on D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith spoke on the House Floor during debate of the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act:

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Click here and look below for House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith’s remarks on fiscal responsibility and the FY 19 defense bill: https://www.c-span.org/video/?c4730838/rep-adam-smith-debates-fiscal-responsibility-fy19-ndaa

Click here and look below for Smith’s remarks on nuclear weapons and the FY 19 defense bill: https://www.c-span.org/video/?c4730832/rep-adam-smith-debates-nuclear-weapons-fy19-ndaa

Click here for Smith’s full opening remarks in debate on the FY 19 defense bill: https://www.c-span.org/video/?c4730829/rep-adam-smith-debates-fy19-ndaa

Remarks on fiscal responsibility:

"In these times of scarce resources, it is incredibly important that we get the most out of what we spend. On that point: I do worry about the future, from a fiscal standpoint. We are right now spending roughly 20% more money than we take in every year, and that is projected to go up. The debt-to-GDP ratio is over 100% and, again, is projected to only go up. 

"Now we’ve got the deal for FY 18 and FY 19, which gives some degree of predictability for our military and that’s good. Because the last, gosh, eight years now we have gone from CR to CR, a couple government shutdowns, a number of threatened government shutdowns, and a large amount of unpredictability. Which is a problem for the entire discretionary budget, not just the Department of Defense. Every other department that is dependent on the discretionary budget has lived with uncertainty. That makes our government less efficient and less effective. We need to lock in more predictability. 

"Now, traditionally at this point, this is when everyone says that the Budget Control Act and the budget caps have got to go. And I agree with that. The problem is you get rid of the budget caps, you get rid of the Budget Control Act—and we certainly should: that was passed back in 2011 and it wasn’t even passed for a good reason back then—but even if you get rid of those caps, it doesn’t make money magically appear

"We still have the debt and the deficit that we are facing. We still have the crushing needs that we have, not just in the Department of Defense, but in infrastructure and research and education and a whole bunch of critical areas to the health and well-being of our country. 

"Somehow in the next few years--and I’ll admit I was joking when someone talked about his fiscal hawk credentials that I’m wondering if anybody has fiscal hawk credentials at this point when you look at the debt and deficit--we have got to get that in order. Now I don’t think we’re going to balance the budget tomorrow. I don’t think we should—I think the impact on the economy would be devastating. But we’ve got to get on a glide path to a more fiscally sustainable situation or we are headed for trouble. I simply don’t believe that you can spend 20% more money than you take in, forever, and have it not be a problem. 

"And everything you want to know about how big a problem this is is contained in three votes that I think we took over a one-month, couple-month period. There are many, many members of Congress who voted for the tax cut, which estimates are it’s going to reduce our revenue by $2 trillion; for the spending agreement, which increased our spending by $500 billion; and then a week later they voted for a balanced budget amendment. To say that that’s a math problem is the understatement of the evening. 

"It doesn’t add up. We all say we want to balance the budget, we don’t want to raise taxes, we don’t want to cut spending. That doesn’t work, and a lot of different aspects of our government pay a price for that, but the Department of Defense is one of the biggest. As the largest portion of the discretionary budget, they pay the highest price when we don’t get ourselves on a fiscally responsible path, and national security is at least one of if not the most important function that our government needs to provide. 

"So I think FY 18 and FY 19, those are good deals, but building for the future, we have got to get on a fiscally responsible path. But again within this bill, and you’ve heard a lot of it from our members, there are a lot of good policies that I think are going to make a very positive difference in terms of making our Department of Defense work better, and most importantly providing for the men and women who serve our country and their families."

Remarks on nuclear weapons:

"The one thing that I would point out that is the most troubling to me is the endorsement of the Nuclear Posture Review that was just put forward by the administration. I am very concerned, number one, that we are spending too much money on our nuclear weapons arsenal going forward, and what impact will that have on those other needs that I mentioned just a minute ago?: What impact will that have on readiness? What impact will it have on our ability to have the forces forward deployed enough to deter Russia, to deter North Korea, to deal with China’s rise in Asia?

"So I think we are overemphasizing nuclear weapons, number one, in terms of the amount of money that we are spending on them, but equally as troubling, this bill authorizes low-yield nuclear weapons for the first time in a very long time. It even authorizes a low-yield nuclear weapon for our submarines. I believe that puts us down a dangerous course. We need to make sure we are deterring any possibility of nuclear war.

"There is a huge risk as Russia rises back up, with what North Korea is doing, now that we’re not in the nuclear agreement with Iran—what they might be doing—that we must avoid miscalculation and stumbling into a nuclear war. Thinking that there is such a thing as a tactical nuclear weapon, a weapon small enough that it doesn’t really rise to the level of the other nuclear weapons, I think is a mistake. And, yes, I know Russia is building them. So the question is how do we deter Russia?

"Well, I think we deter Russia in a very straightforward way. We have over 4,000 nuclear warheads. We have more than enough nuclear firepower to present a credible deterrent to what they are doing. We don’t have to say, well, if you use a small nuclear weapon, we won’t want to use a bigger one in response. We want to say that our deterrence is, if you cross the red line of all red lines and use a nuclear weapon, we will respond overwhelmingly. We want to make sure it never happens.”

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