Press Releases

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) issued the following statement on Independence Day 2008:

“On Independence Day, we are mindful of those who serve or served in our Armed Forces.  We honor the sacrifices that they and their families make in defense of our country.  I have had many opportunities at home and overseas to witness their devotion to duty, their professionalism, and their courage in the midst of the conflicts in which we have asked them to fight.  

“Here in Washington’s 9th Congressional District we are especially proud of and thankful for the service of our Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base service members.  Everyone should take a moment today to be thankful that these brave men and women are willing and ready to stand between our liberty and the enemies that threaten them.”

 

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today issued the following statement in response to the attempted terrorist attack on Scotland’s busiest airport in Glasgow.  Today's attack followed the discovery yesterday of two cars laden with explosives in London, and authorities in the United Kingdom believe the two incidents are linked.  Smith chairs the terrorism subcommittee on the House Armed Services Committee.

“These attempted attacks in the U.K. illustrate the challenge we face in the fight against terrorist networks:  these groups are not just in Iraq or Afghanistan.  We have to be ready to pursue them wherever they may take root and stop them before they strike.  But most importantly, we have to actively confront the ideology that drives people to plan and execute these attacks against us and our allies.”

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.”