Karcher Objects To Smith Ouster From House Veterans’ Affairs Committee

State Senator Says New Jersey and The Nation Lose Strong Voice for Vets’ Benefits

TRENTON – State Senator Ellen Karcher, D-Monmouth and Mercer, issued the following statement regarding the removal of Rep. Chris Smith, R-Mercer, Monmouth, Burlington and Ocean, from the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee by Republican Congressional leaders for not toeing the party line regarding veterans’ benefits, organized labor and the environment:

“Chris Smith and I have our differences in many policy areas, but one thing that I’ve never doubted is his commitment to helping veterans receive the benefits that they rightly deserve.

“In his tenure in the House, Rep. Smith has demonstrated independence and willingness to go against his party and has emerged as a strong voice, nationwide, in the ongoing battle to secure veterans benefits. He is now being penalized by GOP leadership for pushing increased homeland security funding for the Garden State, and its residents, and working to ensure our veterans, who put their lives on the line for us daily, get the benefits they deserve.

“Apparently the message from the Republican leadership is that no good deed goes unpunished.

“In this critical time of international strife, our troops overseas need to know that they have advocates back home who are fighting to ensure they have the rights, benefits and honors to which they are entitled when they return.

“Additionally, as New Jersey once again faces the threat of base closings which will negatively impact the lives of men and women in our State who hold civilian and military posts here, we need a voice of temperance in Washington, who will make known the real-life effect on our soldiers and citizens.

“In threatening our bases, the powers that be in Washington are making rash and careless choices when it comes to the well-being of New Jersey residents. On the State level, I’ve sponsored bills to benefit our military bases, in order to maintain homeland security and to protect military jobs, but without significant bipartisan advocacy on the federal level as well, our efforts may be for naught.

“New Jersey is in a vulnerable position as a target for continued terrorism, and we need strong advocates on both the federal level – on key House and Senate Committees – and on the State level to ensure we get the protection we need.

“All New Jerseyans, whatever their political affiliation, should be appalled at the slighting of one of our own, who has stood up proudly for those who have so courageously defended the American way of life. Rep. Chris Smith has defined his political career fighting for the rights and benefits of veterans, and his removal from the Veterans’ Affairs Committee over partisan bickering is a mistake that will haunt the GOP leadership for years to come.”