Press Releases

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (WA-09) today submitted the following statement on H.R. 4954, Security and Accountability for Every (SAFE) Port Act conference report.  Smith was an original cosponsor of the bill, which passed the House early this morning by a vote of 409 to 2:

“Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support the conference report on H.R. 4954, the SAFE Port Act.  This bipartisan legislation makes critical improvements to strengthen our domestic and international security efforts and provides the resources necessary to detect tampered cargo before it enters our ports.  Passage of the SAFE Port Act today is vital to our national security.

“For Washington state, the SAFE Port Act will bring greater regional coordination, new security grants, increased Customs personnel for Puget Sound and development of radiation detection equipment that is both modern and appropriate for the Port of Tacoma’s increased rail capacity. 

“The SAFE Port Act also takes important steps to plan for and immediately recover from any incidents on our docks.  With the increased role of western ports like the Port of Tacoma and the Port of Seattle in our global economy, we must ensure the free flow of commerce.

“Passage of the SAFE Port Act will help protect our communities, our critical infrastructure and our homeland.  The SAFE Port Act will move America in the right direction.”

 

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (WA-09) today voted for the $34.8 billion Homeland Security Department appropriations conference report for fiscal year 2007.

“Port and cargo security, first responders, border control – these are all key components of our national security,” Smith said.  “This bill, while not perfect, includes key funds for these essential priorities.”

Among the items funded are:

  • $2.8 billion for border patrol, adding 1,500 new Border Patrol agents.   However, this increase is 500 agents below what Congress authorized in the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004.
  • $1.2 billion for border fences, vehicle barriers, technology and infrastructure.
  • $4.3 billion for port, container and cargo security. 
  • $1.2 billion for high-risk area grants for state and local first responders, including $770 million for Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) grants, $175 million for rail security, and
  • $74 million for other infrastructure protection.
  • $375 million for state and local terrorism prevention grants.

The bill would also overhaul the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and requires the FEMA Director have extensive emergency response and crisis management experience.  It would also prevent FEMA funds from being diverted to other agencies and requires improved coordination between federal, state, and local emergency response organizations.

“Our bungled response to Hurricane Katrina revealed the stunning level of ineptitude that had taken root at FEMA,” Smith said.  “I hope this bill will help ensure this Administration does not repeat its past mistake of hiring someone with political connections instead of real-world qualifications.”

The bill passed the House by a vote of 412 to 6.  The bill must now be passed by the Senate before being signed into law by the President.

 

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (WA-09) today voted for the $462.9 billion National Defense Authorization conference report for fiscal year 2007.  Included in the bill are $70 billion for Iraq and Afghanistan operations, $20 billion more than the President requested.  As a member of the House Armed Services Committee and a conferee on the bill, Smith was pleased a number of his top priorities were included in the final legislation.

“I, along with other Democratic Armed Services Committee members, pushed for the adequate funds to rebuild our forces in light of the extended wear-and-tear of the Iraq war,” Smith said.  “I am pleased the bill includes these key funds and provisions, but more must be done.”

On Iraq:

  • Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction. The bill requires fiscal year 2007 Iraq spending be reviewed by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR).  Although Smith preferred a non-expiring mandate for the SIGIR, he was pleased the bill provided the SIGIR oversight through fiscal year 2007.

“The Iraq reconstruction effort is fraught with waste, fraud, and abuse, and the Special Inspector General has been our only tool for uncovering and addressing the problems,” Smith said.  “It was critical to expand the Inspector’s mandate in this bill so we can do more to rein in this gross mismanagement of taxpayer money.”

  • No Permanent Military Bases in Iraq.  For the first time, this legislation prohibits spending for military bases for the permanent stationing of U.S. Armed Forces in Iraq, or to exercise economic control of Iraq’s oil resources. 

“This provision sends a critical message to the Iraqis: we are not occupiers, and the Iraqis must take control of their security,” Smith said.

  • IED Jammers. The legislation requires the Defense Department to provide by the end of fiscal year 2007 Improvised Explosive Device (IED) jammers for all United States military wheeled vehicles in Iraq and Afghanistan outside secure military bases.

“IEDs are a chief hazard to our troops in the field,” Smith said.  “Neutralizing them should be a top priority.”

Also included in the bill are provisions for:

  • Army and Marine Corp Readiness.  The legislation provides $23.7 billion to replace, repair, and maintain military equipment.  The bill also requires the Army properly budget for upkeep of equipment used in the hunt for terrorists.
  • TRICARE for Guard and Reserve. The bill grants full, affordable access to TRICARE for all National Guard members and Reservists, regardless of activation or employment status. This provision is a key aspect of an earlier bill Smith introduced, H.R. 4468, a quality-of-life bill for Guard members and Reservists.
  • TRICARE and prescription drug access.  In addition, the bill places a one-year moratorium on any TRICARE cost-share increases or retail prescription drug co-pay increases. 
  • Servicemembers Group Life Insurance.  Full premiums for Servicemembers Group Life Insurance are paid for servicemembers in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
  The legislation provides $23.7 billion to replace, repair, and maintain military equipment.  The bill also requires the Army properly budget for upkeep of equipment used in the hunt for terrorists.

The bill passed the House by a vote of 398 to 23.  The Senate must approve the legislation before it can be signed into law by the President.

 

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (WA-09) today issued the following statement on H.R. 5825, a bill that would egregiously expand executive surveillance power, which passed the House of Representatives tonight:

“We face a real threat from violent Islamic extremists.  To fight them effectively, we must not only hunt them aggressively at home and abroad, but also preserve our ability to motivate other countries to fight with us.  At the same time, we must stand firm in the defense of our nation’s ideals.

“This bill would accomplish none of these critically important goals.   Instead, the President and the Republican Leadership attempted to put Democrats on the horns of an election year dilemma:  either egregiously expand the executive branch’s authority outside bounds set by the Constitution, or be accused of voting against the hunt for terrorists. 

“We do not know to what extent the President’s current surveillance system breaks from current law, but all indications point to a blatant circumvention of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.  This bill would not only codify that violation; it would vastly expand the President’s surveillance power beyond any check or balance.  It would allow the President to spy on Americans without a warrant for an unlimited period of time.

“Given the President’s track record of misused and overreaching executive authority, it is hard to understand why we should now be expected to give him even more latitude to use surveillance techniques that may very well be struck down by the Supreme Court.  Such an additional failure on the part of the Administration and this Republican Congress would further hamper our efforts to stop terrorism.” 

“The President had the basic tools he needed within the framework of the FISA but chose to ignore them.  This bill is not some common-sense move to track terrorists.  It is not a needed update to FISA.  It is huge expansion of executive power that should concern all Americans.”

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (WA-09) today issued the following statement on the Republican-backed “compromise” military commissions act, H.R. 6616:

“I oppose the legislation creating military commissions because it would sacrifice our moral leadership in the world, delay our fight to prosecute and punish terrorists, and risk our troops. 

“This measure would give this President and any future President the power to reinterpret laws and agreements which bar mistreatment of prisoners whenever and however he feels it convenient.  It would allow the President to weaken the Geneva Conventions and undermine our moral leadership in the world while further risking the safety of our servicemembers.

“This move by the Administration and Congress will confuse our policies surrounding prisoner treatment.  Our policies should be unambiguous:  the United States does not condone torture.  This proposal runs counter to fundamental American values. 

“Five years after 9/11, we still have not convicted a single terrorist.  We absolutely must be able to bring our terrorist enemies to justice through a system that is tough, fair, and effective.  This bill will likely fail Supreme Court scrutiny just as the Administration’s previous system failed, and for the same reasons.  This latest failure would mean we spend more time debating proper treatment of terror suspects instead of making sure they face swift, tough consequences.  And make no mistake: al-Qaeda will not wait around for us to get serious about bringing them to justice. 

“This bill is another example of this President and this Republican Congress failing to win the fight against terror.  The policies of President Bush and the Republican Congress are making us less safe.  It is time for a new direction.”