Senator from Oregon
After being sworn into the United States Senate on January 7, 1997, Gordon Smith quickly has earned a reputation as a statesman with an independent streak. Senate leaders have recognized Sen. Smith's abilities and have continually asked him to serve in key leadership and committee positions. He also has become known for his ability to cross party lines in the interest of his constituents.
Smith serves on five major Senate committees: Commerce, Science, and Transportation; Energy and Natural Resources; Rules; Indian Affairs; and the powerful Finance Committee, which oversees programs such as Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security. Senator Smith also currently serves as the Chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, where he is widely respected for his leadership in investigating and debating issues of importance to America's aging population. In addition, he has been selected by leadership three times to be a deputy whip, a position that he currently holds.
Since coming to the Senate, Smith has focused on issues crucial to America's health care safety net. As a committed leader to improving access to health care, Smith has sponsored a number of initiatives that will increase flexibility for state programs like the Oregon Health Plan. He also has introduced a bill that will alleviate the nursing shortage by authorizing $40 million in grants for healthcare facilities to develop innovative nursing programs. Smith continues to push for federal funds that will help to meet the basic healthcare needs of the uninsured.
As Chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, Smith has initiated discussions on ways to strengthen Medicare, Medicaid, and public/private retirement programs and to expose companies that prey on seniors with marketing scams. During his tenure as Chairman, Smith also has worked to spotlight the issue of long-term care. In March of 2006, Smith conducted a hearing titled, "Long-Term Care Financing: Are Americans Prepared?," to ensure future generations of retiring Americans are able to meet their health care needs while not crippling entitlement programs like Medicare and Medicaid. Following the hearing, Smith introduced the Long-Term Care Trust Account Act (S. 2397) to assist individuals in purchasing long-term care insurance and saving for long-term care services. Smith also introduced the Long-Term Care Quality and Modernization Act (S. 3815) to improve the financing and delivery of long-term care.
Smith's foray into politics began in 1992, when he was elected to the Oregon State Senate. His colleagues recognized his leadership abilities by electing him minority leader, and then president of the State Senate during his first term in office. Upon his election to the United States Senate, Smith became the first U.S. Senator from eastern Oregon since 1938.
Born on May 25, 1952, in Pendleton, Ore., Gordon Smith graduated from Brigham Young University in 1976, and earned a law degree from Southwestern University in 1979. After working as an attorney in private practice, Smith assumed management of his family's frozen vegetable processing company, a position he held until his election to the U.S. Senate. Sen. Smith and his wife Sharon have raised three children, Brittany, Garrett, and Morgan. They maintain homes in Pendleton and in Bethesda, Md.
Senator Smith's website: http://gsmith.senate.gov
Aging Committee website: http://aging.senate.gov