than 81,000 doctor visits a year. Parking is at a premium, too.

"It's our biggest community-based outpatient clinic ... in New Jersey," he said.

LaGroterria, who has been using the clinic since it opened, said getting a dentist appointment could take up to five weeks, while seeing a doctor could be a wait of about a month.

"The staff is incredibly great. They're just dealing with a huge influx of people in the last few years using that clinic," LaGroterria said. "It's grown beyond belief."

The new facility, located at 1688 Route 88 in Brick, will add 5,000 more square feet. The new outpatient clinic will house physical therapy, prosthetics, optometry and have a shuttle to the East Orange campus, said Sandra Warren, spokeswoman for VANJHCS.

The original facility, nearby at 970 Route 70 in Brick, will maintain its current role, housing the pharmacy, audiology, radiology, dental, mental health care and other services.

The clinic's administration originally had tried to lease additional space a few years ago, but the effort hit a wall.

"The VA was on track to enter into a new lease for a larger Ocean County facility last summer," said U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J. "(But) a policy shift at the Congressional Budget Office put the lease in jeopardy."

Then this year, a scandal hit the Department of Veterans Affairs, when reports surfaced of secret waiting lists to mask long wait times and the deaths of 40 veterans who were waiting for care at a Phoenix Veterans Administration medical facility.

An investigation by the VA Inspector General found the long wait lists were systematic across the country. The scandal forced the resignation of Eric K. Shinseki, the secretary of Veterans Affairs.

"That's been the problem for a long time," said LaGrotteria. "They deserve better than that."

Smith said he found the scandal deeply disturbing. "America's veterans deserve real accountability and a cultural change at the VA," he said.

He called it a "sacred task" to care for the nation's veterans.

LaGroterria is a double-leg amputee above the knee who has been using the VA health care system since 1971, when he stepped on an improvised explosive device, or IED, while on a routine patrol in Chu Lai in the Quang Nam Provence in Vietnam.

"What does IED mean? It means they took a whole bunch of garbage, put it together and added some C-4 Semtex," he said.

LaGroterria was just 20 years old when he learned he would spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair.

"The Veterans Affairs has been good to me," he said. "The VA is probably the foremost (agency) on research and medicinal technique. From that perspective, the quality of care has improved over the years."

Read more Asbury Park Press veteran stories

In response to the scandal, President Barack Obama signed a bill last week that will pump nearly $16 billion into the beleaguered Department of Veterans Affairs. The money will go toward hiring more doctors and staff, and improving facilities. It also will allow for veterans using the VA Healthcare system to seek care from civilian doctors.

Smith was able to the secure $7 million needed for the Brick clinic to expand.

"Our local veterans will soon have access to a new facility, with additional space and services, including more parking, to help insure they receive the care they have earned in a timely manner," he said.

The new facility however, is not a result of the scandal, said a spokesman for Smith's office.

"The case could be made that if there wasn't a scandal the bill would not have passed. But this project was in the works for a couple of years. It would have taken place without the scandal," said Jeff Sagnip, spokesman for the congressman.


43,666 Ocean County

32,059 Monmouth County

Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Adding 5,000 square feet

Some veterans' care would shift to the new satellite facility.

Facility built in 1991

The current building was designed to handle 5,000 veterans.

Serving 11,000 veterans

The clinic is now handling more than twice the number of veterans it was designed to accommodate.

43,666 veterans in Ocean County

That is the largest number of veterans in any county in New Jersey.

Original story ran on Page 1 on Aug. 14, 2014 at:


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Smith: Gao Zhisheng Suffered ‘Unspeakable’ Torture in Prison


As horrid details of the brutal torture and treatment of human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng have recently become known, a human rights leader in the U.S. Congress is urging the Chinese government to immediately allow Gao to come to the United States for medical care.

    “Gao Zhisheng has suffered unspeakable and repeated torture because he has championed freedoms respected worldwide, but hated by China’s leaders,” said U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, co-chairman of the U.S. Commission on China (CECC), and Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs global human rights subcommittee. Gao was released from a Chinese prison on August 7th but remains under de facto “house arrest.”

    “The Administration should be working overtime to help Gao return to the care and comfort of his wife and children,” Smith said.  “They are here in the U.S. and he should be, too.”

    Gao’s family recently reported that he is suffering from acute physical and mental problems related to the torture, malnutrition, and lengthy solitary confinement he experienced in prison. He was reportedly beaten repeatedly, kept in a small, dimly lit cell, denied any human conversation or reading materials, and fed a piece of bread and cabbage once a day. Gao’s family has asked for an immediate medical parole so he can travel to the U.S. for medical treatment. (South China Post article)

    “The life of a dissident in China is brutal and nasty,” Smith saidThe U.S. cannot persist in the fantasy that China’s communist rulers will treat people justly--particularly those who advocate for freedom, liberty and the rule of law. Gao’s freedom should be among the Administration’s top priorities with China.”

    The bipartisan U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China estimates there are over 1,200 known political prisoners suffering in China. (Click on view the CECC’s prisoner information.)

    “More needs to be done for the thousands of other prisoners of conscience in China,” said Smith, who has held more than 45 hearings on human rights abuses in China. “That is why I’ve introduced H.R. 5379 to give the President and Secretary of State tools to deny entry visas or freeze the assets of any Chinese official who tortures and abuses freedom-loving dissidents like Gao Zhisheng. China’s police and government official must know that entry into the U.S., or owning property or sending their children to U.S. schools, is a privilege, not a right.  Those who so brutally denied freedom to Gao Zhisheng, and so many others, should not benefit from our freedoms.”

    Gao’s account of the 50 days of torture he endured while in detention can be foundhere. (click here to read Gao’s biography).

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Two Smith Bills Signed into Law on Same Day


Thousands of American families struggling on very different fronts will received federal support now that President Obama has signed into law two separate bills late Friday, one to help prevent international child abduction and return American children now held overseas, and the other targeting $1.3 billion in federal funds to assist families touched by autism.

    "What a momentous day for thousands of families across America," said Rep. Chris Smith, the author of the Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction and Return Act (H.R. 3212) and the author of the Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research and Support (CARES) Act (H.R. 4631). "While different in scope, these new laws have one, overriding common theme: making the federal government work better for children and families.  

    "Yesterday, if you were a parent whose American child was abducted to a foreign land, the State Department took a step back and quickly outlined the limitations on what it would do to help," Smith said.

    "With the enactment of the ‘Goldman Act’ that policy changes. The State Department gets new tools to effectively engage the fight and work several fronts to get our children back," Smith said.  

    "The Goldman Act works to right the terrible wrong of international child abduction, end the enormous pain and suffering endured by separated children and parents, and force the federal government to act to bring abducted children home," Smith said.  "Left behind parents will now have tangible support and backing from their federal government."

     Smith's Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research and Support Act, The Autism CARES Act, builds on Smith's long established record of assisting the now 1-68 children who have been identified with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). According to the latest CDC data released in March, New Jersey has the highest prevalence rate in the nation, with one in 45 children identified as having ASD.

     "The Autism CARES Act authorizes $1.3 billion over five years to continue the critical pipeline of federal research dollars that are working to identify best practices for early intervention, treatment and care for families touched by autism," said Smith who has authored previous legislation that has helped form the base line of federal autism programs.

     "And the new law, for the first time, tasks the federal government with examining and anticipating needs for autistic adolescents who are 'aging out' of their school-based support and transitioning into adulthood," he said.

     Last month Smith held a congressional hearing that delved into successful corporate programs designed to employ persons with ASD worldwide. He said every year 50,000 youths with autism enter into adulthood and communities that are unprepared to meet their need.  The federal government can and must play a role in identifying new ways to assist people with ASD in our communities.

     Smith said both laws were inspired by the love, work and tenacity of local parents fighting for their children.

     The child abduction law is named after David Goldman and his son Sean of Monmouth County, N.J. who were separated for over five years after an international abduction to Brazil. Smith traveled to Brazil with David Goldman twice to help bring Sean home in 2009. Goldman now works to help other left behind parents reunite with their children.

     “We finally have a national law that has some teeth in it to prevent future abductions and also get immediate action for victim families," said David Goldman. "Just as it had been in my case, many of these families have been suffering  for years  fighting to be reunited with their abducted American children.  This is a terrific result of bipartisan work.  The enactment of this law has been long overdue and is a life boat for these families.”

     Regarding the Autism CARES Act, Smith credited Bobbie and Billy Gallagher of Ocean County, N.J.--the parents of two small children with autism who visited his office 17 years ago.  Using their own extensive research, the Gallaghers demonstrated how far behind the federal research agencies were in their understanding and work on autism.

     “The Gallaghers are pioneers in the effort to find better treatment and interventions for children with autism.  Together with other parents they have been tenacious in their efforts to see this bill passed into law,” Smith said.

     “The laws we have today to help families with autism would not be on the books were it not for them," he said.


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Asbury Park Press: "Smith: NJ health practices would quickly stop Ebola"



     WASHINGTON – New Jersey is prepared to handle Ebola or any other infectious disease that may appear in the state, Republican Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey said Thursday.

     “New Jersey Health Commissioner Mary O’Dowd reiterated to me yesterday that New Jersey hospitals have infection control programs,” Smith said. “They train and are ready to deal with potentially infectious patients that come through their doors.”

     Congress is not in session, but Smith, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on global health, called an emergency hearing before the panel to address the Ebola outbreak.

     Smith spoke shortly after state officials reported that a patient who recently returned from West Africa was being treated at CentraState Hospital in Freehold for flu-like symptoms.  

     “Thankfully, it was not Ebola,” Smith said. “The patient has been released.”

     The recent outbreak of the virus in Africa has killed about 55 percent of its victims, Smith said. The fatality rate ranges from 74 percent in Guinea to 42 percent in Sierra Leone. Symptoms of Ebola include vomiting, diarrhea, stomach and internal and external bleeding.

     The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a level-1 alert on Thursday in response to the Ebola crisis. That’s the highest-level alert the agency has issued since 2009, when it was activated over a flu outbreak.

     During Thursday’s subcommittee hearing, Smith told CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden that New Jersey follows specific CDC protocols on how to manage patients in isolation and protect hospital staff from contracting infectious diseases.

     Smith said the state’s health commissioner told him the U.S. has quarantine stations throughout the country to limit the spread of a disease that may arrive from an airport, such as Newark Liberty International Airport.

     Frieden told lawmakers Ebola can be stopped, but it won’t be easy.

     “We know how to do it,” he said. “It will be a long and hard fight.”

     More than 900 people have died worldwide from the virus. Frieden said the scale of the epidemic in West Africa, which has never before seen an Ebola outbreak, is unprecedented. This epidemic also is unique because many cases have been reported in urban areas, Frieden said.

     The spread of the disease is driven partly by poor infection control in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Guinea, and by inadequate burial techniques, Frieden said.

     Frieden said doctors are “months or years away from significant quantities of either drugs or vaccines,” but the CDC knows how to care for Ebola patients and can use proven public health interventions to keep the virus from spreading. Frieden said he’s confident there will be no large Ebola outbreak in the U.S.

     New Jersey isn’t the only state to experience a false Ebola alarm. There have been five mistaken cases in the U.S., including one found to be malaria and another that turned out to be influenza, Frieden said.

     Smith expressed concern about an Ebola “information gap” that causes patients to resist infection control efforts. Liberian-American Patrick Sawyer, for example, died of Ebola on July 25 in Nigeria because he refused to accept that he was infected, Smith said.

     Smith asked officials from CDC, the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development to consider the “psychological trauma” that isolation has on Ebola patients. Families want to touch and comfort dying relatives, he said, and that can spread the disease.

     Smith touted legislation he’s drafted that would develop sustainable treatment plans for tropical diseases that don’t get much attention. Smith said Ebola fits into this category because it’s caused by a pathogen that disproportionately affects those living in impoverished areas.

     “Ebola had been thought to be limited to isolated areas where it could be contained,” Smith said. “We know now this is no longer true.”

This article was originally printed on August 8, 2014 at:

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Contact Information

2373 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone 202-225-3765
Fax 202-225-7768

Committee Assignments

Foreign Affairs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Frank LoBiondo


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