Press Releases

Washington, D.C. – Today, Rep. Adam Smith (WA-09) release the following statement in response to H.R. 6691, the Community Security and Safety Act of 2018:

“Today I opposed H.R. 6691, the Community Security and Safety Act of 2018. This regressive bill will subject even more people to harsher treatment through an already broken criminal justice system. I steadfastly oppose it.

“This legislation was introduced less than a week ago in response to the Supreme Court’s April ruling in Dimaya vs. Sessions, which found the legal definition of “crimes of violence” to be unconstitutionally vague. H.R. 6691 creates an overly-expansive new definition of a “crime of violence.” Under this bill, what were previously relatively minor non-violent offenses now could carry significantly increased penalties and potential jail time. This legislation further exacerbates the injustices of our judicial system and moves the justice reform effort backwards. 

“House Republicans did nothing for four months following the Court’s ruling and then, today, forced a vote on their hasty attempt to fix the deficiencies identified by the Court.  Experts, community members, and local law enforcement officials were not consulted and no hearings were permitted, despite the far-reaching ramifications of this issue.

“We need to overhaul our judicial system by using evidence-based, state-tested reforms. We should be simplifying unnecessary federal regulatory crimes that lead to over-prosecution of minor offenses. I support legislation that ends racial profiling, promotes accountability, provides legal help to those in need, ends the use of private prisons, and restores fairness to our system of justice. We must continue to find alternative punitive and restorative steps for those who have committed offenses to help end the epidemic of mass incarceration.

“Additionally, we should work to reduce the recidivism rate in part by providing assistance to inmates who are returning home. There is broad support for legislation that helps with reentry and to provide equal employment opportunities.  I support “banning the box” and prohibiting federal agencies and primary federal contractors from asking about criminal history on an initial employment application. We know that once community members leave prison, we must support education and rehabilitation efforts to ensure that people who will eventually return home from prison will do so equipped with the skills and knowledge necessary to reintegrate into society. 

“Bipartisan efforts and leadership at the federal level are essential to ensuring wider enactment of restorative justice programs, like those pioneered in Washington state. As we work towards common-sense reforms to our criminal justice system, I greatly value the continuing knowledge and opinions shared with me by constituents. I am committed to working with my colleagues to support protect civil liberties, increase transparency, and work to address bedrock issues that plague our criminal justice system.”

 

Armed Services Ranking Member Smith and Key Appropriators Oppose Trump Plan to Spend Military Readiness and Infrastructure Funds on Border Wall

Letter to Secretary Mattis Urges Him to Turn Down Unauthorized Request from the Homeland Security Department

September 6, 2018

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“It is utterly irresponsible and appalling that President Trump wants to take away funding for military readiness and infrastructure in order to spend it on his border wall,” said Smith. “We are trying to ensure that our men and women in uniform have the facilities and training they need to face serious dangers while defending our country. If Secretary Mattis follows through on this request, it would undermine those efforts. President Trump should not be taking away money from our troops and spending it on his wall.” 

“At a time when our country faces many serious national security threats around the world, it is simply outrageous to divert funds from the Pentagon to President Trump’s wasteful border wall,” Lowey said. “House Democrats stand united against this reckless proposal that endangers military readiness and undermines Congress’ Constitutional power of the purse.” 

“This is simply not the Department of Defense’s responsibility,” said Visclosky. “Military leaders who constantly testify and defend budget requests are well aware of the Congressional authorization and appropriation processes. We must continue to follow these established and Constitutional procedures to ensure that the Department of Defense is able to meet its stated objectives and support our brave men and women in uniform.”   

“President Trump’s willingness to sacrifice our military’s training and infrastructure to pay for an ineffective border wall is a shameful betrayal of the uniformed men and women who keep this nation safe,” said Wasserman Schultz. “No one who bravely serves our country should be asked to sacrifice our military readiness to pay for this boondoggle.”

The letter, which can be found at this link, reads as follows:

 

September 5, 2018

 

 

The Honorable James N. Mattis

Secretary of Defense

1000 Defense Pentagon

Washington, DC 20301-1000

 

Dear Secretary Mattis,

Last month the Department of Homeland Security transmitted a request to the Department of Defense to enhance existing border fencing and construct new border infrastructure along 31 miles of the Barry M. Goldwater Range in Arizona. With an estimated cost of $450 million, we write to express our strong opposition to the use of Department of Defense funds for this purpose and respectfully urge you to deny the Department of Homeland Security’s request.

In countless hearings and briefings this year we have heard from senior civilian and military leadership on the readiness challenges our military currently faces. We have heard about the Department of Defense’s plans to rebuild military readiness, to include investing in additional spare parts and maintenance, increasing training opportunities, growing certain military occupational specialties, and modernizing aging weapon systems. We have also heard the repeated calls from the Department for stable and predictable funding. With that in mind, we fail to see how diverting $450 million away from efforts to rebuild military readiness is in the Department or the taxpayers’ best interests.

We are also aware of the risk the Department of Defense has taken in new military construction and the significant backlog in sustainment, restoration, and modernization of facilities that support military readiness and quality of life for military personnel and their families. Department of Defense officials testified that the facilities maintenance backlog across the Department amounted to $116 billion and that 31% of the department’s facilities were in poor or failing condition. Funding the requested border infrastructure project may divert resources away from authorized and appropriated military construction projects, deferring critical investments to meet new mission requirements or replacing failing infrastructure. 

In addition to concerns with the prioritization of these funds, we also have questions about what statutory authority would be used to fund this project. We note that military construction projects that exceed the minor construction threshold require line-item authorization and appropriation by Congress. Congress has not provided an authorization or appropriation for a border infrastructure military construction project and we do not believe the scope or justification for the project warrants the use of emergency construction authorities or consideration outside of the annual authorization and appropriations process. 

While reform to our immigration system is needed, we do not believe it is a prudent use of taxpayer funds to have the Department of Defense spend approximately $450 million on 31 miles of border infrastructure.  Instead, the Department of Defense should focus its time and resources on infrastructure needs that address the military readiness shortfalls that have been repeatedly highlighted by civilian and military leadership.

We appreciate your consideration of our concerns and look forward to hearing from you on this important topic.

Sincerely.

 

 

Adam Smith                                                                Nita M. Lowey

Ranking Member                                                        Ranking Member

House Armed Services Committee                            House Appropriations Committee

 

 

 

 

 

Peter J. Visclosky                                                        Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Ranking Member                                                        Ranking Member

House Appropriations Committee                              House Appropriations Committee

Subcommittee on Defense                                          Subcommittee on Military Construction,

 

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Washington, D.C. – House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith (WA-09) Rep. Ro Khanna (CA-17), CPC Co-Chair Mark Pocan (WI-02), and their colleagues Jim McGovern (MA-02), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02), Michael Capuano (MA-07), Yvette Clarke (NY-09), Ted Lieu (CA-33), Barbara Lee (CA-13) and Adriano Espaillat (NY-13) released the following statement announcing their commitment to introduce a privileged resolution to withdraw U.S. Armed Forces from engaging in hostilities against Houthis in Yemen. This statement is released on the same day that UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths’ peace talks between the Houthis and the recognized Yemeni government are set to take place in Geneva.

“The people of Yemen face the world’s largest humanitarian catastrophe where 22 million people require humanitarian assistance and almost 18 million lack access to food. The conflict between the Saudi-led coalition and the Houthis has significantly exacerbated this humanitarian crisis. It’s critical that the United States not choose sides in this war, and any American involvement can and must be debated transparently.

“The Saudi-led coalition continues military offensives and airstrikes that have killed civilians and worsened the humanitarian crisis. Earlier this month On August 9th, 40 Yemeni children were killed by a U.S.-supplied bomb used in a Saudi airstrike. For every Yemeni civilian killed in an airstrike, countless more perish from hunger and disease triggered and sustained by the war. The Saudi-led coalition, and all parties involved, must be held accountable for their actions contributing to this ongoing crisis.

“The National Defense Authorization Act requires the Trump Administration to certify whether the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are undertaking demonstrable actions to reduce the risk of harm to civilians and civilian infrastructure and making urgent and good faith efforts to support diplomacy to end the civil war in Yemen. As the UN attempts to broker a ceasefire, it is imperative that the Saudi-led coalition halt fresh hostilities and planned offensives, particularly in and around the vital port city of Hodeidah. We are closely monitoring the actions of the Saudi-led coalition and the White House during these crucial peace negotiations.

“We are preparing to introduce a new, privileged resolution in September invoking the War Powers Resolution of 1973 to withdraw U.S. Armed Forces from engaging in the Saudi-led coalition’s conflict with the Houthis should additional escalations continue and progress fail to be made towards a peace agreement. There has been no specific authorization for the U.S. Armed Forces to engage in hostilities with respect to the conflict between the Saudi-led coalition and the Houthis in Yemen. We must take action to end U.S. participation in this catastrophic war in Yemen and work to bring about a peaceful conclusion to this conflict.

“We look forward to working with our colleagues in a bipartisan fashion to secure cosponsors for our resolution and support for the measure when it comes to the floor for a vote.” 

Washington, D.C. – This week, Congressman Adam Smith introduced the House Intern Pay Act, legislation to set aside funds so that interns in each congressional office can be paid.

“Paid internships help to provide equality of opportunity for all and ensure Congressional offices in Washington, D.C. and local district offices benefit from a strong diversity of ideas and backgrounds to best represent constituents,” said Congressman Adam Smith. “It is important to provide everyone in our community the opportunity to engage in our legislative process and civic service, regardless of their wealth.”

Every year, hundreds of students and recent graduates come to Capitol Hill seeking to learn about and serve in Congress. In the past, many young people have had to begin their careers in policy and public service in unpaid internship positions.  For many others, working and interning without pay is simply not possible.  Unpaid internships severely limit the opportunities available to those who cannot afford to work for free, but who want to learn and serve.     

The House Intern Pay Act would help alleviate this problem by allowing for the payment of a living wage to interns in each Members’, Delegates’, and Resident Commissioner’s congressional office in the House of Representatives.  Specifically, this bill authorizes amounts to fund a full-time, year-round internship position in each Member’s Capitol Hill or district congressional office at a rate of $15 per hour.

Congress must do its part to ensure that a person’s means is not a barrier to civic engagement and public service.

This legislation is cosponsored by the following Members of Congress: Don Beyer (VA-8), Nydia Velázquez (NY-7), Madeleine Bordallo (Guam), Mark Pocan (WI-2), Jackie Speier (CA-14), Suzanne Bonamci (OR-1), Judy Chu (CA-27), Ted W. Lieu (CA-33), Denny Heck (WA-10), Betty McCollum (MN-4), Pramila Jayapal (WA-7).

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the top Democrat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), and Representative Adam Smith (WA-9) sent a letter to Anne White, Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management at the Department of Energy, requesting additional public hearings in the Pacific Northwest on the department’s proposal for completing cleanup and closing the C Tank Farm at Hanford. To date, the Department has only held one public meeting on the issue, in Richland, Washington.

In the letter the lawmakers wrote, “Public hearings are an important avenue for DOE to both explain the Draft WIR Evaluation and to receive comment from states, tribal nations, stakeholder groups, and the public.”

“While we understand the Draft WIR Evaluation is the natural next step from DOE’s perspective, we also recognize this is a complex decision that involves managing waste differently, reclassifying waste, and has the potential to set precedent for the 17 other tank farms at Hanford. A decision of this magnitude should be made in an open and transparent manner with multiple avenues for public engagement,” said the lawmakers. “Therefore, we join the Washington State Department of Ecology and stakeholders groups in calling on DOE to hold additional public hearings in the Pacific Northwest to ensure the views of Washingtonians are heard.”

 

The full letter can be found HERE and below.

The Honorable Anne M. White

Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management

U.S. Department of Energy

1000 Independence Avenue, S.W.

Washington, D.C. 20585

 

Dear Assistant Secretary White:

We write to request that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) consider holding additional public hearings in the Pacific Northwest regarding the “Draft Waste Incidental to Reprocessing Evaluation for Closure of Waste Management Area C at the Hanford Site, Washington” (Draft WIR Evaluation). Public hearings are an important avenue for DOE to both explain the Draft WIR Evaluation and to receive comment from states, tribal nations, stakeholder groups, and the public.

We appreciate that DOE has extended the original 96-day comment period by an additional 60 days, providing more time for the public to review, evaluate, and provide input on the Draft WIR Evaluation. However, to date, DOE has only held one public meeting on the Draft WIR Evaluation in Richland, Washington. We have heard from stakeholders expressing the importance of holding additional public hearings at times and locations that allow for full participation.

The Waste Management Area C, also known as the C Tank Farm, consists of 16 single-shell tanks. We commend DOE and the Hanford workforce for retrieving more than 1.7 million gallons of waste from these tanks and transferring it into double-shell tanks. While we understand the Draft WIR Evaluation is the natural next step from DOE’s perspective, we also recognize this is a complex decision that involves managing waste differently, reclassifying waste, and has the potential to set precedent for the 17 other tank farms at Hanford. A decision of this magnitude should be made in an open and transparent manner with multiple avenues for public engagement. Therefore, we join the Washington State Department of Ecology and stakeholders groups in calling on DOE to hold additional public hearings in the Pacific Northwest to ensure the views of Washingtonians are heard.

Thank you for consideration of our request.

 

Sincerely,