Chris Smith (New Jersey politician)
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Jersey's 4th district
January 3, 1981
|Preceded by||Frank Thompson|
March 4, 1953 |
Rahway, New Jersey, U.S.
|Political party||Democratic (Before 1978)
|Alma mater||College of New Jersey|
Christopher Henry "Chris" Smith (born March 4, 1953) is the U.S. Representative for New Jersey's 4th congressional district, serving since 1981. He is a member of the Republican Party. The district is based in Trenton and includes large portions of central New Jersey. He is currently the dean of the New Jersey congressional delegation.
Early life, education, and early career
Smith grew up in the Iselin neighborhood of Woodbridge Township, New Jersey, worked in his family's sporting goods business, and earned the Eagle Scout award. After graduating with a B.A. from Trenton State College (now The College of New Jersey) in 1975, became executive director of the New Jersey Right to Life Committee in 1976. Originally a Democrat, he switched parties and became a Republican in 1978.
U.S. House of Representatives
In 1978, Smith, at 25 years old and working in a sporting goods store owned by his family, ran for Congress as a Republican. He was defeated by longtime Democratic incumbent U.S. Congressman Frank Thompson 61%-37%. In 1980, he ran again for a rematch. Initially, Smith was thought to have little chance against Thompson, but Thompson was indicted as part of the FBI's Abscam probe. Helped by Ronald Reagan's strong performance in the district, Smith defeated Thompson 57%-41%.
In 1982, Smith faced a difficult race for re-election. He faced Democrat and former New Jersey Senate President Joseph P. Merlino. At the end of one of their debates, Smith approached Merlino to exchange pleasantries. Merlino was quoted as saying "Beat it, kid." Smith won the election with 53% of the vote. Since then, Smith has won re-election with at least 61% of the vote.
Even in a political climate hostile to Republicans across the nation in 2006, Smith won re-election with 66% of the vote, the highest percentage for any Republican in the New Jersey delegation.
Smith faced a challenge from Democrat Joshua M. Zeitz in 2008, who raised far more money than any of Smith's previous opponents. Despite the very difficult political climate for Republicans, Smith won re-election 66%-32%. McCain won the district by a narrower margin as the 4th CD was one of only three he won in the state.
Smith is active in several health care issues, serving as co-chairman of the bipartisan Congressional Alzheimer's Task Force, Coalition for Autism Research and Education, and Congressional Spina Bifida Caucus.
In September 2001, the anthrax letters sent to New York and Washington, D.C. passed through the post office sorting facility in Hamilton Township, just east of Trenton. The facility was closed and some 800,000 pieces of mail delayed. Smith introduced a bill to waive financial penalties for people whose mail was delayed; the banking industry agreed to waive the fees voluntarily.
Smith has worked to raise New Jersey Medicare reimbursement rates to New York City levels. He voted to postpone the 2005 base closing round by two years. For over ten years he has worked to bring in $50 million for the Naval Air Engineering Station Lakehurst. The station, which designs and builds aircraft carrier catapults and arresting gear, was slated to remain open when the Pentagon released its base closing recommendations in May 2005, though it was to lose 186 jobs.
Smith is one of the strongest opponents of abortion in either house of Congress. Smith has worked to stop abortions in military hospitals. He has also worked to reinstate the Ronald Reagan-era restrictions that would deny federal funds to family planning organizations that distribute information about abortions abroad. The ensuing struggle lasted more than two years, with Smith leveraging his opposition to the family planning money to prevent passage of the Clinton administration's high-priority efforts to reorganize the State Department, pay U.S. dues to the United Nations, and provide $18 billion for the International Monetary Fund. Smith finally was forced to yield in the 1998 and 1999 omnibus spending bills, but he won in return White House agreement to restrict support for international abortion education. George W. Bush restored the Mexico City Policy in an executive order in his first full day in office, but it has since been repealed by President Barack Obama.
Smith also was a prime mover of legislation to ban partial-birth abortions; the House voted to override Clinton's vetoes, but Smith's side fell a few votes short of the two-thirds needed in the Senate. In a January 22, 2004, press release, Smith stated, "Americans want the abortion holocaust to end." and referred to abortion as "child slaughter".
Smith has fought not only Democrats but the House Republican leadership on the abortion issue. In July 2002 the bankruptcy bill, strongly backed by the leadership, came out of conference committee; the House had passed it 306–108 in March 2001. But it contained a provision, negotiated by Senator Charles Schumer and longtime abortion opponent Henry Hyde, providing that court judgments or fines could not be wiped out in bankruptcy: Schumer inserted this as a favor to abortion rights groups, after some abortion protesters declared bankruptcy to avoid paying fines. Smith and Joe Pitts led a group of abortion opponents and said they would vote against the bill unless the provision was removed. In November, the leadership brought forward the rule to vote on the bill and Speaker Dennis Hastert took the unusual step of voting for it himself (the Speaker usually does not vote).
Smith and Pitts stood their ground despite furious efforts by Whip Tom DeLay, and the rule went down 243–172, with 87 Republicans voting against. It was only the second rule defeated during Hastert's first four years as speaker, and Hastert called Smith into his office to scold him in January 2003. Smith won a legislative victory in 2004 when a provision stating that state and local governments could not require hospitals and care providers to perform abortions was put in the omnibus appropriation. He continues to push for his legislation, The Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act, which requires doctors to inform pregnant women that some experts say fetus can feel pain after 20 weeks.
Smith serves as Co-chairman of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus.
In 2011, he introduced HR 3, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. The bill contained an exception for "forcible rape," which opponents criticized as potentially excluding drug-facilitated rape, date rape, and other forms of rape. The bill also allowed an exception for minors who are victims of incest, but not other forms of statutory rape, regardless of the age of the victim. This position has been dropped, however, and Chapter 4 Section 309 of HR 3 has been changed to rape and incest of any type due to an amendment by the Committee of the Judiciary in their report to the House.
- Stem cell research
His belief in a "right to life" has also led Smith to oppose both capital punishment and embryonic stem cell research. On the issue of stem cell research, Smith has actively worked to increase research into non-embryonic stem cells. Smith's "Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act of 2005", which provides $265 million for stem cell therapy, umbilical cord blood and bone marrow treatment was signed into law by President George W. Bush in December 2005.
In July 2006, Smith voted to uphold President Bush's veto of legislation that promoted embryonic stem cell research and called for increased investment for cord blood and bone marrow stem cell research.
In 2003, Smith co-sponsored an amendment to renew the Federal Assault Weapons Ban. He was endorsed by the Brady Campaign in 2006 and 2008. In 2008, the Brady Campaign endorsed five Republicans for Congress (The others were Chris Shays, Michael Castle, Mark Kirk, and Peter T. King).
- Human rights
In 2005, Smith was appointed chairman of the House International Relations Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations Subcommittee. Smith also is vice-chairman of the Committee on International Relations and as of 2011 became Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (also known as the United States Helsinki Commission), which works to promote and foster democracy, human rights, and stability in Eastern and Central Europe.
Since being elected to Congress, Smith has also played a key role over the years promoting human rights reforms in the former Soviet Union, Romania, Vietnam, China, Sudan, Cuba, and elsewhere. He wrote the provision of the law that barred the Royal Ulster Constabulary (as the Police Service of Northern Ireland was formerly known) from training in the United States with U.S. law enforcement personnel until it was certified that the police met stringent human rights standards. That certification was issued in December 2001 by President George W. Bush.
One of Smith’s significant legislative achievements is his landmark Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Law, the nations' first law that deals specifically with human trafficking. This law provided government prosecutors with the resources needed to prosecute offenders as well as resources to help victims rebuild their lives.
Smith began investigating and working to end the human trafficking epidemic in the mid-1990s. Trafficking is a $9 billion industry, the third largest source of income for organized crime and the second fastest growing criminal activity in the world, equal with illegal arms sales.
In 2003, a second Smith trafficking law—the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act—took effect and further strengthened his original law. Smith’s original trafficking law also reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act, the most significant law to help protect women who are victims of rape, sexual assault, and domestic violence. Like the trafficking component, the VAWA reauthorization works to ensure prosecution of offenders and help the victims recover.
In January 2006, President George W. Bush signed Smith’s third trafficking law—the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2005, which strengthens the nation’s current trafficking law (which he also authored in 2000), authorizes new funds for investigation and prosecution of domestic trafficking within the United States and to helps the young women and children who are most often the victims of human trafficking operations.
Smith has strongly criticized China for its forced sterilizations and abortions and its persecution of Christians and other religious minorities, and opposed normal trade relations with China. In July 2003, after a provision for $50 million for the United Nations Population Fund passed by one vote in committee, he led the fight against it and it was defeated on the floor 216–211.
Smith has condemned Russia for barring entry of foreign Roman Catholic priests and the Saudis for treating foreign servants as slaves. In 2000 he had the signal success of pushing to passage a bill combating sex trafficking around the world, including a provision opposed by the Clinton administration requiring yearly reports on each nation's record; Clinton signed it anyway. In 2003, he worked to extend it to 2005. Smith has also taken action on the subject—when he heard about Ukrainian girls being held against their will in brothels in Montenegro, he called the Montenegrin prime minister, who ordered a raid on the operation. He has worked to secure grant funding for Project Polaris, a New York-New Jersey group combating sex trafficking.
In 2003 he successfully sponsored a law providing $81 million for centers in the U.S. and abroad to counsel victims of torture. In July 2004 the House passed 323–45 his bill to bar increased aid to Vietnam unless the administration finds substantial progress toward releasing political prisoners and fostering religious freedom and democratic government.
Smith's moral views have led him to take stands unusual for a Republican on domestic issues. In July 2003 he cast a critical vote in committee for Henry Waxman's resolution of approval for future global climate change agreements. In October 2004, he voted against James Sensenbrenner's amendment broadening the category of illegal immigrants subject to immediate deportation.
Smith was a staunch supporter of David Goldman, a New Jersey resident; during the Goldman child abduction case, traveling with him to Brazil, advocating for him in Congress and writing H.R. 2702 to suspend Brazil's Generalized System of Preferences trading benefit, as well as H.R. 3240 the "International Child Abduction Prevention Act of 2009" He has subsequently spoken several times on international child abduction generally and on International child abduction in Japan specifically.
In May 2012, while holed up in the United States Embassy in Beijing, Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng telephoned Smith to seek his advice. Smith suggested that Chen seek to depart China and continue to push for human rights in China from outside the country. After leaving the embassy, and while being treated at a Beijing hospital, he telephoned Smith during a session of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China. Smith spoke with Chen and allowed Chen to make statements and ask questions to those present in the Committee room.
In February 2013, Smith voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act. The extension nonetheless passed in the House of Representatives by a large margin.
- Global Online Freedom Act
Since 2006, Smith has introduced versions of the Global Online Freedom Act to Congress, which is intended to prevent repressive governments from using Internet and information technologies purchased from US companies against their citizens. The most recent version, re-introduced on May 6, 2009, drew bipartisan support from Speaker Nancy Pelosi, as well as the endorsements of Amnesty International, Google, Human Rights Watch, Reporters without Borders, Freedom House, and other human rights and journalist organizations.
In January 2001, Smith became chairman of the Veterans' Affairs Committee and there pushed for policies opposed by the Republican leadership, including voting against the Republican and for the Democratic budget resolution because the latter included more spending on veterans programs, which resulted in his losing the chairmanship in January 2005, two years short of the normal six-year term. In his four years, Smith's committee passed veterans bills that increased Veterans Affairs disability payments by $2.5 billion, increased G.I. Bill of Rights spending 46%, authorized $1 billion in aid to homeless veterans, and added $100 million in health care benefits for surviving spouses of veterans. Smith's 2004 bill increased from 18 to 24 months the coverage of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Act, set up a pilot program for recruitment of nurses, and authorized a new research center of veterans with multi-trauma combat injuries.
Veterans Laws Authored by Smith include one providing a record 46 percent increase in the GI Bill, which helps veterans pay for college. The increase is the largest ever since the GI Bill went into effect following World War II.
Smith also wrote the nation's first law that addresses and combats the plague of chronic homelessness among veterans. The Homeless Veterans Comprehensive Assistance Act authorizes $1 billion in programs to help veterans find and retain jobs and provides them with housing, counseling, and medical care they need to rebuild their lives.
For three years, the Appropriations Committee explicitly forbade spending on Smith's four research centers to develop responses to chemical, biological and radiological attacks. In early 2003, Smith called for making veterans benefits an entitlement—mandatory spending that would not have to go through Appropriations. GOP leadership opposed and there were threats he'd lose the chair. In 2003, he voted for the Republican budget resolution that included a $1.8 billion increase in veterans spending, but in July 2003, appropriators did not include the money; Smith opposed that but disappointed Democrats by not voting against the vote sending the measure to the floor.
Smith did not expect a challenge for the chair when Congress convened in 2005. But Steve Buyer, the fourth ranking Republican on the committee, asked for an interview with the Republican Steering Committee, and on January 5, 2005, it voted to make him chairman. That decision was ratified by the Republican Conference on January 6—Smith was off the committee altogether. He was obviously disappointed. "I don't look at power as something to hold. I see the power of the gavel as a strategic opportunity to do good, to use it in every way to help veterans," he said in his speech to the Conference. New Jersey Republicans expressed dismay, and New Jersey Democrats and the leaders of just about every veterans group expressed outrage.
- Committee on Foreign Affairs
- Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (Co-Chairman)
- Caucus memberships
- Co-Chairman of the Bipartisan, Bicameral Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer's Disease
- Co-Chairman of the Coalition for Autism Research and Education
- Co-Chairman of the Congressional Caucus on Bosnia
- Co-Chairman of the Congressional Caucus on Human Trafficking
- Co-Chairman of the Congressional Caucus on Uganda
- Co-Chairman of the Congressional Caucus on Vietnam
- Co-Chairman of the Congressional Lyme Disease Caucus
- Co-Chairman of the Congressional Poland Caucus
- Co-Chairman of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus
- International Conservation Caucus
- Co-Chairman of the Spina Bifida Caucus
- Congressional Cuba Democracy Caucus
- Congressional COPD Caucus
|Year||Republican||Votes||%||Democratic||Votes||%||Third Party||Party||Votes||%||Third Party||Party||Votes||%|
|1980||Chris Smith||95,447||57%||Frank Thompson (Inc)||68,480||41%||Jack Moyers||Libertarian||2,801||2%||Paul Rizzo||No Slogan||1,776||1%|
|1982||Chris Smith||85,660||53%||Joseph Merlino||75,658||47%||Bill Harris||Libertarian||662||0%||Paul Rizzo||No Slogan||374||0%||*|
|1984||Chris Smith||139,295||61%||James Hedden||87,908||39%|
|1986||Chris Smith||78,699||61%||Jeffrey Laurentini||49,290||38%||Earl Dickey||Stop Financing Communism||789||1%|
|1988||Chris Smith||155,283||66%||Betty Holland||79,006||33%||Judson Carter||Independent||1,114||0%||Daniel Maiullo||Libertarian||791||1%|
|1990||Chris Smith||99,920||63%||Mark Setaro||54,961||35%||Carl Peters||Libertarian||2,178||1%||Joseph Notarangelo||Populist||1,206||1%||*|
|1992||Chris Smith||149,095||62%||Brian Hughes||84,514||35%||Benjamin Grindlinger||Libertarian||2,984||1%||Patrick Pasculi||Independent||2,137||1%||*|
|1994||Chris Smith||109,818||68%||Ralph Walsh||49,537||31%||Leonard Marshall||Conservative||1,579||1%||Arnold Kokans||Natural Law||833||1%|
|1996||Chris Smith||146,404||64%||Kevin Meara||77,565||34%||Robert Figueroa||Independent||3,000||1%||J. Morgan Strong||Independent||2,034||1%||*|
|1998||Chris Smith||92,991||62%||Larry Schneider||52,281||35%||Keith Quarles||Independent||1,753||1%||Morgan Strong||Independent||1,495||1%||*|
|2000||Chris Smith||158,515||63%||Reed Gusciora||87,956||35%||Stuart Chaifetz||Independent||3,627||1%||Paul Teel||Independent||712||0%|
|2002||Chris Smith||115,293||66%||Mary Brennan||55,967||32%||Keith Quarles||Libertarian||1,211||1%||Hermann Winkelmann||Honesty, Humanity, Duty||1,063||1%||*|
|2004||Chris Smith||192,671||67%||Amy Vasquez||92,826||32%||Richard Edgar||Libertarian||2,056||1%|
|2006||Chris Smith||124,482||66%||Carol Gay||62,902||33%||Richard Edgar||Libertarian||1,539||1%||Louis Wary||Remove Medical Negligence||614||0%|
|2008||Chris Smith||202,972||66%||Joshua Zeitz||100,036||32%||Steven Welzer||Green||3,543||1%|
|2010||Chris Smith||129,752||69%||Howard Kleinhendler||52,118||28%||Joe Siano||Libertarian||2,912||2%||Steven Welzer||Green||1,574||1%||*|
|2012||Chris Smith||195,146||64%||Brian Froelich||107,992||35%||Leonard Marshall||No Slogan||3,111||1%|
- In elections marked with an asterisk (*), additional candidates received less than 1% of the vote.
Smith is a resident of Robbinsville Township (formerly Washington Township) in Mercer County, New Jersey. He lives with his wife, with whom he has four grown children.
- Gruson, Lindsey. "Decade of Rep. Smith: Fluke to Tactician", The New York Times, August 10, 1991. Accessed March 28, 2008. "He switched parties but lost in 1978 as the token opposition to Frank Thompson, a veteran Democrat who was chairman of the House Administration Committee. But he won in 1980, when Mr. Thompson was convicted of bribery and conspiracy in the Abscam scandal and later served two years in prison."
- NJ District 4 - 1980 Election, Our Campaigns. Accessed October 6, 2013.
- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R) profile from CQpress.com. Retrieved November 14, 2006.
- Smith, Christopher, Our Campaigns. Accessed October 6, 2013.
- 2006 NJ-04 U.S. House Election Results, CNN.com, November 8, 2006
- "2008 US Congressional Race Results - New Jersey - USATODAY.com". Content.usatoday.com. 2008-11-10. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
- "Rating Group: American Conservative Union 2011 Lifetime Score". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved 1 March 2013.
- McNichol, Dunstan (3 November 2001). "Hamilton office bin contained anthrax". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved 1 March 2013.
- Emanuel, Mike. "Democrats Seek to Lift Ban on Abortions at U.S. Military Hospitals Abroad", Fox News Politics, June 9, 2010. Accessed October 6, 2013. "Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., says military facilities, including all hospitals, should be places of healing and should protect life. 'We will stand firm and I welcome the fight…if they want to bring it. I do believe that there will be an overwhelming vote to keep our military hospitals as nurturing centers not abortion mills,' Smith said."
- http://www.nytimes.com/1997/02/04/opinion/unlock-family-planning-funds.html "Unlock Family Planning Funds"], The New York Times, February 4, 1997. Accessed October 7, 2013. "But Representative Chris Smith, a New Jersey Republican and an outspoken opponent of these programs, wants to offer a separate measure requiring overseas recipients of American money to promise not to perform abortions or give abortion counseling."
- Statement released after the President rescinds "Mexico City Policy" (whitehouse.gov, 1-25-09) http://www.whitehouse.gov/statement-released-after-the-president-rescinds/
- Chris Smith: Silent No More, press release dated January 22, 2004
- "Enact Stupak-Pitts Amendment On Health Care Bill". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved 1 March 2013.
- Full text of House Resolution 3: No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act
- "What is 'forcible rape' exactly?". The Washington Post.
- "Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) Floor Statement in Support of Presidential Veto of Embryonic Stem Cell Research Legislation (HR 810)". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved 1 March 2013.
- "Smith: Federal Funds for Cord Blood Banking, Stem Cell Research Will Save Lives". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved 1 March 2013.
- H.R. 2038, H.R. 3831
- "Grant Will Help Fight Trafficking in NJ". Congressman Chris Smith: News. Retrieved 1 March 2013.
- "Chris Smith public statements on Armenian Genocide". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved 1 March 2013.
- Rep Chris Smith: On Sean Goldman - Justice Delayed Again
- H.R. 2702: To suspend the application of Generalized System of Preferences for Brazil until such time as...
- From China Activist's Flight, a Diplomatic Crisis
- Chen case is another human rights issue for Obama
- Recent Developments and History of the Chen Guangcheng Case
- Sheets, Connor (28 February 2013). "Who Voted Against The 2013 Violence Against Women Act? Congressional Roll Call On Reauthorization Bill". International Business Times. Retrieved 1 March 2013.
-  govtrack.us, accessed 3/21/10
- Google, China Dispute Revives Global Online Freedom Act, www.eweek.com report dated 1/17/10, accessed 3/21/10
-  Amnesty International website, accessed 3/21/10
-  Rep. Chris Smith website, accessed 3/21/10
-  Human Rights Watch website, accessed 3/21/10
-  Reporters without Borders website, accessed 3/21/10
-  Freedom House website, accessed 3/22/10
-  Rep. Chris Smith website, accessed 3/21/10
- "The Dumping of Rep. Chris Smith A hard fall from grace". Philly.com. 12 January 2005. Retrieved 1 March 2013.
- "Office of the House Clerk – Electoral Statistics". Clerk of the United States House of Representatives.
- "Election Results". Federal Election Commission.
- "Official List -- Candidates for House of Representatives For GENERAL ELECTION 11/06/2012 Election". New Jersey Division of Elections. 2013-01-22. Retrieved July 2, 2013.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Chris Smith.|
- Congressman Chris Smith official U.S. House site
- Chris Smith for Congress
- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Biography at Ballotpedia
- Biography at NNDB
- Biography, voting record, and interest group ratings at Project Vote Smart
- Congressional profile at GovTrack
- Congressional profile at OpenCongress
- Congressional profile at Roll Call
- Fact-checking at PolitiFact.com
- Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
- Financial information (federal office) at OpenSecrets.org
- Financial investments (personal) at The Washington Post
- Issue positions and quotes at On the Issues
- Legislation sponsored at The Library of Congress
- Voting record at The Washington Post
- Appearances on C-SPAN programs
- Appearances at the Internet Movie Database
- Collected news and commentary at The Washington Post
|United States House of Representatives|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Jersey's 4th congressional district
|Chairperson of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee
|United States order of precedence (ceremonial)|
|United States Representatives by seniority