First elected to Congress at the age of 27, Chris Smith has earned the reputation of a courageous advocate for the people, the go-to-guy, and a “bulldog” for his tenacity in seeing a cause through. He is a trusted leader providing more than 30 years of indefatigable service to the residents of New Jersey’s Fourth Congressional District.
According to data gathered at congressional watchdog organization GovTrack.us, which monitors lawmaking performance over the past two decades, Congressman Chris Smith is fourth out of all 435 members of the House of Representatives in authoring bills that have been successfully enacted into law, a clear indication of Chris Smith’s legislative skill and ability to get things done.
In their detailed profiles of Members of Congress, Politics in America 2010, the independent periodical Congressional Quarterly said: “His willingness to regularly devote 12-hour days to his work, one of the House’s most effective constituent-service centers and a reputation untarnished by scandal have kept him popular in a solidly Democratic state.”
Chris has written laws to enhance veterans’ health care and education, combat human trafficking, help autistic children and others suffering disability, promote human rights here and abroad, create new benefits and support for caregivers of those with Alzheimer’s disease, establish a nationwide cord blood stem cell bank so adult stem cells can be used to cure and treat patients, and more.
The people of central New Jersey know Chris’ record of legislative accomplishment and constituent service and have responded positively. In 2008, even after his district saw a spike of 60,000 newly registered Democratic voters, Chris, a Republican, was re-elected in a landslide with 66% of the vote.
In April 2010, New Jersey Monthly Magazine selected Chris Smith for its “Best of New Jersey” edition, highlighting his comprehensive legislative record, detailing his work reuniting a father and son separated by international child abduction, and stating: “His can-do attitude often sets Smith apart from his colleagues in gridlocked D.C.”
As Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, Chris authored numerous laws that have significantly improved life for our nation's service men and women. His leadership earned him the title “Veterans’ Best Advocate” from the Asbury Park Press, as well as the most prestigious honors from all of our nation’s leading veterans’ service organizations, including the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled Veterans of America, and AMVETS.
As the leader of key international relations panels and subcommittees, he has been at the forefront of our nation’s foreign policy battles for almost 30 years, including efforts to promote human rights and democracy, enhance national security, combat global terrorism, and stop the evils of slavery and anti-Semitism once and for all. In early 2010, the Times of Trenton saluted Smith, noting his “hands-on advocacy” in consistently helping US citizens forced to negotiate a thicket of international laws, and said Chris Smith, “has championed the rights of individuals caught in a vortex of foreign laws and lawlessness.”
As part of his health care agenda, Chris is the founding co-chair of the bipartisan Alzheimer’s Caucus, the Autism Caucus, Spina Bifida Caucus, the Lyme Disease Caucus, and the Pro-life Caucus. Landmark examples of the nearly three dozen laws authored by Congressman Chris Smith include:
- The Veterans Education and Benefits Expansion Act (the GI Expansion Bill, Public Law 107-103) which increased the federal government’s commitment to the GI college education benefits program by 60% since its enactment in 2001. By increasing the federal contribution and commitment to the GI Bill, this Smith law made the GI college benefit more valuable. Utilization rates skyrocketed and more vets were able to afford to go to college.
- The creation of Centers of Excellence to help researchers obtain a better understanding of autism, a tragic condition that right now affects about 1 in every 110 American children. As a result of this law and the formation of the Congressional Autism Caucus founded and led by Chris, the federal government's investment into autism treatment measures has increased significantly.
- The landmark Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 (PL 106-386) and two additional US laws to combat violence against women and children both at home and abroad. Through Chris’s leadership, national and international attention and resources have been applied to the scourge that is human trafficking, modern-day slavery in which women and children are abducted and forced into lives of forced labor and prostitution.
- The first-ever law to focus explicitly on the plight of chronic homelessness among veterans, the Homeless Veterans Comprehensive Assistance Act (PL 107-95). Thanks to Chris’s law, servicemen and women who have fallen on hard times have access to critical services like job training, expanded access to healthcare, temporary housing, and more that they need to rebuild their lives.
- America’s Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act of 2005 (PL 109-129) establishing a $265 million nationwide network to expand the use of cord blood and bone marrow to produce non-controversial adult stem cells for therapies, research and cures. Cord blood stem cells are already successfully treating more than 67 diseases including Leukemia and Sickle Cell Anemia. The infusion of federal funds made possible by Smith’s law is making this medical miracle available to thousands more and ensuring that ethical research continues.
Chris continues to fight for enactment of other important, comprehensive legislation he has authored including: (1) The International Megan’s Law, which seeks to expand to the international community the benefits of notification found in our state and national Megan's Laws so that children here and overseas will be further protected from child sex offenders; (2) The Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases Prevention, Education, and Research Act, to enhance federal support for prevention, detection and treatment of Lyme Disease as NJ ranks third in the nation for prevalence of Lyme Disease over the last decade; and (3) The International Child Abduction Prevention Act, legislation aimed at assisting the nearly 2,000 American parents who have been left behind after their child has been abducted to a foreign country.
In addition to a record of success as a lawmaker, Chris has fought for the constituents of New Jersey’s Fourth District. He has consistently voted to cut taxes, control reckless spending and has worked to foster better economic opportunities and sustainable jobs.
When Navy Lakehurst — Ocean County’s largest employer — was slated for closure, Chris led a community effort to not only keep the base open, but to develop it into a much stronger and indispensable military installation. Thanks to Chris’s efforts, more than $125 million, above and beyond regular operating funds, has flowed to the base for new facilities and enhanced missions in recent years.
Chris also worked directly with the Veterans Administration successfully urging them to establish a VA acquisition center in Monmouth County which will initially create 250 local high-tech jobs and likely create hundreds more.
When the Anthrax crisis struck our district, Chris pushed federal health officials to do broader testing that unearthed additional contamination, and fought to ensure the Hamilton Post Office was thoroughly cleaned and reopened.
As Dean of New Jersey’s Congressional delegation, Chris has led efforts to ensure New Jersey receives its fair share of Homeland Security dollars; he won needed federal funding for a NJ Civil Support Team to deploy rapidly and assist local first responders, and successfully fought for a change in Medicare policy to bring much-needed funding to our state’s hospitals in danger of closing.
Working closely with the federal officials at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Chris succeeded in bringing the first ever federally supported Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) to the State of New Jersey. The Living Independently for Elders (LIFE) program, run by St. Francis Medical Center, now enables nursing-home eligible seniors to obtain all inclusive, customized, quality medical services, nutritional and pharmaceutical assistance and other care they desperately need without having to move to a nursing home.
Smith was also the driving force behind the establishment of three much-needed veterans’ community-based outpatient clinics in Brick, Ft. Monmouth, and in Trenton, while also working to expand services at the veterans’ clinic at Ft. Dix.
Most recently, Smith led the successful fight prompting the Navy to reverse its original plans to open housing on the Earle Naval Weapons Station and grant unfettered access to renters who could not be vetted for security reasons. The now defeated proposal not only threatened the safety and security at the base and Monmouth communities surrounding Earle, but it also posed significant transportation, educational and environment problems for citizens in the area.
Perhaps most importantly, leaving no stone unturned, Chris Smith has been the reliable first call for individual constituents experiencing various problems with government agencies. Occasionally, these interventions make headlines — David Goldman’s fight to reclaim his son from a child abductor in Brazil; the successful return of the little NJ girls trapped behind enemy lines in the midst of fighting in the former Soviet state of Georgia; or the garnering of appropriate recognition, compensation and benefits for a hero disabled in war — but most of the time his interventions are known only to those who benefit. To date, Chris and his staff have intervened directly in more than 80,000 individual casework problems that constituents have experienced with federal, state or local government agencies–advocating consistently and privately for the best possible outcome.
About Chris’s constituent service operation, the Times of Trenton has said “Few in Congress work harder than this representative and there must be few who do a better job of delivering services to their constituents.”
Chris Smith is a graduate of The College of New Jersey (then Trenton State College). He and his wife Marie have four grown children and two grandchildren.