Press Releases

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) issued the following statement regarding the suicide bombing that killed Benazir Bhutto and dozens of others at a rally in Pakistan.  Smith chairs the terrorism subcommittee on the House Armed Services Committee and is a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee:

“The horrendous mass murder of dozens of Pakistanis today – including former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto – is a tragedy for all of us who value democracy.  Madam Bhutto fought for democratic reforms in the face of numerous attempts on her life, and her courage in the face of repression inspired reformers all over the world.  I offer my deepest condolences to the people of Pakistan, and especially to those who lost loved ones in today’s tragedy.

“This kind of cowardly, criminal violence is absolutely unacceptable, and those responsible must be found and brought to justice.  Bhutto and her fellow reformers fought to make exactly this kind of outrageous action obsolete within the context of Pakistan’s political life, and the United States and our allies must renew our commitment to this vital area of the world so that terrorists and political extremism do not carry the day. 

“I urge the government of Pakistan to respond to this tragedy with a renewed commitment to the rule of law, starting with free, fair elections for which Madam Bhutto and her reformers gave so much.”

 

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) issued the following statement regarding the fiscal year 2008 omnibus appropriations measure:

“This legislation is far from perfect, but it reflects our best efforts to fund the priorities of the American people.  I am encouraged that Congress was able to reverse some of the President’s proposed cuts to key programs.  I was also able to help secure funding for key South Sound initiatives in this legislation,” Smith said.

Overall, the legislation approved by the House makes significant improvements to the President’s budget request.  The legislation reverses proposed cuts to essential programs, including:

  • $1.8 billion for Homeland Security grants, recognizing that fighting terrorism must be a top priority.
  • $1.7 billion for Pell Grants and other student aid programs.
  • $1.2 billion for state and local law enforcement.
  • $1 billion for health care access, including increases to programs like Community Health Centers to provide 280,000 more underinsured Americans with access to health care and High Risk Insurance Pools to help 200,000 more people afford health insurance.
  • $767 million for K-12 education, including funds for Title 1, Special Education, Teacher Quality Grants, After School Programs, and Head Start.
  • $575 million for technical training at high schools and community colleges.
  • $486 million for energy efficiency and renewable fuel sources, including solar energy, wind energy, and biofuels.

A list of South Sound projects funded in the omnibus bill can be found at http://www.house.gov/adamsmith/news/2008earmarks/earmarklist.shtml.

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today issued the following statement after voting against legislation to provide $70 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan with no constraints on the President’s policies.  Smith voted earlier this week for legislation to provide $31 billion for Afghanistan operations.  Smith also introduced a resolution today calling for an increased commitment in Afghanistan:

“We absolutely have to refocus on the rising violence in Afghanistan and the resurgence of terrorists that hit us on 9/11, and that cannot happen until we change course in Iraq.  The President’s policies would leave us tied up in a continued, costly occupation with no plan to reduce our presence below January 2007 levels. I firmly believe the President’s Iraq policy must change, and I voted ‘no’ for that purpose.

“This was a difficult vote for me.  I do not support cutting off funds for our troops while they are in combat, but that was not the decision before the House today.  We have months before Defense Department funds would begin to run out, months we should use to continue to pressure the President to change course.”

 

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today introduced H. Res. 911 in the House of Representatives calling for an increased commitment in Afghanistan to stem rising violence and confront resurgent Taliban and al-Qaida terrorists.  The bill – cosponsored by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) – makes it clear that such an increase cannot occur until we reduce our troop presence in Iraq.

“The simple message I hear from our troops and commanders is that we do not have enough people or resources on the ground to secure Afghanistan.  The country is roughly the same size and population as Iraq and served as a haven for those that actually hit us on 9/11.  And yet, despite all this, and despite a resurgent Taliban and al-Qaida, the administration decided that Afghanistan is only worth one-sixth of the troop commitment compared to Iraq,” Smith said.

"Afghanistan is central to the fight against terrorism, and we can no longer afford to have our attention and resources diverted from that important mission. This bill is crucial to ensuring that long overdue resources are reallocated from Iraq to Afghanistan. I congratulate Congressman Smith on developing such a responsible piece of legislation and look forward to working with him to see that it becomes law," Skelton said.

The Administration’s current policies for Iraq and Afghanistan create a massive mismatch in our commitments:

  • Since September 11, 2001, the U.S. spent on foreign aid and diplomatic activities in Afghanistan and other Operation Enduring Freedom countries 31 cents for every dollar spent on similar activities in Iraq.
  • The U.S. maintains approximately 25,000 troops in Afghanistan, compared to more than 160,000 troops in Iraq.  Our continued, costly Iraq occupation precludes a sufficient troop increase in Afghanistan to confront a rising tide of violence.

The security situation in Afghanistan is dire.  The United Nations reports that thus far 2007 is the most violent year in Afghanistan since 2001, with suicide bombings up 69 percent in the first eight months of the year compared with the same period last year.  Al-Qaida regenerated much of its ability to attack the U.S. and has a haven in the Pakistan Federally Administred Tribal Areas (FATA) along the Afghanistan border.  The Taliban spread into new areas of the country and is believed to be working with al-Qaida leaders.

To respond to these alarming developments, H. Res. 911 calls for the U.S., in partnership with our allies, to:

  • Strengthen our long-term commitment to secure and stabilize Afghanistan and contribute the necessary levels of economic, civilian, and military resources;
  • Increase military force levels in Afghanistan to a level sufficient to significantly improve security and stability in the country, prevent the return of a haven for al-Qaida and the Taliban, and enhance the ability of the Afghan National Security Forces to maintain long-term security and stability;
  • Free up resources for Afghanistan by responsibly redeploying military forces in Iraq not essential for counterterrorism activities, training and equipping Iraqi security forces, or protection of United States citizens and facilities.

The full text of the resolution can be found at http://www.house.gov/adamsmith/afghanistanvsiraq.pdf.

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today voted to support our troops in harm’s way and their families at home by supporting H.R. 1585, the fiscal year 2008 Defense Authorization Conference Report.  The bill passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 370 to 49. 

“Our troops and their families continue to shoulder enormous burdens on our behalf.  I was proud today to vote for legislation that recognizes the sacrifices they make for our country.  This bill will also help repair our military readiness and reequip our National Guard,” Smith said.

Supporting Our Troops in Harm’s Way

“Our troops continue to do a fantastic job in very dangerous environments in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Congress is doing all we can to make sure they have the greatest degree of safety possible.  The legislation we passed today authorized billions of dollars in funds for more MRAPs, up-armored Humvees, counter measures for improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and new body armor,” Smith said.

Restoring Our Military Readiness

The conference report also addressees one of the worst results of the President’s Iraq policies: the degradation of our military readiness. The legislation passed by the U.S. Congress today addresses the drop in readiness by:

  • Providing $980 million for National Guard equipment.  Much of the Guard’s equipment was sent to support operations in Iraq.  The bill also mandates rating and reporting of National Guard readiness for missions inside the United States.  These provisions will be critical for ensuring the emergency response capability of the Washington National Guard.
  • Authorizing $1 billion for the Strategic Readiness Fund to allow for rapid replacement of needed equipment.
    Establishing the Defense Materiel Readiness Board, mandating a detailed report on readiness.

Supporting Our Military Families

“This bill sets policies that will better support our military families strained by repeated, lengthy deployments.  The bill increases military pay by 3.5 percent, prohibits fee increases under TRICARE, and provides better benefits for troops and families,” Smith said.

The conference report includes the Wounded Warrior Act, which would improve care for injured troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.  The Walter Reed Army Medical Center scandal revealed major gaps in care for wounded service members.  The Act implements several recommendations of the commission set up to review shortcomings revealed by the scandal.

Increasing Accountability in Contracts

The defense authorization conference report improves accountability and cracks down on waste, fraud and abuse in contracting, including requiring new steps to manage and oversee contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan.