Press Releases

Washington, DC – Today, the House Committee on Natural Resources passed unanimously the Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Area Act (H.R. 1791). Bill authors, Representatives Dave Reichert (R-WA) and Adam Smith (D-WA) applauded this action.

“In Washington State, we know full well that the spectacular landscape of the Mountains to Sound Greenway is worthy of national recognition,” said Rep. Reichert. “This morning’s vote shows that my colleagues here in Congress understand that as well. I am proud to see this bill move forward, so the Greenway receives the official recognition it deserves. The Greenway benefits Washingtonians and visitors from around the world, which is why it is important to honor this beautiful land. I thank Chairman Bishop for his work on this bill, and look forward to its consideration by the full House.”

“I am pleased to see the House Natural Resources Committee voted unanimously to pass H.R. 1791, legislation I have co-sponsored with Congressman Reichert,” said Rep. Adam Smith. “The designation of Washington’s Mountains to Sound Greenway – over 1.5 million acres of land stretching from Seattle to Ellensburg – as a National Heritage Area will help preserve and promote the area’s scenery, resources and history for future generations.  I thank Congressman Reichert for his leadership and the passionate community members with the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust for their support of this important piece of legislation. I hope to see this legislation brought to the House floor for a vote in the near future.”

This legislation was first introduced by Representatives Reichert and Smith in the 113th Congress as H.R. 1785, the Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Area Act. In November of 2014, the House Committee on Natural Resources passed the bill, but the full House never considered it. In the same Congress, the Senate companion legislation passed out of Committee, but it did not receive consideration on the Senate floor.

After receiving feedback over the past four years, Reps. Reichert and Smith reintroduced an improved and strengthened bill in March of 2017. This new bill (H.R. 1791) includes important protections for individual rights, private property owners, and tribal communities. It has the support of over 6,000 individuals and groups from government agencies and officials, businesses, outdoor recreation groups, and conservation and heritage organizations, including the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust and Outdoor Alliance.

“Our region is a model for the nation. We’ve built a booming economy, while simultaneously conserving the Pacific Northwest's iconic mountains, forests, rivers, and lakes. Designating the Mountains to Sound Greenway as a National Heritage Area celebrates this unique approach of economy and environment working in concert, not in conflict." said Jon Hoekstra, Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust Executive Director. "We applaud Congressmen Reichert and Smith for their dedication to and leadership on this effort over the years and look forward to helping achieve this legacy accomplishment.”

Rep. Reichert and former Washington Senator Slade Gorton testified before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands last month on H.R. 1791. A bipartisan group of members from the King County Council attended the hearing in support of the legislation, including King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn, who also submitted a letter of support for the bill.

###

Washington, D.C. – Today, House Armed Services Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA) made the following statement about President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran:
 
“This decision will make us less safe by allowing Iran to quickly acquire a nuclear weapon, separating us from our allies, and fueling instability in the region. The JCPOA has so far been successful in preventing Iran from advancing toward the acquisition of nuclear weapons. It did not cover issues such as ballistic missiles or Iranian support for terrorism, but President Trump has offered no alternative that would do a better job at securing America’s vital security interest in preventing a nuclear-armed Iran while avoiding the possibility of an unnecessary and potentially catastrophic clash. Without question, this decision runs the risk of far greater conflict and in the short term, at a minimum, far greater destabilization of the Middle East.”

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, seven House Democratic national security leaders sent a letter to Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen and Defense Secretary James Mattis to oppose President Trump’s recent decision to deploy National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border. Given the potential cost and with border crossings at a 40-year low, the Administration must provide a thorough justification and plan for any deployment of troops and use of taxpayer funds. News reports indicate the Administration is only now drafting a deployment plan, indicating how rushed this decision was, while some governors have now begun committing troops for this operation.

The letter was signed by House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith, Committee on Homeland Security Ranking Member Bennie G. Thompson, Judiciary Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler, Oversight & Government Reform Ranking Member Elijah E. Cummings, Homeland Security Border & Maritime Security Ranking Member Filemon Vela, Judiciary Immigration & Border Security Subcommittee Ranking Member Zoe Lofgren, and Oversight & Government Reform National Security Subcommittee Ranking Member Stephen F. Lynch.

In the letter, the Members write:

“A deployment of this kind is not to be made lightly. Thorough consideration of the justification for such a deployment, along with the implications and costs for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Defense (DOD), and affected stakeholders well in advance of such a deployment are both required and essential.”

“As you are undoubtedly aware, border security has been a rigorously discussed topic over the past year. We are surprised and puzzled as to why neither of you nor other members of the Administration mentioned a possible deployment of the National Guard to the southern border before. For example, Secretary Nielsen never once mentioned the potential need to use the National Guard for border security purposes when testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on January 16, 2018. In subsequent press briefings and televised Cabinet meetings, this approach was not discussed either.”

“A hastily and poorly designed deployment could have significant negative impacts on our national security, border security, and on the communities located along the U.S.-Mexico border.”

Link to Letter.

#  #  #

Washington, DC – Today, House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA), Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Jack Reed (D-RI), House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee Ranking Member Jackie Speier (D-CA), and Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee Ranking Member Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) sent a letter to Secretary of Defense James Mattis requesting additional details about the process by which the Department of Defense (DOD) developed the policy recommendations regarding transgender service members that were provided to President Trump in a memorandum dated February 22, 2018. The letter reads:

Dear Secretary Mattis:

We write today to ask for additional details about the recommendations you provided to the President in a Memorandum dated February 22, 2018, regarding military service by transgender individuals.  We were surprised and disappointed by the recommendations contained in that memorandum.  In our view, these recommendations contradict previous findings from the Department of Defense (DOD) and the professional medical community.  As the President has empowered you to implement appropriate policies governing service by transgender individuals, we feel it imperative that we explore the factual bases behind your recommendations.     

            Your letter to the President stated you created a Panel of Experts of senior uniformed and civilian Defense Department leaders and charged them to provide their best military advice without regard to any external factors.  Although you state that the panel received input from civilian medical professionals, the recommendations appear to us to be inconsistent with what we have heard from the civilian medical community.  Numerous recognized experts, former military officials and Surgeons General, and organizations representing medical professionals have released statements criticizing the Report’s recommendations and the underlying scientific basis for these recommendations.

Relying on recognized experts and gathering diverse opinions and perspectives is crucial to the development of an informed and sound policy. Given the discrepancies between the Report’s recommendations and assessments of transgender military service previously made by DOD, and given the concerns raised by outside medical professionals and former military leaders, we would like to better understand the process by which DOD developed the Report. Specifically, we would like to know:

  1. Who was on the Panel of Experts?
  2. Who did the Panel consult with?
  3. Did the Panel consult with the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, or American Medical Association or any other medical professionals with expertise in gender dysphoria?
  4. In your view, what are the substantial risks associated with the accessions and retention of transgender persons? Can you please provide any examples that since June 30, 2016 these issues have arisen within the military and describe how the DOD or services handled these situations?
  5. In your view, what are the specific issues that could undermine readiness, disrupt unit cohesion, and impose an unreasonable burden on the military? Can you please provide any examples that since June 30, 2016 these issues have arisen within the military and describe how the DOD or services handled these situations?
  6. Were any government officials outside of DOD or the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) involved in the Report or your Memorandum to the President? If so, who were these officials and what was the basis for their involvement?

Finally, please provide the specific medical and scientific data that supported the conclusions contained in your memorandum.

There are currently thousands of transgender individuals openly serving in the military with bravery and distinction. There has been no indication that this has had an impact on overall readiness. All individuals who are willing and qualified should be able to volunteer to serve, regardless of their gender identity. Since the wars began, the military services have appropriately moved away from identity-based service standards (including restrictions concerning sexual preference and gender) and have opted instead to rely on performance-based metrics; if you can do the job, you can compete for the job.  Your policy recommendations, if implemented, would reverse this progress.  Moreover, any ban on capable individuals serving in our military only shrinks the pool of available recruits and denies our military access to the skills, expertise, and experience of qualified servicemembers and talented recruits.

            We appreciate you giving due consideration to our questions and concerns and would welcome the opportunity to discuss this matter with you.  

The full letter is attached, and a link to the letter can be found here.

 

“With the passing of Rev. Dr. Samuel B. McKinney, our community has lost an instrumental leader of the civil rights movement.  After moving to Seattle in 1957 to become a pastor in the historic Mount Zion Baptist Church, Reverend McKinney was a pastor in the church for over 40 years. A former classmate of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, he played a fundamental role in Dr. King’s trip to Seattle.

“As spiritual leader for many in the African-American community in Seattle, Reverend McKinney understood that for African-Americans to be fully empowered, they must be supported and uplifted economically. When he arrived in Seattle, he witnessed systematic injustices such as discrimination, redlining, high unemployment among African-Americans. Reverend McKinney established numerous organizations and businesses to combat discrimination.  He helped establish the first black-owned bank to challenge practices such as restricted loans. He also co-founded the Seattle Opportunities Industrialization Center, a vocational training organization. Though Reverend McKinney has passed away, his legacy and advocacy for equal rights of African-Americans will remain ever present in the Greater Seattle community.”