Press Releases

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, along with the entire Democratic Washington delegation, sent Secretary of State Antony Blinken a letter regarding the effort to evacuate American citizens, U.S. legal permanent residents, other foreign nationals, and Afghans at risk out of Afghanistan. The letter outlines several actions that the Members urge the Department of State to take as they navigate the evacuation process.
 
“Over the last few weeks, our offices have heard from Afghan Americans living in Washington, international non-profit organizations, former service members and other individuals residing in our state working to evacuate families, colleagues, and loved ones from Afghanistan. As the State Department leads evacuation efforts, we urge you to consider the following actions” the Members wrote.
 
The Members call for thirteen concrete steps to help ensure the continued evacuation of individuals at risk in Afghanistan. This includes appointing a Special Enjoy at the State Department to lead and coordinate evacuation efforts with the international community and improving communication and collaboration with civil society groups working to evacuate employees and their families. The letter also urges the State Department to expedite and improve the processing of Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) and P-1, P-2, and P-3 referrals and ensure U.S. evacuation support all Afghans at-risk such as those working on women’s rights, journalists, promoters of human rights, and aid workers by making full use of humanitarian parole authorities.
 
The members continued, “We recognize the unprecedented nature of the evacuation efforts out of Afghanistan and greatly appreciate the tireless work by State Department and other U.S. government personnel. We stand ready to support you in Congress with any additional resources or authorizations necessary.”
 
A full copy of the letter can be found here.
 
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.), along with the Democratic Washington delegation, sent Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas and Acting Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Tae Johnson a letter regarding the health and safety of detained people and staff at the Northwest ICE Processing Center (NWIPC) following repeated COVID-19 outbreaks at the facility.
 
“We have received multiple reports concerning the conditions of confinement and a consistent lack of, or refusal to adhere to, evidence-based health mitigation measures in the facility as well as during the process of transferring individuals to the facility. These actions have endangered detained migrants and staff in the ICE detention center, leading to the current major outbreak and continued spread of COVID-19 at the facility,” the members said.

 
Since early June, there have been more than 300 COVID-19 cases at the NWIPC.  Unfortunately, this is not the first instance that unsafe conditions have been reported at the NWIPC, as years of personal interviews with individuals and reports have uncovered inadequate medical care, poor nutrition, unsanitary living conditions, and the exploitation of labor.
 
“We understand that state and local public health officials have made requests and suggestions to mitigate against outbreaks within the NWIPC and improve coordination during the release of individuals from NWIPC. We also strongly encourage DHS to exercise its discretion to utilize alternatives to detention and prioritize the release of individuals, especially vulnerable individuals and those at higher medical risk, who do not need to be in detention,” the members continued. “We are gravely concerned about the health and safety of detained people and staff at the Northwest ICE Processing Center. The lack of adequate safety protocols during transfer, unsafe and cramped living conditions, and failure to adhere to recommendations on masking has fed into the growing COVID-19 outbreak and continued spread within the facility.  
 
“The federal government has an obligation to protect the health, safety, and rights of detained individuals and the wellbeing of the staff, families, and the surrounding communities of ICE detention centers. We urge DHS and ICE to take steps to review and improve current practices in transferring and maintaining the health and safety of people within detention at the NWIPC,” the members concluded.

 
A full copy of the letter can be found here.
 
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.) voted to pass H.R. 3755, the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA) of 2021, which would create federal protections against state restrictions that aim to limit a person’s rights to abortion and abortion care. The WHPA would create a right for health care providers to provide abortion care, and a right for patients to receive that care, free from medically unnecessary restrictions that impede abortion access.
 
“Today I was incredibly proud to vote to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act to protect the right to equal access to abortion for every person in our country, regardless of where they live. Personal decisions about a person’s body should be left between the person and their doctor – a precedent established by the Supreme Court ruling of Roe v. Wade (1973) – period, full stop.
 
“However, in recent years we have seen unconstitutional and cruel state legislation that deliberately violates the rights codified in Roe that have successfully undermined or functionally eliminated access to abortion. As a result, access to both abortion care and reproductive health services have suffered. People should not have to depend on their zip code or socioeconomic status to access the full suite of reproductive health care options they are guaranteed under the Constitution.  As hundreds of these aggressive, invasive, and unconstitutional laws are introduced across the country one thing is abundantly clear: urgent Congressional action is in dire need.
 
“Today House Democrats rose to the occasion and for the first time in nearly 30 years Congress has taken proactive action to protect every person’s right to control their own health care. Now the Senate must take up this critical legislation to prevent the evisceration of abortion access.”
 
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, today released the following statement after the House of Representatives passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22), the annual defense bill that he leads in his role as Chairman.
 
“The FY22 NDAA is an excellent piece of legislation that makes transformational policy changes with direct benefits for our service members and their families. The NDAA also represents the legislative process at its best. This year, like every year, we worked for months to identify policies where we agree, and where we don’t, and engaged in thorough, thoughtful debate on all of them.
 
“Thanks to the hard work of Democrats, the bill includes a number of incredibly important provisions. The bill makes dramatic reforms to the Uniform Code of Military Justice to address the scourge of sexual assault in our military – an issue that Congress and our military has failed our service members on until now. Specifically, the bill removes the Commander from decisions related to the prosecution of special victim crimes and criminalizes sexual harassment and violent extremism under the Uniform Code of Military Justice – two huge steps that will better protect service members.
 
“In the face of the climate crisis, the FY22 NDAA builds on ongoing efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote green energy, and enhance energy resiliency within the military. In addition to increased investments in the research and development of green energy technologies, the bill requires the Department of Defense to consider the need for electric vehicle infrastructure at military bases and installations, establishes a new program that will promote long-duration energy storage projects, and promotes the use of sustainable aviation fuel to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from aviation. Together, these and other climate-focused provisions will help reduce the DoD’s carbon footprint.
 
“I am pleased the NDAA once again includes historic legislation to protect public lands. It would designate millions of acres of public lands as wilderness or potential wilderness areas, preserving and protecting these public lands to improve biodiversity, safeguard water quality, and protect wildlife habitat. This includes legislation from Congressman Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.) to protect roughly 131,000 acres of public lands and add over 450 miles to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System on Washington's Olympic Peninsula.
 
“This year’s NDAA also addresses one of our most pressing foreign policy needs: support for evacuation and relocation efforts from Afghanistan. The bill repurposes billions of dollars to help support our ongoing diplomatic mission to help bring Afghans who may be in danger to safety – whether these Afghans supported the U.S. military, or worked on humanitarian and human rights issues, they deserve our support. This bill gives necessary resources to help make that support a reality.
 
“The country continues to grapple with racism and extremism, and the Department of Defense is not immune. As such, the bill builds on last year’s NDAA to continue to promote a more diverse, inclusive fighting force and equips the DoD with the tools necessary to combat extremism in the ranks by establishing an Office of Countering Extremism. It once again includes increased funding for research and development and partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Minority Institutions (HBCUs).
 
“The Department of Defense has a critical role to play in addressing PFAS contamination in and around our communities. This bill includes historic funding, over $500 million, for the cleanup of these forever chemicals at military instillations. The bill requires the Department of Defense to use enforceable state standards when they are more strict than federal regulations, establishes a 2-year deadline for completion of PFAS testing at Department of Defense and National Guard installations, and requires the Department to report on the status of clean-up at 50 PFAS sites across the country.
 
“It is past time to close Guantanamo Bay, and the FY22 NDAA does not include the arbitrary statutory prohibitions on transfer of detainees out of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, which currently hinders progress toward its closure. This will enable President Biden to take long overdue steps to close Guantanamo Bay.
 
“The NDAA continues Congressional efforts to improve U.S. policy towards the conflict in Yemen and ensure the Department is not providing support to Saudi Arabia for offensive actions against the Houthis. President Biden has rightfully reoriented U.S. policy in the conflict in Yemen and I strongly support this Administration’s focus on urging all parties to engage in a political resolution to the conflict and alleviating the humanitarian crisis.
 
“The bill prioritizes our service members and their families by supporting a basic pay increase of 2.7 percent and by allowing the Secretary of Defense to pay a basic needs allowance to a qualified service member. Together, these policies will help protect our service members against hunger and help them pay their bills. These brave men and women who are serving our country, and who are willing to pay the ultimate price to keep us safe, deserve the support this bill provides.
 
“Finally, the NDAA also carries critical affordable housing legislation that I have championed: the Promoting Affordable Housing Near Transit Act. Once enacted this bill will help facilitate creative ways to develop new, affordable housing units near city centers or along accessible transit lines. Specifically, my legislation will allow transit entities to partner with community-driven organizations to utilize currently unused land and build affordable, transit-accessible housing for those who need it most. As housing costs continue to rise in urban areas – including King County – we must get creative about securing affordability, and I am proud to have successfully included my bill in this year’s NDAA.”
 
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SEATTLE, WA – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, today released the following statement after President Biden signed an Executive Order to address the ongoing conflict in northern Ethiopia.
 
“The ongoing conflict in northern Ethiopia has created one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world, and I am glad to see the Biden-Harris administration take additional steps to urge an end to this violence. It is critical that all parties to the conflict immediately move towards a negotiated ceasefire and political resolution. The United States, African Union, United Nations, and other international parties continue to provide ample opportunities to facilitate this dialogue. In addition, actions that inhibit the flow of humanitarian aid must end and telecommunications and other basic services should be restored. 
 
“The violence must stop now. I fully support the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to help bring a resolution to this conflict, hold leaders of all parties to the conflict accountable, and restore humanitarian aid to those who so desperately need it.”
 
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