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Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09), Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, made the following statement after the House passed the Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act.
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Washington D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09), Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, made the following statement after the House passed the Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act:

“I want to thank Chairman McKeon, all members of the House of Representatives and staff for their hard work on this important piece of legislation.

“Overall, this bill prioritizes our troops deployed in Afghanistan and around the world by ensuring that they have the tools and resources they need to do their job and protect national security.  It also provides our troops and their families with the benefits and support that they deserve, including a 1.6 percent pay increase.

“It continues to make counterterrorism a priority and makes significant investments in all branches of our Armed Services, ensuring that our military is prepared to meet the threats of today as well as the future.  It supports our troops as they continue to fight overseas, invests in new technologies for the future, and protects vital military equipment production capacity here at home.

“However, I am troubled by the language throughout the bill that either relies too much on a large and extended combat mission in the case of Afghanistan or, simply, overly confrontational language in the cases of Russia, North Korea, Iran, and China, to name a few.

“In many cases, the only thing preventing me from voting against this bill is the qualifying language.  For example, on Afghanistan, the bill requires 68,000 troops through the end of 2014 but then says “if necessary.”  On Iran, it calls for all avenues to be used including military force, but again, only "if necessary."

“The language on Russia is particularly troubling.  Much of the rhetoric during debate on this bill echoed sentiments from 1982, when we were at the height of the Cold War. We are no longer in the Cold War, and we should not be treating Russia like an enemy.

“On North Korea, the confrontational language went so far as to include a study that suggests deploying tactical nuclear weapons to the region.  This would be dangerous and reckless and could destabilize the entire region.

“If this were binding language, I would have to vote against this bill.  Luckily, it is simply a statement of policy by the majority -- policies that I strongly disagree with. 

“Additionally, given the size of our debt and deficit and growing budgetary pressures, I am concerned the bill supports an overall defense budget that is roughly $8 billion over the Budget Control Act.  Congress made a commitment to get our budget under control, and I fully expect that the Senate will honor the Budget Control Act number.

“The bill also includes provisions that discriminate against gay and lesbian service members.  For years, many members of our Armed Services had to hide who they were to fight for the country they love, and I am strongly opposed to efforts that seek to turn back the clock on the progress we have made in the name of equality.

“The bill also takes a big step back on energy, by ending support for many kinds of alternative fuels which undermine our national security policy.  Our nation must decrease, if not eliminate, its reliance on imported fuels and maintain our leadership in this area.  China and many other nations are seeking to become leaders in this area, and the committee’s actions will set us back and risk our leadership in this arena.

 “Again, I supported his bill in its current form because we must support our troops while they are in harm’s way.  We must ensure that they have the tools and resources they need to ensure national security and accomplish missions we ask of them.  However, there is still much more work to be done to address many of the issues with this bill.  I look forward to reviewing the Senate’s version of this bill and working with my colleagues here in the House to make sure we send the President a final bill that meets the high standards of the United States Armed Services.”

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Congressman Smith (WA-09) made the following statement regarding the letter sent to President Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua asking for improved detainee conditions and an independent investigation of Jason Puracal's case:

“Jason Puracal, an American citizen, is being held in a Nicaraguan prison in deplorable conditions. He shares a cell with eight other men where there is no running water and a hole in the ground serves as a sink, shower, dishwashing area, and disturbingly, a toilet.  

“After nearly 9 months of being detained and a drawn out trial, Mr. Puracal was convicted and sentenced to 22 years in prison. From information I’ve received from his lawyers, Mr. Puracal's conviction was based on a trial that was clearly flawed and conducted in what the State Department has referred to as a corrupt Nicaraguan judicial system. Tellingly, the California Innocence Project has adopted his case – they pick just ten each year – and conclude “there is strong evidence of factual innocence.”

“Given these circumstances, I am urging President Ortega to immediately provide Mr. Puracal improved detention conditions and I'm asking him to request his prosecutors conduct an independent review of Mr. Puracal’s case as it is currently on appeal.  Based on the assessment we have received from Mr. Puracal’s legal team and independent international legal experts that have reviewed the case, there is a compelling need for a thorough and objective prosecutorial review of Mr. Puracal’s case to determine his innocence under Nicaraguan law.

"The manner in which Mr. Puracal's case has been handled is incredibly unsettling. My hope is that this letter and our efforts will lead to a thorough independent investigation and will ensure the conditions under which Mr. Puracal is currently being held are improved to come into full accordance with standards set by international law."
Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09) made the following statement  on the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank:

"I’m pleased my colleagues were able to reach an agreement to reauthorize and raise the lending limits for the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im). Ex-Im provides critical financing to promote American exports and keeps them competitive within the global marketplace. Providing American manufacturers the resources they need to meet demand for U.S. exports is one of our top priorities for putting our economy back on track – nearly 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside the U.S.  Extending support to the Ex-Im Bank is critical to maintaining and creating jobs in Washington State and around the country. Ex-Im lending supports exporters in aerospace, clean technology, global health, wine, and other agricultural industries.
 
"Over the past three years, the Ex-Im Bank has provided more than $30 billion in disbursements to Washington State and more than $11 billion in capital to businesses in the 9th District.  And, the majority of companies receiving loans were small businesses. These loans have supported more than $68 billion in export sales in our state and have helped our local businesses complete transactions, create and sustain jobs that are vital to the health of our local and national economies."

Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09) made the following statement in recognition of Jewish American Heritage Month:

“This May, we celebrate the seventh annual Jewish American History Month and honor the vast contributions Jewish Americans have made to our country. Overcoming prejudice in search of the freedom to practice their faith, Jewish Americans have a history that encourages and inspires us all to work towards making the world a more just and equitable place.

"For more than 350 years, Jewish Americans have led innovation in academia, science, business, and public service that have advanced our society to new heights. This month, I hope we will all honor their achievements and pay tribute to their extraordinary legacy.”

 

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Secretary of the Navy Ray Maybus announced today that in honor of the contributions and support Washington state has given the military, one of the next five Virginia-class attack submarines will be named the USS Washington (SSN 787). The submarine will be the third ship to bear the state’s name.

The other four Virginia-class attack submarines will be named the USS Illinois (SSN 786), USS Colorado (SSN 788), USS Indiana (SSN 786) and USS South Dakota (SSN 790). The five states have not had a ship named for them in 49 years or longer.

“This is an exceptional way to recognize the men and women in Washington state who serve our country and to acknowledge the communities surrounding the base that support them in various ways,” said Congressman Smith. “I appreciate that the Navy is honoring us in this way.”

“Each of these five states serve as home to military bases that support our national defense and provide men and women that volunteer to serve their country,” said Secretary Mabus.  “I look forward to these submarines joining the fleet and representing these great states around the world.”  

These next-generation attack submarines will provide the Navy with the capabilities required to maintain the nation's undersea supremacy well into the 21st century. They will have enhanced stealth, sophisticated surveillance capabilities and special warfare enhancements that will enable them to meet the Navy's multi-mission requirements.

For more information about the Virginia-class attack submarine, visit http://www.navy.mil/.