Press Releases

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA) and Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) issued the following statement following the release of the Defense Department’s report on climate change. Langevin amended the FY 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, and Chairman Smith fought successfully for the amendment’s inclusion in the final conference report, expressing the sense of Congress that climate change is a national security issue and requiring the report on each service branch’s top ten military installations threatened by climate change:

“In 2017, House Democrats successfully required the Department of Defense to report on the impact that climate change will have on U.S. military installations. The Trump administration has now released that report and, unfortunately, it is inadequate. It demonstrates a continued unwillingness to seriously recognize and address the threat that climate change poses to our national security and military readiness,” said Chairman Smith. “While this climate report acknowledges that nearly all the military installations it studied are vulnerable to major climate change impacts, and provides numerous installation-level examples of those impacts, it fails to even minimally discuss a mitigation plan to address the vulnerabilities. The Department of Defense presented no specifics on what is required to ensure operational viability and mission resiliency, and failed to estimate the future costs associated with ensuring these installations remain viable. That information was required by law. The Department of Defense must develop concrete, executable plans to address the national security threats presented by climate change. As drafted, this report fails to do that.”

“I am deeply disappointed in the cursory report released by the Department of Defense regarding climate change as a matter of national security. While the Pentagon does rightly acknowledge that a changing climate will affect military readiness and installations, the report does not reflect the urgency of the challenge,” said Congressman Langevin. “Remarkably, the report comes after a year where the Department suffered nearly $10 billion in damage in just two extreme events at Tyndall Air Force Base and Camp Lejeune—two installations that were not even evaluated. Congress deliberately required a list of the top ten bases to specify the methodological rigor that is required to adequately evaluate risk and prioritize mitigation efforts. The report contains no such list. My amendment did not stipulate any geographic constraints on vulnerable installations - after all global warming is a global phenomenon. For no apparent reason, the report confines itself to U.S. bases. Extreme weather events, like the ones that the Department will be asking Congress for money to rebuild after, are not even included as a threat.”

“We need to know the risks to our military from climate change and the costs to mitigate them in order to protect the American people. This report brings us no closer to knowing them. It is unacceptable that the Department has ignored the clear instructions provided by law, and it is unacceptable that our service members and readiness will suffer as a result,” concluded Langevin. “I expect the Department to reissue a report that meets its statutory mandate and rigorously confronts the realities of our warming planet.”

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The House Democratic Conference today selected Rep. Adam Smith (WA-09) to serve as Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee in the 116th Congress.

“This is an extremely challenging time for our country and the world. We are in dire need of oversight from Congress and principled, coherent thinking on U.S. national defense strategy. The Armed Services Committee has a long track record of working in a bipartisan manner to advance U.S. national security policy, and I look forward to working with Ranking Member Thornberry to make that happen.  

“As Chairman, I will work with my colleagues to promote transparency and Congressional oversight, enhance military readiness, combat inefficiency and waste at DOD, advance green technology in defense and address the threat climate change poses to our national security, fight for an inclusive military, and move towards a responsible approach to nuclear weapons.”

Washington, D.C. – House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA) released the following statement about President Trump’s announcement that he is considering an attempt to misuse a declaration of national emergency in order to divert military construction readiness funds and spend the money on his border wall:

“President Trump is considering a plan to misuse an emergency authority and divert substantial resources from our military to build a wall on the southern border. This is as clear a statement as any that President Trump values the construction of his wall over military readiness and support for our troops and their families. Diverting money from these military construction accounts could have substantial impacts for servicemembers at installations across the country and on defense projects that are important in supporting readiness, training, operations, and quality of life for military personnel and their families.

“Moreover, by abusing this authority, President Trump would be saying that he does not actually believe all the money he requests for our country’s defense is needed for legitimate national security purposes. That would raise major questions about his credibility when he requests his next defense budget from Congress.

“I am adamantly opposed to President Trump using an unwise, weak, and irresponsible legal gimmick to circumvent Congress and the American people’s opposition to using taxpayer money for the construction of an unnecessary wall.”

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith released the following statement in support of the First Step Act, bipartisan criminal justice reform legislation which passed the House today by a vote of 358-36.

“For too long, our broken criminal justice system has harshly condemned those who have offended and served their sentences to failure. Draconian sentencing practices disproportionately hurt communities of color and have led to mass incarceration. Today, with passage of the First Step Act, we are beginning the long-overdue process to correct these historical wrongs and ensure everyone is treated equally under the law.  

“This bill provides retroactive relief under the Fair Sentencing Act, giving a path to freedom for thousands of people serving excessive sentences on crack cocaine charges. It draws upon aspects of the Second Chance Act, prioritizing funding for reentry programs that have been proven to reduce recidivism and lead to better outcomes for those released from prison. Additionally, the legislation will prohibit the solitary confinement of juveniles in federal facilities as called for in the Mercy Act.

“The First Step Act provides a foundation for Congress to enact greater reforms to improve our criminal justice system. Congress must build upon this legislation to push for restorative justice programs at both the federal and state levels in support of a fairer criminal justice system.”

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith sent a letter to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Acting Administrator Daniel Elwell urging the agency to implement guidance in response to Section 1044 of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Smith secured this provision in the legislation to allow Highline School District to qualify for over $14 million in Airport Improvement Grant (AIP) funds that the school district was promised in 2002.

“Highline School District needs the FAA to implement guidance my amendment calls for so that the district can apply for the funding that it was promised in 2002 and that Congress clarified the FAA should provide. My hope is that the FAA acts quickly and that both Highline High School and Des Moines Elementary can finally apply for funding to finish critical construction projects that will allow the school district’s students to have quiet learning environments free from distraction and noise annoyances.” 

Background:
Sea-Tac Airport is located in the center of Highline School District and many of the district’s schools are impacted by airport noise. A 2002 Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the Port of Seattle, the FAA, and Highline School District outlined noise mitigation for a number of Highline School District schools. Since the MOA was signed, the Port and the Highline School District met their portion of the funding obligation. During that time, the noise contours around the airport changed, leaving the two schools in areas where they did not qualify for the previously agreed upon funding.

The bipartisan and bicameral amendment that clarified the FAA’s ability to provide the funding promised in the 2002 MOA was incorporated into the FY 2019 NDAA and was signed into law.

The full text of the letter can be found below.  

December 20, 2018

 

The Honorable Daniel K. Elwell

Acting Administrator

Federal Aviation Administration

U.S. Department of Transportation

800 Independence Avenue, SW

Washington, DC 20591

 

Dear Acting Administrator Elwell:

As you work to implement the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019, I urge you to swiftly provide guidance related to implementation of Section 1044 of that Act, which clarifies the reimbursable allowed costs of FAA Memoranda of Agreement.

Section 1044 is a provision that affects seven public schools in the congressional district I represent. In 2002, the Highline School District entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Port of Seattle. This agreement was for noise mitigation at several schools in the Highline School District, which are located near the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac). Of the fifteen schools identified in the original agreement, eight have already been funded.

Due to changing noise contours and delayed construction by the school district, the FAA raised questions about the continued eligibility of the remaining seven schools, putting at risk critical federal and Port funding at a time when the Highline School District had passed a bond levy and began construction at two of the schools.

Section 1044 was negotiated on a bipartisan, bicameral basis to help resolve this issue and provide Highline School District with the critical funding eligibility needed to foster a safe and healthy learning environment for the students of those schools. In order for the Port of Seattle and Highline High School District to apply for the remaining AIP funding needed to begin construction at these two schools, guidance by the FAA must be issued.

I encourage the agency to act quickly on the direction from Congress and provide guidance pursuant to the implementation of Section 1044 of the FY 2019 NDAA, so that the Port of Seattle and Highline School District may apply for the funding that was agreed to in the 2002 MOA.

Thank you very much for your consideration on this matter.

Sincerely, 

Adam Smith 

Member of Congress