New Jersey’s District 4 Representative Chris Smith is one of the most religiously motivated in Congress. Throughout his 18-term career, his personal beliefs have guided his legislation to a record of extremism. He’s attempted to outlaw gay marriage many times, restricted reproductive rights at home and abroad, or attempted to inject religion into public schools.
However, his recent legislation—including severe cuts to Planned Parenthood and directing FEMA funds to tax-exempted religious entities—has stalled in Congress. His views have not evolved with the changing times and his legislation is archaic and unpopular, especially with his Blue State constituency.
Rather than admitting defeat, Smith has another plan. Recently, he proposed the elimination of the filibuster, which would permanently lower the required votes to pass his failed legislation from 60 to 50. This is an incredibly short-sighted and destructive plan that would alter Congress forever.
More alarmingly, Smith has cozied up with the Trump administration to implement his failed legislation in undemocratic ways. Smith’s H.R.2405 to give FEMA funds to churches never even came to a vote in the House. Yet early this year, the Trump administration implemented it in new policy rules to FEMA. Similarly, Trump’s HHS recently implemented Smith’s “conscience objection” rules, which allow healthcare workers to refuse services based on their personal beliefs.
Instead of changing Congressional rules and making backroom deals to push his agenda, Chris Smith should engage with his constituents. Then he may realize he no longer speaks for us.
This letter also appeared in the Trentonian.