Press Releases

Chairman Smith Reintroduces Legislation to End Sequestration 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, has reintroduced legislation to end sequestration and its damage to our economy:

“Today, I am reintroducing the Relief from Sequestration Act of 2019 to repeal the automatic cuts in both discretionary and mandatory spending triggered by the 2011 Budget Control Act’s sequestration.  These cuts have impacted our economy, affected our government, and harmed our nation. 

“At the same time, this bill does not deny the fact that we need a comprehensive, long-term deficit reduction deal.  We do.  We have a deficit problem that must be addressed and a broader revenue and spending plan is fundamental if we are to tackle the debt and deficit.

“Rather, the Relief from Sequestration Act recognizes that critical national priorities and the economy should no longer be held hostage by the threat of sequestration while Congress debates a comprehensive budget fix.  The Budget Control Act’s automatic and indiscriminate cuts are not a long-term solution. They will only damage our economy and undermine national security in the process.

“Because Congress recognizes the harm that broad and indiscriminate cuts inflict on our economy, government programs, and the military, it has previously delayed the Budget Control Act’s $1.2 trillion in cuts from fully taking effect. As sequestration has proven, haphazard cuts are not effective in reducing the debt. Any sustainable fiscal plan should include a thoughtful budgeting approach that incorporates targeted reductions and increases in revenue.”

Background:

In 2011, the Budget Control Act introduced the mechanism of sequestration.  Under sequestration, automatic and indiscriminate cuts were to be applied through fiscal year 2021. These cuts were designed to decimate discretionary spending with the goal of forcing Congress to enact a long-term deficit reduction plan. They were never meant to take effect. In fact, the author of the 1987 law that first employed sequestration as an enforcement mechanism admitted that sequestration was never supposed to be triggered.

Unfortunately, when Congress failed to find a solution to reduce our deficit, this devastating mechanism took effect for Fiscal Year (FY) 2013.  Over the years, Congress has continuously delayed sequestration cuts by passing various bipartisan budget agreements, but the mere threat of sequestration has had unacceptable and serious economic implications disrupting regular order in Congress.  The solution must be to permanently end this misguided and ineffective policy.

The Relief from Sequestration Act of 2019 would end the remaining years of harmful potential cuts to discretionary programs triggered by this mechanism by eliminating them for FY 2020 and FY 2021.

 

 

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C.— Congressman Adam Smith released the following statement in response to House passage of S.J. Res 7

“Passage of this resolution makes clear to the Trump Administration that the United States should not be providing support for the Saudi-led coalition in the conflict in Yemen. Over four years into the civil war, the Yemeni people continue to face the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. The situation remains on extremely fragile ground – failed progress in the peace process and any escalation in violence risks worsening the food insecurity, cholera outbreak, and displacement already plaguing the country.  The United States must be squarely focused on using its leverage to reinforce the UN Special Envoy’s efforts towards a peaceful resolution and to take steps to alleviate the devastating effects of this conflict on the Yemeni people. Any U.S. involvement in Yemen must be debated transparently, and Congress will continue to assert its oversight role of the administration on Yemen.”

Washington, D.C. – House Armed Services Committee Chairman (D-WA) released the following statement about DoD’s intent to reprogramming funding to fund building a wall on the southwest border and has issued a letter denying the request.

 “Congress grants the Department of Defense the ability to move a limited amount of appropriated funds through the reprogramming process in order to address emergent, higher-priority needs, subject to specific statutory limitations. Congress has trusted the Department with this tool to give them additional flexibility to manage day-to-day operations. DoD’s recent notification of its intent to use that process to reprogram $1 billion without Congressional approval is a violation of that trust.  

“DoD is attempting to circumvent Congress and the American people’s opposition to using taxpayer money for the construction of an unnecessary wall, and the military is paying the cost. Marine Corps leadership recently signaled that a lack of fiscal support from the Department has required them to cancel or significantly reduce participation in three training exercises, as well as reduce maintenance expenditures for combat equipment, and that without necessary relief the Marine Corps will have to cancel five more training exercises, reduce and delay additional maintenance, and reduce or cancel Reserve mobilization.

“Meanwhile, the Army has made an intentional decision to not pursue its requested authorized end strength for Fiscal Year 2019.  This decision was made after Congress, in good faith, approved and funded the Department’s request based on discussion with the Army experts.  The administration has decided to use the funds available from this decision to fund portions of the border wall. 

“This needs to stop.  Based on the unfunded requests received for the Fiscal Year 2020 budget and the issues raised by the Marine Corps, there are obviously more pressing issues with readiness and modernization that these funds could - and more importantly should - go to. Instead of focusing on readiness, hurricane recovery, and other genuine issues, the administration continues to spend billions of dollars on an imaginary crisis.  The priority needs to be on supporting our service men and women, and their families who defend our nation. In this, the administration continues to fail. There is no national emergency at the southern border. The Administration should stop using our servicemembers as a political tool and instead focus on building military capabilities and readiness and areas where we should focus our defense resources. Congress will act as necessary to defend its Constitutional prerogatives.”

The Committee’s formal response to the Department can be found here.

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Congressman Adam Smith released the following statement in response to the release of Attorney General Barr’s letter summarizing Special Counsel Robert Mueller's final report:

“It is imperative that the American people and the United States Congress see the entire Muller report. Thus far, we have not seen a single word that we know for a fact Special Counsel Mueller wrote, only Attorney General Barr’s opinion of that report. We must see the full report.

“Conspiracy and obstruction are very difficult to prove, and have an incredibly high bar. Apparently, Special Counsel Mueller did not think there was sufficient evidence for conspiracy, and he could not offer a clear opinion on obstruction. That is distinctly possible, but it does not mean that the President and his campaign didn’t do anything wrong. The Mueller probe resulted in the indictment of 34 individuals, including seven guilty pleas and four people sentenced to prison. For anyone to say this report shows no wrongdoing is a gross misstatement of the facts. 

“According to Attorney General Barr, the report does say unequivocally that Russia interfered in the 2016 Presidential election in order to elect Donald Trump president. This is something the President has denied over and over again. The Mueller report shows the President is wrong. It is way past time for the President to personally take steps to hold the Russians accountable for their interference. The fact that Trump refuses to do so is a blot on his presidency and undermines the credibility of our democracy.

“We now also know that the Russians made attempts to influence the election and had contact with people in the Trump campaign to offer to help. The Trump campaign was aware of these offers and aware of what the Russians were doing. The Trump campaign took no steps to alert any authorities, failed to contact the FBI, and didn’t try to stop the Russians in any way. That is not a crime, but it definitely leaves the campaign morally culpable for the result. In terms of the President’s leadership in dealing with the Russian interference in our election, and in terms of what his campaign had to do with the interference, even his own attorney general has put out a set of facts that make it clear that the President behaved at a minimum in an unethical way. At a minimum this is clearly a failure of leadership by the President.”

Washington, D.C. – House Armed Services Committee Chairman (D-WA) released the following statement about DoD’s Implementation of the ban on the service of transgender people.

“It would be prudent for Acting Secretary Shanahan to delay implementing the Mattis policy until the courts have made their final determinations. Any other course of action not only undermines military readiness, but is also an insult to transgender individuals who have served and are still serving with distinction. Anyone who is qualified and willing should be allowed to serve their country openly.  Make no mistake, this is a discriminatory ban on transgender people, not a ban on a medical condition and we will continue to fight against this bigoted policy.”