Press Releases

Smith Statement on Republican NDAA Provision Attacking LGBT Rights

Washington D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith released the following statement about the Russell amendment attacking LGBT rights that was included in the FY 2017 National Defense Authorization Act. During mark-up of the NDAA in committee, Democrats fought against efforts to expand religious organizations’ ability to conduct ‘taxpayer funded discrimination’ against LGBT individuals, women, and other groups.

May 4, 2016

“The language in the Russell amendment is a direct attack on LGBT rights. The president issued an executive order prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or identity by government contractors. The Russell amendment tries to override this executive order by artfully claiming to protect ‘religious freedom,’ but just like similar efforts in numerous state legislatures, this is actually an effort to promote discrimination. The language tries to protect the so-called ‘right’ to get government contracts and grants and still discriminate against people whose lifestyle you don’t approve of. Government-funded discrimination is wrong under any circumstances, and we certainly shouldn’t be trying to expand it in a defense policy bill.”

Smith Statement on House Armed Services Committee Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act Mark-Up

Washington D.C. – Yesterday, the House Armed Services Committee completed its mark-up of the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act.

April 29, 2016

“The House Armed Services Committee is maintaining its bipartisan tradition. We worked through a lot of issues throughout the mark-up process, including a number of very controversial provisions. We crafted legislation the way it is supposed to be done. We held productive debates, disagreed, voted, and at the end of the process we passed a very significant piece of legislation.

“The National Defense Authorization Act is a very important bill that provides funding for essential defense priorities and sets military policy that impacts members of the military, their families and our local communities. As Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, I will continue to fight for a bill that reflects our national priorities”

The Amendment Process

During the mark-up, Democrats fought hard and won votes to protect the environment, overriding measures that would have prohibited USDA funds from being used to support DOD efforts to procure alternative fuels, prevented the construction of biofuel refineries, and overturned President Obama’s executive orders on climate change and sustainability.

Democrats won on a vote to establish equality for women in the military, by including them in the Selective Service.

Democrats won on votes to expand parental leave for military members to 14 days, expand adoption leave for dual military couples to 36 days, and require the Secretary of Defense to study flexible maternity and paternity leave sharing.

Fighting for Our Principles

With the support of my colleague Congressman Clyburn, I offered an amendment to pressure South Carolina to take down the Confederate battle flag flying above The Citadel, but Republicans modified it and voted for a version that would allow the flag to continue flying.

I continue to fight to remove unnecessary restrictions on the closure of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, and offered an amendment to get rid of the unnecessary restrictions on GTMO transfers added in last year's NDAA. My amendment failed but I will continue to fight to close this international eyesore that undermines national security objectives and damages our credibility with regard to human rights and international law.

Democrats fought back against an effort to prohibit unused military facilities from being used to house unaccompanied undocumented children.

Democrats fought back against efforts to protect government contractors who pervasively violate labor, nondiscrimination, workplace safety, minimum wage, and other laws from disclosure requirements.

Democrats fought against efforts to expand religious organizations’ ability to conduct ‘taxpayer funded discrimination’ against LGBT individuals, women, and other groups.

Democrats fought to remove $317 million in unrequested funds for nuclear weapons modernization, to reverse restrictions on dismantling nuclear weapons no longer in use, stop plans for an infeasible $300 billion ‘Star Wars’ space-based antimissile shield, and fought for independent cost estimates and more insight into the 30-year trillion-dollar plan for nuclear modernization.

Democrats fought big oil-driven efforts to weaken the Endangered Species Act and undermine collaboration between DOD and DOI on land management via attacks on the sage grouse, the lesser prairie chicken, and the burying beetle.

Included in the Mark

The bill expresses a Sense of Congress valuing the expanded opportunities for women in the military and recognizing their long history of military service to the United States.

It  includes $10 million for research, development, and training at historically black universities and colleges; $20 million for military STEM education for at-risk youth; and $10 million for K-12 STEM education.

It allows transgender servicemembers who have changed their name after separation from service to receive amended discharge documents with their new name. 

It requires the Secretary of the Navy to review the court-martial convictions of those accused in the Port Chicago Naval Magazine incident of July 1944, to ensure there was no racial bias.

It requires a review of the service records of Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander veterans from the Korean war and Vietnam war to determine whether racial bias unjustly prevented them from receiving Medals of Honor, in order to set the record straight.

It directs the Secretary of Defense to examine the feasibility of  allow applicants to the Discharge Review Board and the Boards for the Correction of Military Records to appear before the boards remotely.

It includes Talia’s Law, a measure to prevent child abuse and neglect on military installations.

It fully funds nuclear nonproliferation and funds nuclear clean-up efforts.

It directs a study to try and identify individuals who are at high risk for suicide, as well as outlining efforts to combat suicidality.

It affirms the Secretary of Defense’s legal ability to allow immigrants – including DREAMers – to enlist in the military and serve our nation in uniform.

I continue to fight for the wellbeing of our service members and provide critical support in efforts to address opioid misuse, abuse, addiction, overdose and death. I offered an amendment accepted by the committee directing the Secretary of Defense to submit a report to Congress on the DOD’s efforts to prevent, educate and treat prescription opioid drug abuse.

I support people-to-people ties, as they form bonds and bridges between nations. Helping build capacity abroad through education, including English language programs, advances national security goals. The bill requires a brief on opportunities to explore expanded education programs abroad and at home, including partnerships with U.S. colleges and universities.

I recognize the importance of exploring technology for clean water and desalination. Knowing the DOD has made advances in desalination technology and that lack of clean water is a factor in destabilization around the world, the bill requires the DOD to provide further information on the recent advances in desalination technologies and how those advances have been shared with other Government agencies.

I continue to work towards stability and security in Somalia. The bill affirms the DOD’s bi-lateral security cooperation and counter-terrorism efforts to improve the security situation in Somalia and address terrorist threats from Al-Shabaab.

To watch the full committee mark-up, visit the House Armed Services Committee YouTube Channel: 


Republicans Vote to Allow Confederate Flag to Fly at The Citadel

Washington, DC – Today during the National Defense Authorization Act markup, Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee voted to adopt an amendment that would allow the state of South Carolina to override a federal measure withdrawing ROTC support for The Citadel if it continues flying the Confederate battle flag.

April 28, 2016

Ranking Member Adam Smith, in consultation with Congressman James Clyburn, introduced a measure that would have withdrawn support for ROTC at The Citadel if the Confederate battle flag continued to fly. In order to avoid voting on that measure, Republicans introduced and passed a modified amendment that would allow the flag to continue flying if The Citadel’s Board of Visitors voted to remove the flag, even though such a vote cannot remove the flag under South Carolina law.

“This failure to take down the Confederate battle flag is an extremely disappointing statement of principles,” said Smith. “Needless to say this symbol of slavery, rebellion, racial oppression, and resistance to the rule of law is not appropriate to fly over institutions that train our next generation of military officers, and it is bizarre to allow the flag to fly above an academy when the military services do not allow the same flag to be displayed in servicemembers’ rooms. They should have voted to take it down instead of dodging the issue.”

Smith Statement on Combating Terrorist Recruitment Act

Congressman Adam Smith made the following statement regarding his opposition to the Combating Terrorist Recruitment Act:

April 28, 2016

“Terrorism is about spreading fear. As we combat violent extremism and the spread of dangerous propaganda, we must recognize that hateful ideology originates both overseas and at home. Since the 9/11 attacks, domestic terrorists have killed more people in the United States than foreign terrorist organizations. Numerous domestic terror acts, including those at the Seattle Jewish Federation, Planned Parenthood in Colorado, Oklahoma City, the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, the Sikh Temple in Wisconsin and the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC, have made clear that violent extremism is not limited to a single ideology, nor does it always breed on foreign soil.

“Earlier this week, the House of Representatives considered H.R. 4820, the Combating Terrorist Recruitment Act. Notably, this bill weakens national security by excluding domestic terror organizations from its focus and ignoring that terrorists are inspired by a broad number of religious, political and ideological beliefs.

“Our national security approach must build people-to-people ties, address the root causes of extremism and empower local partners to prevent violent extremism, both here and abroad. In the Puget Sound region, we have seen the damage that hateful and violent rhetoric inflicts on our local community centers and places of worship. We must remain vigilant in our fight against terror networks that seek to do us harm. By opening our eyes to the realities of foreign and domestic terror networks, we can work together to build a more just and peaceful society as we keep America safe.” 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Ranking Members Adam Smith, Robert C. "Bobby" Scott, and Elijah Cummings of, respectively, the House Armed Services Committee, the House Education and the Workforce Committee, and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform issued the following statements today after learning about forthcoming efforts to ban implementation of the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order via an amendment in the FY 2017 Defense Authorization Act.

The Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order would require defense contractors who have committed serial violations of employment, safety, and minimum wage laws or serial discrimination based on race, gender, pregnancy, disability, or veterans status to disclose that they have done so to the government when applying for new contracts.

Ranking Member Smith made the following statement:

“We should not be making it easier for companies that violate labor, safety, or gender and racial equity laws to acquire government contracts. It is common sense that when the Defense Department or Nuclear Security Administration is choosing who it will work with, it should have sufficient information about any violations to know what it is getting into. Our labor and nondiscrimination laws exist to uphold the rights of Americans, and we need to stand up for those rights instead of trying to hide evidence that they have been violated. I will oppose any efforts to include language overriding this executive order in this National Defense Authorization Act.”

Ranking Member Scott made the following statement:

“We are deeply concerned about possible amendments to limit the application of the Fair Pay and Safe Workplace Executive Order as part of the Fiscal Year 2017 Defense Authorization Act. This EO, when implemented, will improve the information available to contracting officers to identify companies which engage in repeated, willful or pervasive violations of employment, non-discrimination, labor, or workplace safety laws. Congress should reject any attempts to provide taxpayer dollars to companies who repeatedly flaunt federal workplace laws or deprive workers of their labor and civil rights.”

Ranking Member Cummings made the following statement:

“It is extremely troubling that House Republicans are trying to pass a measure that would have the effect of encouraging corporate misconduct. The President’s Executive Order establishes a fair and consistent process to ensure that federal contractors pay their workers what they earn, maintain a safe working environment, and do not discriminate on the bases of race, gender, or disability. This is simple common sense, and it should be celebrated and enforced, not criticized and overturned.”