Press Releases

Smith Statement Announcing Commitment by Secretary of Veterans Affairs Nominee Shulkin to Support Seattle VA Hospital

Washington, D.C. – After meeting with individual veterans as well as Veteran Service Organizations (VSOs) over the past year, Congressman Smith and his staff have worked to help identify and address core issues at the Seattle VA. Congressman Smith has continually heard of obstacles that veterans face in accessing care. which largely stem from unfilled management positions, an overreliance on “acting” roles that lack decision-making authority, and frequent turnover in leadership. These deficiencies have led to a de facto paralysis at the Seattle hospital, leaving many veterans out in the cold. Today, Congressman Smith released the following statement following conversations with VA Under Secretary Shulkin:

February 7, 2017

“I applaud the commitment by VA Under Secretary Shulkin to send a team of management improvement specialists to the Seattle Veterans Affairs Hospital within 60 days. This pledge is the result of months of hard work, phone calls, and coordination between myself, my staff, and Dr. Shulkin. I shared with him the alarming stories from veterans in and around my District, and I fought to ensure that not only were their voices heard, but that their concerns were brought to the attention of the proper officials.  Dr. Shulkin’s commitment to sending this “Tiger Team” is the first step of what I hope will be many towards better outcomes for our veterans. The work of this VA team to improve hiring, retention, and leadership at the facility is badly overdue, and I look forward to working with them in coordination with VSOs in our community to make impactful changes.” 

Here’s How Holders of Special Immigrant Visas Contribute to U.S. National Security

Today, House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA), made the following statement about the sacrifices and contributions made by holders of Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) on behalf of the United States and its national security:

February 3, 2017

zing: border-box; margin: 0px 0px 14.5px; color: rgb(24, 57, 86); font-family: Roboto, sans-serif; font-size: 18px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);">“Our interpreter was like a brother to us. He risked his life, his family’s life, so we could actually work over there, and we need to get him here.”

Robert Morisseau, U.S. Marine Corps veteran

“If anyone deserves to be an American, it’s our interpreter—since he sacrificed it all for a place he’s never even set foot in.”

–Ramiro “Ram” Lopez, U.S. Marine Corps veteran

“The bravest person I’ve ever known went by the nickname Suge Knight…. A Sudanese Muslim, Suge served as my scout platoon’s interpreter during our deployment to Iraq in 2007 and 2008, and he went on every patrol and mission with us, no matter the circumstances.”

–Matt Gallagher, U.S. Army veteran

“We made a promise. We are crippling ourselves in a potential future conflict by having future local nationals refuse to help us because of our handling of the current SIV situation.”

–Andy Sliva, U.S. Marine Corps veteran

“Our Afghan interpreters are now facing the risk of life, liberty—their families are in danger. All because they did the right thing. ... And now we’re abandoning them.”

–James Miller, U.S. Marine Corps veteran

“She inspires me. … I’m so excited to see what she does for our country and the world.”

–Kelsey Campbell, U.S. Air Force veteran, speaking about her Iraqi interpreter who is now resettled in the U.S.

“Sam and Ford both have incredible stories of early ambition, self sacrifice, and service to two countries who have been a war for quite some time. They were childhood friends and saw an opportunity with the invasion of 03’ to do something for their country [Iraq]. They both signed up to be interpreters for U.S. forces almost immediately, one of them was only 17 years old at the time. I met the two of them in 2007 during my deployment to Rutbah, Iraq. Upon meeting them it was obvious they have been living with Marines for years as they had all of the gear and knew all the lingo—including how to insert an explicative in every possible sentence (as Marines do.)”

“I cannot imagine how different how raids would have been had we not had them with us. There is a lot of uncertainty in dynamic situations but they provided the clarity we desperately needed. They had a sense of the area and always knew long before us if something wasn’t right or when to be suspicious of others. They were not always allowed to be armed but took it in stride. They had to sleep and eat in the filthiest conditions but never complained. They were paid even less than us and still, we never heard a word of it. 

“I stayed in touch with both Sam and Ford and was fortunate enough to meet with them in Chicago years after I got out of the military. One is now a U.S. citizen and the other a green card holder, both were going to school. It goes without saying that these men saved American lives, they left their families for years to work with us, and deserve to have a chance at the American dream. For they are everything that make us great.”

—Doug Jackson, Marine Corps veteran

“When I was in the army, when I put on the uniform, they treated me as a brother.”

–Former Iraqi interpreter for the U.S. Army Othman Al Janabi

“We made a promise and we have to keep it. We are weaker if we don’t keep our promise to our allies.”

–Joe Jenkins, U.S. Marine Corps veteran

“I would like to see the interpreters who were beside me on every patrol I went on, get what they were promised.”

–Colt Smith, U.S. Marine Corps veteran

Smith Statement on Nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to Serve on the United States Supreme Court

Congressman Adam Smith released the following statement in response to President Trump’s decision to nominate Judge Neil Gorsuch for the vacancy that has been conspicuously vacant for just under one calendar year, due to Republican obstructionism:

February 2, 2017

“The absolute hypocrisy of Senate Republicans calling for ‘regular order’ to fill the Supreme Court vacancy after more than a year is beyond belief. In February of last year, President Obama carried out his constitutional obligation in nominating Judge Merrick Garland, who was denied even the common courtesy of a meeting with Republican leadership in the Senate – let alone a hearing.  It seems the Senate Majority Leader has been struck with a sudden case of memory loss, as he now miraculously believes it’s imperative to quickly fulfill the Senate’s explicit Constitutional responsibility to review the new President’s nominee. The appointment of a Supreme Court Justice is an infrequent event of major significance in American government and it is inexcusable that the door was slammed shut on President Obama’s nominee.

“President Trump cannot continue to put campaign promises ahead of bringing together a divided nation. In nominating Judge Gorsuch yesterday, the President has chosen an individual with an alarming history of judicial activism. Gorsuch’s remarks on the Citizens United v. FEC case are serious cause for concern. He would be wise to remember that corporations are not people, and money is not free speech. Furthermore, the opinion he argued in the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby case shows a deeply disturbing willingness to allow extreme latitude in cases where corporate interests have usurped individual rights.

“Senators swear an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. Although I anticipate Senate Republicans will move quickly in the confirmation process on this nominee, I understand if my Democratic colleagues in the Senate want to afford Judge Gorsuch the same level of courtesy that was afforded Judge Garland.” 

Smith Statement on Award of Congressional Award Medals to Local Students

Congressman Adam Smith presented the Bronze Congressional Award Medal to Jessica Waller and the Silver Congressional Award Medal to William “Max” Waller, both students at Mercer Island High School. Congressman Smith released the following statement in recognition of both students receiving these prestigious medals:

February 1, 2017

“It is a privilege to see young students like Jessica and Max demonstrating such a commitment to strengthening our communities. Their ability to complete challenging personal goals demonstrates determination and focus. They should be extremely proud of their accomplishments.

“To earn the Bronze Congressional Award Medal, Jessica volunteered more than 400 hours, primarily with Mercer Island Youth and Family Services, where she is a member of the youth advisory board, and at the Seattle Humane Society, where she is a teen leader.  Max earned his Silver metal and his Eagle Scout Badge by volunteering extensively with various environmental organizations, including Earth Corps. He also volunteered Seattle Music Partners, where he provided trombone lessons to students at Leschi Elementary School. In addition to their public service, both Max and Jessica set and achieved lofty personal development and fitness goals. I look forward to seeing the contributions both students will have to their community as future leaders. I wish both Max and Jessica the best as they continue to work toward the Gold Congressional Award Medal, the government’s highest honor for the country’s most ambitious youths.”

The Congressional Award was established in 1979 in order to recognize initiative, achievement, and service in young Americans. Since its inception, participating teens have logged more than 7.5 million volunteer hours.

“President Trump continues to sign vague and ill-conceived executive orders that have clearly not been properly considered in a rush to fulfill campaign promises. The executive order related to regulation signed this week is just another gimmick under the guise of reducing regulations. It arbitrarily requires that for every regulation passed, two have to be eliminated. This would wreak havoc on our regulatory system and hurt American businesses that are faced with an unpredictable and unsound regulatory environment. The very first indication that this order was alarmingly unclear and confusing is that the White House itself had to quickly issue a subsequent clarification to explain that independent agencies were exempt from it.

“I support a regulatory environment that focuses on the long term needs of our country, protects the American people from harmful environmental impacts, financial fraud, and unethical labor practices, while allowing us to transform our economy and create the jobs needed to compete globally in the future.  A well-functioning agency rulemaking process is critical to that goal. President Trump’s regulatory executive order does not move us closer to that goal, it does just the opposite.”