Press Releases

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) applauded passage of H.R. 2764, the fiscal year 2008 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill.  Smith voted for the bill, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday by a vote of 241 to 178.

“The House voted yesterday to live up to our moral obligations as the most powerful and prosperous nation on the planet.  The funds in this bill will save lives, slow the spread of disease and help developing countries get on their feet.  Further, these funds will aid our efforts to undercut drug traffickers and terrorists in Afghanistan,” Smith said.

H.R. 2764 provides $34.2 billion in discretionary spending for fiscal year 2008.  The bill makes key investments including:

  • $210.5 million for critical humanitarian and peacekeeping programs in Darfur, 90 percent more than the President’s request.  
  • $5.1 billion for HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and care programs around the world, which is 33 percent more than fiscal year 2007 and 13 percent more than the President’s request.  This includes $550 million for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, which President Bush failed to request.
  • $1.7 billion for development assistance, 15 percent more than fiscal year 2007 and 67 percent more than the President’s request.  These funds include $750 million in grants to organizations that support basic education programs, an increase of $200 million from the FY 2007 House-passed bill.  The bill also provides $300 million for safe water programs, including $100 million for a new initiative requiring the Administration to develop a strategy to help high-priority countries address their water issues.
  • More than $1 billion for reconstruction and counter-narcotics efforts in Afghanistan.  These funds include $235 million in counter-narcotics funding and $75 million for programs specifically related to helping women. 
  • $214 million for trade capacity building to help developing countries take advantage of international trade opportunities, $127 million more than the President requested. 
  • $50 million specifically for the prevention, control and treatment of extremely drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB).  The first reported outbreak of XDR-TB killed 52 of 53 infected patients, with half dying within 16 days of their diagnosis.  XDR-TB made U.S. headlines when an infected man from Georgia was able to reenter the country despite clear warnings to border entry points not to allow him to do so.

H.R. 2764 must now be considered by the Senate before it can be signed into law by the President.

 

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today applauded the veterans-related sections included in H.R. 2642, the fiscal year 2008 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act.  The bill passed by a vote of 409 - 2.

“The conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan create new veterans every day.  Our men and women are returning home with complex mental and physical wounds, and we must do more to help them.  This bill provides the largest increase for Veterans Administration (VA) funding in history to make sure these honorable Americans are cared for when they return home.” Smith said.

The passage of H.R. 2642 will, among other things, result in:

  • The hiring of more qualified doctors and nurses to improve medical services to our veterans;
  • Reduced waiting times for doctor appointments; and
  • More to help veterans suffering from traumatic brain injury (TBI), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), mental health care issues.

H.R. 2642 includes: 

  • VA funding $6.7 billion above the fiscal year 2007 level.  This increase surpasses the President’s request by $3.8 billion;
  • Funds for more than 1,100 new claims processors to reduce the huge backlog of disability and other claims on behalf of veterans;
  • Needed maintenance at VA health care faculties;
  • $600 million more than the President requested for mental health, PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury and makes five polytrauma centers and three Centers of Excellence for Mental Health and PTSD fully operational this year to care for those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, including those with TBI;
  • Permission for the Department of Veterans Affairs to transfer up to $15 million for a joint program to improve access to care to ensure a seamless transition from the Defense Department to the VA, particularly for veterans suffering from TBI or PTSD; and
  • Development and operational funds for a toll-free telephone and web-based hotline for veterans to report on deficiencies in VA medical facilities and care. 

The Senate must now consider similar legislation before the bill can be signed into law by the President.

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) released the following statement this evening after voting against the compromise version of the emergency war supplemental bill, which would fund the President’s military policies in Iraq through September:

“This was an agonizingly difficult vote for me.  I was forced to choose between two options when I supported neither.

I support a phased withdrawal from Iraq over the course of the next year, leaving the much smaller number of troops necessary to train Iraqi forces and confront the threat posed by Al Qaeda in Iraq.  I believe our occupation both makes it more difficult for Iraq to reach a political solution to their conflict and undermines our broader, global efforts to fight Al Qaeda, the ideology they espouse, and those who follow either or both.  And it is painfully clear at this point that U.S. troops in any number cannot stop or even significantly reduce the violence in Iraq.

We should be more focused on confronting Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, Pakistan, throughout Africa and all the other places where they are attempting to gain power.  This is an effort that would mainly involve diplomacy, and a comprehensive effort to defeat this dangerous ideology by understanding local cultures and winning the battle of ideas. In certain situations and locations, it also involves small scale military actions.  The broader efforts that I’m describing are in fact undermined by our presence in Iraq.  We should not have nearly 200,000 U.S. troops bogged down in the middle of a civil war in Iraq, occupying a Muslim country and further inflaming the already tense relationship between the Muslim world and the West.

I have voted for bills that, to varying degrees, supported this vital new direction in Iraq several times.  The President vetoed one such bill, the Senate did not pass another, and a third did not get the votes to pass the House.

I do not, however, believe that we should cut off funding for our troops while the President stubbornly insists on keeping them there.  There is an enormous difference between the phased withdrawal described above, and a chaotic retreat driven by a lack of funding or a situation where our troops must continue to fight despite not having the resources they need.

The big difference of opinion in this debate at this point is over when precisely our troops will begin to lack the resources they need if we in Congress have not passed this supplemental funding bill. 

Some have argued that the Pentagon has the legal power to borrow as much money as they need no matter what Congress does.  Whether true or not I do not want to set the precedent that our military can go on fighting on borrowed money even if Congress stops appropriating money for whatever war is being fought.

Even without this borrowing authority, most agree our military has adequate resources until mid-July without impacting military readiness.  After that time, a lack of new funds could begin progressively to affect military readiness as bases in the U.S. would have to start cutting or delaying non-war related budget items – from equipment repairs to facilities upkeep – in order to fund operations in Iraq. 

So that is the choice this vote presented.  Continue funding a horribly flawed policy or run the risk of leading the military to have to tighten its belt here at home. 

I ultimately decided to vote no on the legislation in order to keep the pressure on the President and his Republican supporters in Congress over the next several weeks.  I believe we must do everything we can to change the course in Iraq, and Congress should keep pushing for that change as long as our troops won’t be harmed by the lack of funds.

This vote is one more step in the ongoing debate regarding how best to redeploy our troops from Iraq – it is the latest, but not the final, say on this critically important issue.  I fully expect this matter to come before the Congress again in the coming weeks and months.  I will continue to work to ensure that our troops are not only protected but also able to exit Iraq quickly and safely.”

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today voted for H.R. 1585, the fiscal year 2008 National Defense Authorization Act.  The bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 397 to 27.  Smith chairs the Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee, which wrote the portion of the bill providing our special operations forces the tools and support they need to better fight al-Qaeda.

“The Defense Authorization passed today finally addresses one of the worst outcomes of the President’s failed Iraq policies:  the degradation of our military readiness.  Our bill begins to address the training and equipment shortfalls faced by our Armed Services by providing more than $1.25 billion beyond the President’s request for readiness needs,” Smith said.

Smith continued: “Our bill will also take better care of our service members and reservists.  This bill will increase their pay, improve health care and reduce bureaucratic obstacles for wounded troops, and provide more reintegration assistance to Guard and Reserve members returning to civilian life.  These changes are essential in light of the increased burden we ask our military families to bear on our behalf.”

“The Defense bill also brings more accountability to the Administration’s Iraq policy.  Congress will not simply take the President’s word that ‘we’re making progress.’  When this measure becomes law, the President will be required to submit detailed reports to Congress on progress – or the lack thereof – so that we can assess next steps for changing the direction in Iraq,” Smith said.

The 2008 National Defense Authorization Act includes provisions that: 

  • Authorize $13.6 billion for the Army and $8.4 billion for the Marine Corps to address equipment reset requirements, $1 billion for National Guard and Reserve equipment from their unfunded requirements list and $250 million to address training shortfalls throughout the services;
  • Authorize two significant initiatives to improve readiness:  the Defense Readiness Production Board and the Strategic Readiness Fund, a $1 billion fund for critical readiness requirements identified by the Board;
  • Require detailed reports from commanders in Iraq on the situation on the ground and contingency plans should the current strategy be deemed unsustainable;
  • Provide $4.1 billion to purchase MRAP (mine-resistant, ambush-protected) vehicles to protect our troops against the single greatest cause of U.S. troop fatalities in Iraq – improvised explosive devices;
  • Expand and strengthen counter-proliferation programs including the National Nuclear Security Administration nonproliferation programs and the Department of Defense Cooperative Threat Reduction Program; 
  • Empower the National Guard with enhanced authorities to fulfill its expanded role in the nation’s defense;
  • Raise the military pay rate for all ranks by 3.5 percent;
  • Reject the President’s proposed fee increases for TRICARE; and
  • Establish a national program to provide better support National Guard and Reserve service members and their families as they reintegrate into civilian life.

On Fighting Terrorism:

“Our special operations forces lead the fight against terrorist groups in more than a dozen countries, and one of their most important missions is to establish relationships with local populations and prevent al-Qaeda from gaining a foothold in the first place.  This bill will finally provide needed emphasis on U.S. Special Operations Command’s (SOCOM) vital indirect action work,” Smith said.

“Our bill supports the continued expansion of our special operations forces, encourages SOCOM and the Defense Department to better address unconventional threats such as terrorist networks, and improves the Department??s ability to harness technological innovation.”

The terrorism subcommittee’s $23.3 billion portion of the bill:

  • Fully funds the President’s request for SOCOM;
  • Funds or partially funds an additional five SOCOM priorities left unfunded in the President’s budget, including resources for advanced body armor and night vision equipment;
  • Gives proper weight to SOCOM’s indirect action work and prioritizes unconventional warfare as the top priority of SOCOM;
  • Requires SOCOM to present a plan to meet their unconventional warfare requirements and an annual report to Congress;
  • Authorizes additional funds for “irregular warfare support” research and development activities, with the aims of better understanding jihadi strategies, improving our understanding of various cultures where terrorists seek a foothold, and developing creative countermeasures to frustrate terrorist groups;
  • Establishes a demonstration program to help the Defense Department more rapidly and aggressively seek out cutting edge commercial information technologies and put them to use for our military; and
  • Fully funds DARPA and the Defense Department’s basic research accounts.

Internet Links to High-Resolution Photos*:
Smith speaks to reporters at a press conference announcing the passage of H.R. 1585:  http://www.house.gov/adamsmith/photos/hires_skeltonpresser3.jpg

Smith, along with U.S. Rep. Solomon Ortiz (D-Texas) and House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.), explains the terrorism provisions in H.R. 1585: http://www.house.gov/adamsmith/photos/hires_skeltonpresser4.jpg

* All photos provided courtesy of the Office of U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.).

More information on the Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee can be found at http://www.house.gov/list/press/wa09_smith/morenews/chair.html

The bill must be approved by the Senate before the President can sign it into law.

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today issued the following statement on the bipartisan trade policy agreement reached late yesterday between Congress and the Administration.  The agreement paves the way forward for trade pacts including the Peru and Panama Free Trade Agreements.

“I have supported trade because of the economic benefits, but I have been concerned that we have not done enough to protect workers’ rights and the environment.  Chairman Rangel and others have done a good job hammering out a good template for trade that addresses both of these issues.  All parties to the negotiations should be commended for their patience and good-faith efforts to craft good trade policies,” Smith said.

Under the agreement, free trade agreements currently pending will be altered to include important Democratic priorities, including provisions that will:

  • Protect core labor standards;
  • Preserve the environment;
  • Speed the delivery of generic drugs;
  • Empower U.S. state and federal governments to use labor standards and acceptable work and wage conditions as criteria for the approval of procurement contracts;
  • Protect U.S. investors’ rights within the United States; and
  • Assist workers and communities who lose jobs due to trade and technology through education and other benefits.