Reps. Smith, Price, Welch and Over 100 House Democrats Urge Trump Administration to Reverse Decision To Slash Critical Aid for Regional Stability in the Middle East
In a letter to Secretary Pompeo, 112 House Democrats call for reinstating UNRWA funding as well as humanitarian and economic bilateral foreign aid to the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem
October 2, 2018
September 28, 2018
Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Adam Smith introduced the Social Security Equity Act, legislation to provide relief to some of those workers and retirees who see their Social Security benefits reduced because of the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP).
The Social Security Equity Act helps to keep many workers and retirees from experiencing benefit cuts due to the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). The WEP reduces payments to many retirees who split their careers between jobs that were covered by Social Security and in positions where they earned even minimal public pension benefits.
“Hard-working Americans should not experience a significant hit to their Social Security benefits because they happened to work for an employer that provided a pension, in addition to facing low wages, inconsistent work opportunities, or the need to take time away from work. By simply changing the WEP formula, Congress can make this aspect of Social Security less regressive and allow more retirees to collect full Social Security payments,” said Congressman Adam Smith.
First implemented in 1983 as part of broader efforts to bolster the Social Security program’s finances, the WEP was intended to reduce excess benefits, or “windfalls,” accruing to workers who spent much of their career earning a pension instead of paying into the Social Security program—in jobs most often found in the public sector—but who also received benefits from relatively short tenures in Social Security-covered employment.
Unfortunately, the WEP disproportionally hurts those who earned lower wages and experienced less consistent employment outside of jobs where pensions were available. Receiving even a small pension from relatively brief employment not covered by Social Security places those who did not work full-time, earned lower wages at Social Security-covered jobs, took time away from work to care for loved ones, or those forced to go on disability, at risk of being hit by the WEP. For example, a public school teacher who earned a modest pension from a teaching position that was not covered by Social Security, then took a number of years away from work to care for a family member, and returned to work in part-time and relatively low paying positions for the remainder of their career, could see their Social Security benefits reduced under the WEP.
To avoid these cuts, retirees must have worked long enough and made enough each year in Social Security-covered employment to qualify for an exemption. In many years, full time work for the full calendar year at the federal minimum wage would still not be enough to help that worker avoid the WEP when he or she retires.
The Social Security Equity Act reduces, from 30 to 25, the number of years in Social Security-covered employment required to become exempt from the WEP. The bill also decreases the annual earnings threshold for each of those years to count toward a WEP exemption—also known as the substantial earnings floor.
By lowering barriers to achieving a WEP exemption, this legislation provides WEP relief to more retirees of blended career histories and will allow retirees to receive more of their Social Security benefits.
HASC Ranking Member Adam Smith, Rep. Ro Khanna, CPC Co-Chair Mark Pocan Introduce War Powers Resolution to End U.S. Military in Involvement in Yemen
September 26, 2018
Washington, DC – Today, House Armed Services Ranking Member Adam Smith joined more than a dozen of his colleagues in the House of Representatives in introducing a bipartisan privileged resolution to withdraw U.S. Armed Forces from engaging in the Saudi-led coalition’s conflict with the Houthis in Yemen. Ranking Member Smith is also a co-sponsor of H. CON. RES. 81, introduced by Rep. Khanna in 2017.
“Yemen is facing the worst humanitarian crisis in the world right now that has been significantly exacerbated by the civil war. The impact of the Saudi-coalition’s actions on the dire humanitarian crisis is undeniable,” said Rep. Adam Smith. “The U.S. should be aggressively pushing a peaceful solution to end this civil war instead of supporting the Saudi-led coalition military campaign that has only destabilized the crisis further. We must make it clear that U.S. should not be choosing sides in this civil war while the people of Yemen continue to suffer.”
“When I introduced a similar War Powers resolution last year, I, along with Reps. Pocan, Massie, and Jones, were among a small group of members of Congress calling for an end to the U.S. involvement in the Saudi War in Yemen. One year later, the bloodshed continues with widespread destruction and disease contributing to the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. U.S.-fueled planes continue to drop U.S.-made bombs on innocent victims,” said Rep. Khanna. “This time around, our coalition to end the war has expanded and the call for withdrawing U.S. involvement is louder. This policy started by a few original cosponsors of our War Powers resolution is now supported by Whip Hoyer, the ranking members of the House Armed Services, Foreign Affairs, and Rules Committees, and it is now a mainstream position within the Democratic Party. In fact, 44 U.S. Senators, including the Democratic Leader and Whip, voted in favor of a similar War Powers resolution. I am confident the House Republican leadership will allow this resolution to come to a vote and that members of the House will hear from their constituents in support of our position against this unauthorized war contributing to Yemen’s humanitarian catastrophe.”
“The world’s worst humanitarian crisis has been triggered by our secretive, illegal war in Yemen waged alongside the Saudi regime. I am proud to join my progressive and conservative colleagues in co-leading this vital effort to force the House of Representatives to finally debate and vote on removing U.S. forces from this senseless conflict,” said Rep. Pocan. “As the Saudis use famine as a weapon of war, starving millions of innocent Yemenis to near death, the United States fuels, coordinates and provides bombs for Saudi airstrikes, and secretly deploys the military to participate in on-the-ground operations with Saudi troops. Nothing is more urgent than working across the aisle to rein in our unauthorized involvement in this tragedy by reasserting our constitutional duty over war and peace.”
“The actions of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen are fast-approaching the level of crimes against humanity,” said Rep. McGovern. “The United States must send a clear and unambiguous message to Saudi Arabia – their actions are unacceptable to the international community and will not be tolerated by the United States. As millions of Yemenis face senseless violence, starvation, and disease, America cannot remain a complicit and passive partner in carrying out one of the world’s greatest humanitarian crises.”
“Congress never authorized military action in Yemen as our Constitution requires, yet we continue to fund and assist Saudi Arabia in this tragic conflict,” said Rep. Massie. “It’s long past time Congress held a debate and vote as to whether U.S. soldiers and personnel should be involved in this war.”
“The United States is complicit in the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen. The Saudi-Emirati coalition has unleashed unthinkable horrors on the civilians of Yemen, and it is shameful that the U.S. is participating in this war,” said Rep. Barbara Lee. “This war was never voted on by Congress. In the face of unspeakable carnage and suffering, the United States should be building a pathway to peace – not supporting a coalition that bombs civilians. Congress needs to make its voice heard and demand an end to U.S. participation in this inhumane war.”
“Congress has a constitutional responsibility to authorize and provide oversight of military conflicts. We have done neither for the conflict in Yemen – where our military has supported airstrikes that have killed scores of innocent civilians, including children,” said Rep. Lieu. “Enforcing the role of Congress in overseeing U.S. involvement in conflicts abroad guarantees that this issue will finally receive the critical debate it deserves.”
“For too long, the United States has turned a blind eye to the horrifying atrocities committed against Yemeni civilians by the Saudi-U.S. coalition, killing, maiming and starving innocent civilians since the start of this genocidal war in 2015,” said Rep. Gabbard. “Even after Saudi Arabia dropped a bomb on a school bus that killed 40 children last month, the Trump Administration reaffirmed its support for this illegal war, which Congress has never approved. The U.S. must end its support for Saudi Arabia now.”
"For far too long, the United States has fueled the suffering in Yemen. Our military's continued support for the Saudi and UAE led coalition, even in the face of repeated war crimes, must immediately end. We are grateful that a bipartisan group of members of Congress, led by Rep. Ro Khanna, HASC Ranking Member Adam Smith, and CPC Co-Chair Mark Pocan, are leading the charge to put an end to our unauthorized role in this deadly war,” said Stephen Miles, Director at Win Without War. “We call on all members of Congress to join them and help finally end the world's largest man-made humanitarian crisis."
"Just Foreign Policy strongly welcomes the bipartisan initiative of Reps. Khanna, Smith, Pocan, Massie and others to invoke the War Powers Resolution to force a floor vote to end unconstitutional U.S. participation in the Saudi regime's biblically-catastrophic war and blockade in Yemen,” said Robert Naiman, Policy Director at Just Foreign Policy. “The Saudi regime is deliberately causing famine in Yemen and deliberately helping strengthen Al Qaeda in Yemen. These barbaric Saudi policies that are hurting Americans will stop when the United States government stops illegally enabling them. We expect the long-overdue House invocation of its war powers to end this abomination to be a decisive step towards asserting Constitutional war powers to end other unconstitutional wars and towards preventing unconstitutional wars in the future."
“This House resolution offers a glimmer of hope to the suffering people of Yemen because if the US withdraws its support for the Saudi-led bombing, a negotiated settlement is sure to follow,” said Medea Benjamin, co-director at CODEPINK. “Let's make sure the August bombing of a busload of children marks a turning point in US policy.”
"As a result of American support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, millions are facing starvation and the country is battling what may be the worst cholera epidemic in history,” said Kaili Lambe, Organizing Director at CREDO Action. “American-made bombs have killed civilians – many of them children, all without explicit authorization from Congress. It is crucial that Congress assert its responsibility and vote to end U.S. support for the war in Yemen by supporting the legislation sponsored by Reps. Khanna, Pocan and Smith.”
"This resolution should be a no-brainer for Congress. What more do they need to finally end this tragedy? If they're not persuaded by the fact that the U.S. is engaging in unauthorized warfare, the growing civilian body count should demand their attention,” said Elizabeth Beavers, Associate Policy Director at for Indivisible. “This is the world's largest humanitarian crisis, and blood is on the hands of those who do not act to stop it."
“As Quakers, we support legislation to end U.S. involvement in the Saudi-led war that is slaughtering men, women, and children in Yemen. By refueling Saudi and Emirati jets as they bomb civilians, the U.S. is enabling the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. We applaud Representatives Ro Khanna, Adam Smith, and Mark Pocan for their bipartisan initiative to reassert Congress’ constitutional authority to end this illegal war,” said Diane Randall, Executive Secretary, Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), a Quaker lobby in the public interest. “Quakers and friends across the country are mobilizing to urge their members of Congress to support this initiative and end this illegal war.”
"The war in Yemen being waged by the Saudi and Emirati-led coalition is brutal, bloody, and a humanitarian disaster of immense proportions--and the coalition is losing. America is supporting that coalition with military assets such as refueling tankers and precision-guided munitions. Our support is unconstitutional because Congress hasn't approved it,” said Lawrence Wilkerson, Prof of Govt at the College of William and Mary and former chief of staff to secretary of state Colin Powell. “The solution is simple: invoke the Constitution and the War Powers Act and give the President a choice--stop the support or seek Congressional approval."
“Rarely does Congress have an opportunity make a difference in the lives of millions of people. This legislation is one such chance, and the time to act is now,” said William D. Hartung, Director, Arms and Security Project, Center for International Policy. “Representatives Khanna, Pocan, Smith and their colleagues are to be commended for taking urgent and necessary action to end the suffering in Yemen.”
“In another effort by Congress to take back its constitutional mandate to declare war, Peace Action applauds Reps. Adam Smith (D-WA, Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Jim McGovern (D-MA, Ranking Member of the Rules Committee), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Thomas Massie (R-KY) and others for invoking the War Powers Resolution to stop the illegal involvement of the U.S. in the Yemen war,” said Paul Kawika Martin the Senior Director, Policy and Political Affairs for Peace Action, the largest grassroots peace organization in the U.S., “Peace Action helped pass the War Powers Resolution in 1973 over the veto of President Nixon so Congress can stop the White House and the Pentagon from engaging in costly wars that make Americans less safe.”
“The Committee for Responsible Foreign Policy commends Reps. Ro Khanna, Adam Smith, and Mark Pocan for their leadership on this issue, and for their commitment to the Constitution's Article I Congressional War Powers,” said George O'Neill, Jr., founder of the Committee for Responsible Foreign Policy. “The decision to go to war is one of the most important decisions a nation can make, and it is appropriate for Congress to vote on the United States' partnership with Saudi Arabia in the war in Yemen, which has created the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.”
The cosponsors of the resolution are: Reps Adam Smith (WA-09), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Steny Hoyer (MD-05), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Jim McGovern (MA-02), Eliot Engel (NY-16), Raul Grijalva (AZ-03), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02), Thomas Massie (KY-04), Michael Capuano (MA-07), Yvette Clarke (NY-09), Ted Lieu (CA-33), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Beto O’Rourke (TX-16), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Joe Kennedy (Ma-04), Joe Courtney (CT-2), Gwen Moore (WI-04), Walter Jones (NC-03), Debbie Dingell (MI-12), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Peter DeFazio (OR-04) and Earl Blumenauer (OR-03).
The text of the legislation can be found here.