Press Releases

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, reintroduced the No First Use Act to establish in law that the United States policy is to not use nuclear weapons as a means of warfare first.

“The United States should never initiate a nuclear war,” said Chairman Smith. “This bill would strengthen deterrence while reducing the chance of nuclear use due to miscalculation or misunderstanding. Codifying that deterring nuclear use is the sole purpose of our nuclear arsenal strengthens U.S. national security and would renew U.S. leadership on nuclear nonproliferation and disbarment.

“Threatening to use nuclear weapons first makes America less safe because it increases the chances of a miscalculation or an accident. There are no winners in a nuclear war, and the US should never start one -- I am glad to reintroduce this bill with Chairman Smith to commit the US to not using nuclear weapons first,” said Senator Warren.

The No First Use Act would strengthen U.S. national security by:

  • Reducing the risk of miscalculation or misunderstanding by an adversary during a crisis that could lead to nuclear use
  • Strengthening our deterrence and increasing strategic stability by clarifying our declaratory policy
  • Preserving the U.S. second-strike capability to retaliate against any nuclear attack on the U.S. or its allies

Full text of the bill can be found here.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, today issued the following statement after President Biden announced that United States troop levels in Afghanistan will reach zero by September 11, 2021.

“I have followed the conflict in Afghanistan for years in my oversight role on the House Armed Services Committee, and after my conversations with President Biden’s national security team I remain convinced that withdrawing our troop presence from Afghanistan is the right policy decision. It is also clear to me that adjusting the timeline was a necessity given that the previous May 1 deadline posed significant logistical challenges. Withdrawing our force too quickly would endanger more than 3,000 U.S. troops and 7,500 partner nation troops and this adjusted timeline will allow the Department of Defense and our allies to bring their troops home safely.

“I also agree with President Biden that we cannot wait for the perfect security conditions before withdrawing – to do so would mean our men and women in uniform would never return home. We must be clear-eyed about the likelihood that the Taliban may increase aggression toward U.S. and coalition troops after May 1, potentially making the mission more difficult, costly, and deadly. 

“We must also be honest about our military presence on the ground, which both helps and hurts. Our presence has helped establish the conditions for an Afghan government and an Afghan security force, but support that requires our troop presence cannot continue in perpetuity. The risks and costs associated with our continued military presence are too high and having U.S. boots on the ground cannot guarantee a stable Afghan government.

“Our goal in the region has always been to prevent transnational terrorists from launching an attack against the United States or our allies, but there are other means to monitor that threat and manage risk and, at this point, the cost and risk of a continued troop presence – both US troops and those of our allies – outweigh the benefits.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.), sent a letter to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Dickson urging the agency to immediately move forward with the environmental mitigation pilot grant program established under Section 190 of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018.

“The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 was signed into law over two years ago, yet the FAA has still not published any formal guidance for the program,” wrote Rep. Smith. “The bill contained numerous provisions requiring research to examine the impact of aviation noise and emissions, including a new environmental mitigation pilot program. According to the law, the program will fund projects that will ‘measurably reduce or mitigate aviation impacts on noise, air quality, or water quality.’

“There are increasing concerns about the impact of aviation noise and emissions on communities surrounding airports, including Sea-Tac Airport in my district,” Rep. Smith continued. “I have heard from numerous local elected officials, university researchers, and community stakeholders who have expressed an interest in applying for grant funds under this program. Moving expeditiously to conduct the pilot program presents an important opportunity for the Department of Transportation and the FAA to demonstrate its commitment to environmental justice, a priority for the Biden-Harris Administration.”

Read the full letter here.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, today issued the following statement after Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced that the Department of Defense will adopt a new policy allowing transgender members of the military to serve openly.

“President Biden promised to create a diverse and inclusive administration that reflects our country’s values, and today’s change in policy at the Department of Defense is another step towards making that vision a reality. This change in policy affirms the inherent worth of all service members – regardless of their gender identity, race, religion, national origin, color, or sexual orientation – and will allow thousands of transgender service members to continue serving the country they love as their authentic selves.

“For years, these Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Coast Guardsman, Marines, and Guardians continued to serve despite the harmful policies they were operating under. Our military is the strongest in the world because of the brave individuals who have volunteered to defend our rights, freedoms, and values, and today’s change in policy honors each and every one of them.

“This change in policy allows transgender individuals, who are otherwise qualified, to honorably serve, making our Armed Services a stronger and more diverse force. Thanks to this change in policy, new recruits may enter the service in their preferred gender marker and those serving may serve openly and obtain the medical services and support needed to continue to serve in their preferred gender marker. The policy also addresses the transition and approval process including the roles of the servicemember, commander, and medical community.

“I commend President Biden for seeing our transgender troops for who they are, demanding they receive equal treatment under the law, and for appreciating the many contributions they make to our national security.”

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Transformative legislation ends the use of private detention facilities, repeals mandatory detention, prohibits solitary confinement, and promotes community-based alternatives to detention while also restoring due process for immigrants and increasing oversight, accountability, and transparency measures

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representatives Adam Smith (WA-09) and Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), and U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) reintroduced the Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act, transformative legislation that ends the inhumane conditions of detention centers and protects the civil and human rights of immigrants. The bill urgently reforms the alarming injustices of a broken, for-profit immigration detention system by ending the use of private detention facilities altogether, repealing mandatory detention, stopping family detention, and prohibiting solitary confinement while also restoring due process and increasing oversight, accountability, and transparency measures.

The legislation will shrink the population of detention centers and promote more humane and less costly community-based alternatives by mandating that all detained immigrants have access to a custody hearing in front of an immigration judge. Vulnerable populations — including primary caregivers and asylum seekers — will also be protected. Additionally, the government will be required to show probable cause that someone poses a risk to the community in order to detain them. Importantly, the bill requires the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to establish legally enforceable civil detention standards, and creates a meaningful inspection process at facilities. 

“Immigrants make our country stronger in countless ways and have become an integral part of the fabric of our communities in Washington’s ninth district and beyond. However, our broken immigration system enables the inhumane treatment of immigrants and denies them basic protections and due process,” said Congressman Smith. “Following four years of attacks that further eroded our asylum and immigration system, we have the opportunity to advance a smarter, more humane vision. Our legislation would reform the immigration detention system to no longer prioritize the unnecessary detention of individuals and families, allowing immigrants to live outside of detention while they await their immigration proceedings. It would end the repugnant for-profit detention system and enact higher standards of care and robust oversight for immigration detention facilities. The Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act recognizes the contributions of immigrants to our communities, brings humanity and basic human rights to a failed immigration system, and takes a big step forward to the kinds of reforms we need across our immigration system.”

“Ending the unjust treatment of immigrants and the inhumane conditions that they are subjected to is going to take far more than removing Donald Trump, it will take removing America’s for-profit detention system altogether,” said Congresswoman Jayapal. “The Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act ends the use of private detention facilities, repeals mandatory detention, promotes community-based alternatives, and restores due process while transforming the entire system so immigrants finally have their human rights and wellbeing protected.”

“During the Trump Administration, we saw vividly how our immigration detention system can dehumanize and harm those seeking asylum in the United States. As we work to reform this broken system, we must ensure that how we treat immigrants who come to our nation to seek refuge reflects our American values,” said Senator Booker. “Our bill will protect the civil rights of immigrant detainees so that they are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.”

The Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act is endorsed by dozens of organizations across America, including Amnesty International, National Immigrant Justice Center, Women’s Refugee Commission, Freedom For Immigrants, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA), CASA, National Organization for Women, Asia Pacific Institute on Gender Based Violence, Bend the Arc: Jewish Action, First Focus Campaign for Children, Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, Public Counsel, Church World Service, National Partnership for New Americans, and Union for Reform Judaism.

“The Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act is a transformative measure moving the U.S. toward achieving what should be the administration’s and Congress’ number one goal: freeing people, including all children and families, from immigration detention. It's high time that the U.S. makes immigration detention the rare exception, not the norm, and eliminates the profit motive from detention," said Joanne Lin, National Director of Advocacy and Government Affairs at Amnesty International USA (AIUSA). "The Biden Administration needs to do much more, and faster, to reset our immigration detention system. Working with Congress to pass this bill will get the U.S. on the path to doing just that.”

"This bill marks a very important first step towards dismantling a system that is built on the mass incarceration of Black immigrants and immigrants of color,” said Sirine Shebaya, Executive Director of the National Immigration Project (NIPNLG). “Particularly in this moment of racial reckoning, its passage is critical to ensuring a move away from criminalization and oppression and towards a more humane and compassionate immigration system."

“The Department of Homeland Security utilizes a sprawling network of jails to detain tens of thousands of immigrants every day in harsh and punitive conditions. The failings of this system include dozens of deaths, rampant allegations of abuse, and countless unjust deportations. The agency holds far too many for far too long in a system that incentivizes profits and politics over human life and due process,” said Nayna Gupta, associate director of policy at the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC). “The Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act takes overdue steps toward a civil immigration system with greater humanity.” 

“The Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act lays the foundation for a transformative vision of our immigration system. U.S. immigration detention cruelly jails hundreds of thousands of people each year in unconscionable conditions, leaving them separated from their communities, families, and the support to successfully navigate an immigration case,” said Katharina Obser, Acting Director of the Migrant Rights and Justice program at the Women’s Refugee Commission. “This important legislation puts forward an affirmative vision for a different, better way. The Women’s Refugee Commission is grateful to the leadership of Representative Jayapal, Representative Smith, and Senator Booker, and looks forward to working with Congress to create a more rights-respecting, dignified, and just immigration system.”

“Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detains tens of thousands of people every year in a sprawling network of immigration detention centers across the country with a horrific history of abuse, negligence and even death. This is a shameful moral failure of the US immigration system. No one should have to suffer behind bars while they are going through their immigration case. Currently the overwhelming majority of people in ICE detention are held in facilities operated by private prison companies or state and local governments who get paid for each individual they detain,” said Setareh Ghandehari, Advocacy Director at Detention Watch Network. “The Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act gets rid of these perverse financial incentives by requiring the phase out of private prisons and local jails for ICE detention. The Act will also have a real impact on individual lives by ending detention for certain vulnerable populations, ending mandatory detention provisions in our immigration laws, and establishing a presumption of release for everyone. Dignity for Detained Immigrants brings us closer to a more just and humane immigration system.”

To view the text of the legislation, click here.

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