Press Releases

WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today issued the following statement in reaction in the wake of President Trump’s recent intervention in the Military Justice process, and the firing of Richard Spencer, the Secretary of the Navy:

“While the President has the authority to pardon a United States citizen, including members of the military, I urge extreme caution in using this authority, especially when the individual has been convicted through the extensive military justice process. A process, which includes appeals, and that has been upheld over the last five decades. The President certainly should not be trying to influence the outcome of this process or pardoning service members before the process is complete – doing so has the potential to seriously damage cohesiveness and discipline in the military. If a member of the armed services believes they don’t have to listen to their immediate superior because they can simply go over their head to the President and pundits on Fox News in order to get out of trouble, that is hugely problematic.

“The military services have the authority to administratively police standards, including the removal of honors like the coveted Trident badge earned by Navy Seals when they do not uphold the high standard and morals required. The President should not involve himself in these administrative procedures.

“Ultimately this is about maintaining the chain of command and good order and discipline. Both the chain of command and the military justice system are critical components of a fully functioning military. While the President sits atop that chain of command, he must also respect the leadership of those serving below him. When he uses his authority to override the military justice system, he is effectively undermining the chain of command, and that must stop.”

###

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA) introduced the Empowering Individuals to Succeed Through Education and Workforce Training Act. This legislation would establish a new competitive grant program under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), dedicated exclusively to providing support services for individuals receiving workforce training and education.

Barriers to receiving an education or obtaining the skills needed to succeed are insurmountable for far too many individuals in this economy. Career and technical education and workforce training services provide opportunities for individuals to enter the workforce and are critical to addressing our nation’s skills gap. The financial burden often goes beyond just the costs of tuition. Reducing the barriers that individuals face to obtain training and education will help ready our workforce for in-demand, well-paid jobs.

“With persistent inequities in our society and an evolving economy, we must do more to help people obtain the education and skills they need to succeed. The Empowering Individuals to Succeed Through Education and Workforce Training Act will provide wraparound services that are needed to help individuals complete education and training programs for in-demand jobs in our economy,” said Congressman Adam Smith. “Equal opportunity for all is only possible when every person in our country can access programs leading to high-quality and good-paying jobs.”

“This is crucial legislation to serve our workforce and support the economic and civic drivers in our communities.  Not only will these funds assist in defraying challenges of housing, transportation and childcare, but will also connect students to health care, legal aid, and other community services,” said Renton Technical College President Kevin McCarthy. “Students benefiting from these services are much more likely to complete the training for which they are well qualified and passionate.”

“Education and training outcomes increase exponentially when students also have access to wrap around supports that help provide a stable foundation to focus on learning. These support services are exactly the critical needs for many of our students along their career pathway to living-wage jobs,” said Veronica Wade, Executive Dean of Professional Technical and Workforce Education, South Seattle College.

“Every day, working people, students, and families are looking for opportunities to get ahead but too few workers can access the skills, training and education necessary to access good jobs,” said Katie Spiker, Director of Government Affairs of National Skills Coalition. “Support services like childcare, transportation and career counseling are critical to workers’ ability to access and succeed in skills training programs that lead to jobs at the backbone of America’s economy.”

“As a service provider, it is crushing to see these same young people be pushed out of the programs that are set up to help them, said Kathryn Peterson, Program Manager at YouthCare. “Fortunately, these barriers, so often, can be easily remedied with just a little support from a service provider that actually has the funds allocated to specifically identify, and address, critical barriers to engagement that are outside of the typically funded services of transportation and identification support.”

“WIOA provides many opportunities to help job seekers advance their careers and achieve economic stability. This bill builds on the success of WIOA by establishing a new supportive services fund that will enable more participants to get the resources they need to complete their education and training. We applaud Representative Smith for introducing this important legislation,” said Olivia Golden, Executive Director of CLASP.

Through the Empowering Individuals to Succeed Through Education and Workforce Training Act, local and state workforce development boards would use grants to build partnerships with WIOA-supported programs and expand the capacity to help individuals receive support services including assistance with transportation, childcare or dependent care, and housing; referrals to health care services; legal aid services; and others. Individuals participating in a wide range of WIOA training and education programs would be eligible to receive support under the grant, such as skills upgrading and retraining, apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs, adult education and literacy activities, and occupational skills training.

###

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA) today issued the following statement in response to the Trump Administration’s announcement that it will no longer consider Israeli settlements to be inconsistent with international law:

“The decision by Secretary Pompeo and the Trump Administration is misguided and paves the way for further Israeli settlement expansion. Continuing down the path of expanded settlements undermines the viability of a Palestinian state and makes a two-state solution even more difficult. Without durable states for both the Israeli and Palestinian people, the region will continue to face the violence and instability it has suffered for generations.   

"This is just the latest in a series of actions by the Trump Administration that have damaged U.S. credibility in pushing for a comprehensive peace agreement. The U.S. should focus on taking actions that safeguard Israel’s security, enhance stability in the region, and advance the prospects for a two-state solution. This decision runs counter to those objectives.”

###

On Veterans Day, we honor those who have served and those who continue to serve our country. The men and women of our Armed Services risk their lives around the world every day to keep us safe. In recognition of their bravery, heroism, and sacrifice, we must ensure that they and their loved ones are cared for when they return home. As we reflect on their courage and selfless service, I wanted to give you an update on my efforts in Congress on behalf of our veterans and their families.

As the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), I am honored to work with and for the brave men and women who have donned the uniform to represent our great nation. One of my top priorities in Congress is to ensure that we take care of our military—active duty and veteran alike. This means doing all I can to ensure that members of our military come home to the quality jobs, educational opportunities, and health care services that they deserve. These benefits are critical for veterans, retirees, and their dependents, as well as those who are considering a career in the military. I will continue working to address the needs of our veterans, and for those newly leaving active duty, to ensure they have the support necessary for their transition back to civilian life.

Connecting with Veterans in the Community 

When I am back home in the Ninth District, I meet with individual veterans and local veteran Service Organizations (VSOs) to better understand the needs and concerns of these members of our community. These meetings provide an important opportunity for me to hear from local veterans so that I may elevate their concerns and learn about the issues that impact them and their families.

This October, I hosted a Veteran Services Town Hall, where I was joined by stakeholders from King County, Pierce County, the Washington Department of Veteran Affairs and the VA Benefits Administration. Together, we discussed the status of and challenges to veteran service in the Ninth District. This conversation highlighted the issue of affordability as conveners explained that the high cost of living in King County has outpaced the benefits and pay afforded to caseworkers and other service staff. For instance, the Community Based Outreach Clinics, which includes the Federal Way Veterans Center, has lost over half of their primary clinicians to private practices that pay more competitive wages.

Veterans face unique barriers to quality care, many due to the unusually broad scope of caseworker responsibilities. Caseworkers who work with veterans must manage complex and wide-ranging problems compared to their colleagues who work with non-veteran populations. Veteran case management requires caseworkers to learn veteran cultural competency, navigate the complicated veteran benefit system, and interact with uniquely complex challenges in the housing arena.

These conversations provide me with the critical knowledge to help me better advocate for the veterans that call our region home. My office is always looking to expand our work with veterans.

To join my Veterans Advisory Council, please contact my District Representative Glenn Carpenter at (425) 793-5180 or Glenn.Carpenter@mail.house.gov.

Commitment to Veterans’ Healthcare 

Many of my veteran constituents receive care through the VA Puget Sound (VAPS) Health Care System. I visited the VA Puget Sound to learn about the work being done in the new Mental Health and Research building which opened earlier this year. I met with VAPS leadership to hear about innovations in 3D printing, the VA’s approach to addressing veteran suicide, and the risks posed by untested drugs pushed by the President and VA Secretary Wilkie, such as Ketamine nasal spray as a treatment for depression.

In meetings with individual veterans and in conversations with local VSOs, my staff and I have worked to identify some of the root causes of the existing obstacles to veterans’ access to care. While we have seen progress in recent months, significant work remains to ensure that our veterans have access to the services and care they deserve. One of the most important aspects of my job is fighting to ensure that not only are veterans voices heard, but that their concerns are brought to the attention of the proper officials. I look forward to continuing work with the VA - in coordination with VSOs in our community - to make impactful changes for veterans and their families.

Honoring Veterans in Our Community 

We must always take time to celebrate our veterans and reflect our community’s commitment to recognizing the men and women who have fought for our freedoms and liberties. In July, the Disabled American Veteran (DAV) Chapter 23 in Seattle held its inaugural Black Veterans Appreciation and Celebration event. I was honored to be invited to speak about the importance of recognizing the contributions made by black veterans. I look forward to continuing this work with the DAV to amplify the stories of black veterans who have withstood harsh circumstances to propel us toward a more perfect union.

This year, my staff and I worked closely with the Minority Veterans of America (MVA), which works to advance equity and foster community for women, LGBTQ, and religious minority veterans as well as veterans of color. Hearing from these underrepresented veterans and identifying solutions to their unique challenges is crucial in our work towards ensuring a more open and inclusive military. This summer, King County awarded MVA a five-year grant to establish their operations in Seattle. I am proud that my office has worked closely with this group since their founding and look forward to continuing to support their efforts on behalf of underrepresented veterans. 

Hearing From You 

It is critical that I continue to hear from my constituents about the issues most important to them. In order to best represent my district, please keep me updated on your priorities by contacting either my Renton or Washington, D.C. office or by visiting my website.

I am honored to represent thousands of veterans who call Washington’s Ninth Congressional District home. I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress, and particularly on the Armed Services Committee, to ensure that we fulfill our commitments to our service members, their families, and our veterans. Thank you to all of our nation’s veterans for your service.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today issued the following statement denouncing U.S. lack of support for the Kurds in Northeastern Syria.

“What happened to the Kurds in Northeastern Syria is an abomination. The United States’ failure to do everything that we reasonably could to prevent the current fate of the Kurds is a betrayal of a key partner and a major foreign policy blunder.

“Literally adding insult to injury, it is also totally unacceptable that the President has been relentless in hurling a barrage of insults at the Kurds over the course of the last two weeks. This is a difficult set of circumstances, and it would be naïve to blame only the President for this tragic situation. A series of factors contributed to how this played out. But for the President to disparage the Kurds as ‘worse terrorists than ISIS’ and remarking, ‘what do we care, they never really helped us anyway,’ is unbelievably offensive and unnecessary. The Kurds have fought alongside us, and if nothing else, they deserve our gratitude and respect.

“The President has stated that he ‘defeated ISIS in a month.’ That is simply untrue. The effort to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria began in 2015, with our agreement with the Kurds and other free democratic forces in Syria who agreed fight ISIS in support of our common goal.

“The Kurds have been shoved off their land, the strength of the Syrian Democratic Forces is severely weakened, and an obvious question remains: Who is going to help us fight ISIS in the region now? The President has given a range of answers, but the one he seems to have settled on is Russia. That is not reassuring. I urge the White House to work on a plan for how we’re going to confront ISIS in the region, and which partners and allies we’re going to work with. Our own national security depends on it.

“Finally, the President declaring victory in Syria is a gross misunderstanding of the situation. Once the Kurds realized they had no ability to fight Turkey and no one to help them, they surrendered instead of fighting. There is no victory here. Turkey invaded a foreign country and forced the Kurds off their land. This is a loss for U.S. interests in the region. Now, Russia and the Assad regime are stronger in the region. Most problematic, Iran is stronger in the region. The President has repeatedly talked about how bad Iran is and how we need to contain them. Now Iran finds a Syria that is completely amenable to their interests, which are contrary to U.S. interests. These recent developments highlight the necessity for a new comprehensive strategy for containing Iran. It is critical that we work with partners and allies in our continued fight against terror. Not doing so sends the wrong signal to our partners and allies everywhere.

“I personally thank the Kurdish people for all they have done and sacrificed for us in the fight against terrorism. I respect and honor our alliance with them and will do everything I can to try and help them rebuild.”

###