House Speaker Kevin McCarthy today picked Rep. Christopher Smith (R-Manchester) to serve as chairman of the House Human Rights Commission.
The bipartisan panel began as the Congressional Human Rights Caucus in 1983. It is now called the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission after one of its founders, Tom Lantos, a Democratic congressman from California.
As a teenager in Hungary, Lantos was sent to a forced labor camp by the German Nazi occupying military during World War. He escaped and lived in a safe house operated by a Swedish diplomat, Raoul Wallenberg, who had issued thousands of visas to Hungarian Jews. Lantos spent the remainder of the war as part of the resistance and came to the United States after the rest of his family were killed in the Holocaust.
Lantos and Smith were freshmen congressmen together in 1981.
This is the third committee chairmanship for Smith now that Republicans control the House. He chairs the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organization and is chairman of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China. This is the third time Smith has chaired the commission.