Press Releases

Smith Opposes Bush War Plan

February 16, 2007

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (WA-09) voted today in favor of a House resolution opposing President Bush’s plan to deploy more than 20,000 additional U.S. combat troops to Iraq.  The resolution, which also pledged the House’s continued support for the troops in Iraq, passed by a bipartisan vote of 246 to 182.

Smith spoke in favor of the resolution on the House floor yesterday.  The following are his remarks as prepared for delivery:  

“It has been nearly four years since the war in Iraq began—four-and-a-half since President Bush and his team in the White House started the effort to launch our nation on the path to this war.  We learned a lot during that time frame, but two things stand out.  First, the war effort has failed to achieve the outcome the President hoped for, instead creating problems he clearly felt would not come to pass.  Even he admitted that he is dissatisfied with the way the war has gone.  Second, at every step along the way, beginning with the way the President got us into the war, right up to the President’s latest plan to once again increase the number of U.S. troops in Baghdad, President Bush and his administration made mistake after mistake—failing to an almost incomprehensible level to learn from past errors or to demonstrate even a modest level of competence in prosecuting this war.  Countless books from all points on the political spectrum lay out in painful detail all the mistakes this administration made in Iraq. 

"It is way past time for this Congress to stand up and say enough.  We disapprove of what President Bush is doing in Iraq.

"But our friends on the other side of the aisle claim that such a statement in meaningless.  This is an astounding assertion.  The United States House of Representatives—the elected voice of the people of our nation—stating clearly and on the record how they feel about the single most important policy issue of our time is meaningless?  This opinion, expressed by the minority party, perhaps explains the utter lack of oversight and accountability that they employed when they were in charge—standing by and acting as mere cheerleaders for the President’s actions in Iraq as he made mistake after mistake.  The other side of the aisle at least has a consistent record of believing that the opinion of Congress, a body our Constitution set up as a coequal branch of government with the Executive, is meaningless.

"As much as I disagree with this conclusion as to the proper role of Congress in expressing its opinion on the Iraq War, I do understand this initial reluctance to pressure President Bush to change course.  In a time of war we all want to stand behind our Commander–in-Chief as a first option, and the powers of the presidency make it difficult for Congress to, in a clear-cut straightforward manner, direct the President in the conduct of war.  But the President’s record of mistakes in Iraq makes it clear we can no longer cling to this first option, and, difficulties notwithstanding, the cost of continuing down the same path the President has been pursuing in Iraq has reached the point where Congress must at least try to force a change in direction.

"This effort should logically begin with a clear statement from the House that we disapprove of the way the President is conducting the war in Iraq.  That is what this resolution does.  With this vote members can no longer hide behind, “on the one hand, but then again on the other” statements.  We can all mutter about things we don’t like in Iraq, but an official on the record vote is required to make that disapproval clear.  Do you support the way President Bush is conducting the war in Iraq?  Yes or no.

"And make no mistake about it the President’s plan to increase the number of U.S troops in Baghdad represents no change in policy.  It is stay the course, more of the same.  In the last year we made large increases in the number of our troops in Baghdad twice already.  Both times violence went up in the city, and as we have begun the current increase in troops that violence has once again increased.  The lesson should be clear at this point--United States military might will not stop or even reduce the violence in that city.   

"Listening to the arguments against this resolution helps to understand why our President insists on making some of the same mistakes over and over again in Iraq.  We are told that our fight in Iraq is a clear-cut battle against the same type of Al Qaeda-backed extremists who attacked our nation on 9/11 and that we are defending a worthy Iraqi government against these evil forces.  If this were true, I would support whatever increase in troops was necessary to defeat that evil force. 

"But it is not even close to true—it is instead a dangerous attempt to paint a black and white picture on a situation that is far, far more complex.  Baghdad is caught in a sectarian civil war.  Both Shia and Sunni militias are battling each other as well as United States forces and the Iraqi government.  It is a complex web of frequently changing alliances and interests that makes it impossible for our troops to separate good guys from bad guys.  This is why our troops cannot stop or even reduce the violence.  And the Maliki government we are being asked to support spends as much time acting like they are supporting the Shia side of the civil war as they do acting like they want to bring Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds together to form a stable Iraq.

"Al Qaeda is in Iraq and we should continue to target them, but that effort will require a far, far smaller U.S. military presence than we have there today.  Currently we are expending an enormous amount of resources in Iraq, most of which is going towards putting our forces in the middle of a chaotic civil war where our efforts do not advance and may even retard our fight against Al Qaeda.  That massive military commitment reduces our ability to pursue Al Qaeda in the dozens of other nations where they have influence—most glaringly in Afghanistan and Pakistan. 

"This larger, more important fight is not solely or even primarily military.  Diplomacy and other efforts to move disaffected Muslim populations away from joining Al Qaeda are a huge part of our battle, and we need to enhance those efforts.  But we can’t, because we’re hamstrung both by a lack resources - financial and strategic – that are tied down in Iraq, and because our open-ended occupation of Iraq continues to undermine America’s standing in the world.     

"Instead of sending more troops to Baghdad the United States policy in Iraq should be to instruct our military leaders there to put together plans to as quickly and responsibly as possible reduce the number of U.S. troops in Iraq.  We need our troops to focus on Al Qaeda and its supporters, not to be bogged down in a sectarian civil war that is only tangentially related to the larger fight against Al Qaeda.

"The first, critical step in this process of changing our policy in Iraq is this resolution.  Congress must make its disapproval of the President’s policy in Iraq clear and on the record.”      

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (WA-09) today announced guidelines for his Ninth District Congressional Art Contest.  Students in grades nine through 12 who reside in the Washington’s Ninth Congressional District may submit entries between March 1 and March 23.  Entries should be sent to Smith’s district office at 3600 Port of Tacoma Rd, Suite 106, Tacoma, WA  98424.

Artwork should be supplied with a pre-cut mat; frames are not necessary.  Pieces must be no larger than 30 x 30 inches when framed.  All art must be able to be framed to the 30 x 30 inches size limitation to be considered.  The winning entry will be framed by a sponsor for display in a ten-month exhibit in the U.S. Capitol Building.  In addition, a major airline sponsor will provide the winners and two guests round trip airfare to travel to Washington D.C. to attend the national reception in June.

If students have no art teacher or are home schooled, a parent or guardian must sign the originality certification to ensure that the art entry is an original work not copied from, nor does it include, any other person’s copyrighted work.

The top 40 entries will be displayed at Tacoma Art Museum from April 6 through April 22. 

Adam Smith’s Congressional Art Contest reception will be held Saturday, April 14 at 1:00 p.m. at the Tacoma Art Museum Classroom.  Tacoma Art Museum is located at 1701 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma, Washington 98402

Guidelines and registration forms are posted www.house.gov/adamsmith and distributed to high schools.  Those interested in more information should email tina.johnson@mail.house.gov.
 

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (WA-09) yesterday voted for H.R. 365, the Methamphetamine Remediation Act, a bill to help communities clean up methamphetamine labs and the toxic mess they leave behind.  The bill requires the Environmental Protection Agency develop health-based guidelines to help state and local authorities clean up former meth lab sites. The bill passed the House of Representatives today by a vote of 426 to 2.

“Methamphetamine use is declining in Washington State, but our communities still have to deal with the toxic residue from meth labs,” Smith said.  “Unfortunately, meth labs are found often in residential settings, so it’s vital that the EPA develop guidelines for proper cleanup to protect Washington families.”  

In addition to establishing health-based meth lab cleanup guidelines, the bill would also:

  • Direct the National Institute of Standards and Technology to consult with EPA in developing technologies to detect meth labs, emphasizing in field test kits for law enforcement.
  • Require the National Academy of Sciences to study the long-term health impacts of meth exposure on first-responders and on children taken from meth lab sites.

According to a 2006 National Drug Threat Survey of state and local law enforcement agencies across the nation, meth was named most often as the greatest drug threat in communities.  The National Drug Intelligence Center said in 2005 that “the production, transportation, distribution, and abuse of methamphetamine” comprise the primary drug threat to the Pacific Region. 

The U.S. Senate must now consider H.R. 365 before it can be signed into law by the President.

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (WA-09) today issued the following statement regarding President Bush’s budget request for fiscal year 2008:

“The President’s budget request again hides the true cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  While the budget contains war costs for the coming year, it discontinues funding in 2009. The President has said ending the war in Iraq is a decision he’ll leave to another President, and he is increasing troop levels in Baghdad.  It is clear he believes his strategy will keep us in Iraq well beyond 2009.  President Bush is not being honest with the numbers. 

“President Bush wants to slash funds for Medicare, Medicaid, education, and environmental protection to pay for tax breaks for multi-millionaires.  This budget throws even more help to those who don’t need it and cuts the safety net from under those who need help most.

“Congress has a lot of work to do to fix the problems in the President’s budget, and we’re ready to go to work.  Democrats and members of the NewDem Coalition in particular will respond to this request with a progressive, pro-growth alternative to benefit all Americans and win the fight against terrorists without squandering more taxpayer dollars on failed strategies.”

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (WA-09) today voted for House Joint Resolution 20, a continuing resolution to provide funds for the federal government for fiscal year 2007.  The bill passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 286 to 140.  Smith issued the following statement:

“Today the House had to make difficult choices to clean up the mess Republicans made last year when they failed to pass nine of 11 appropriations bills to fund the United States government.  While not perfect, this continuing resolution will allow us to move past the irresponsibility of the last Congress and actually function as a governing body with oversight responsibilities over the President’s impending budget proposal for next year.

“Those in the minority party today complained of a closed process.  I understand their concern, but much of it seems to come from a case of selective memory on the part of House Republicans.  Over the last ten years, the House has considered 75 continuing resolutions and all of them were considered under a closed process with no amendments.  Further, Republicans had an entire year to provide input into this budget when they were in control, but they instead walked away from their responsibility.

“The resolution was written with input from Republicans in both houses of Congress.  This process is the only way to give the Senate time to consider this legislation to prevent a government shutdown. 

“Today’s continuing resolution is an effort to make the best of a bad situation and perhaps the only feasible way to clean up the Republican mess.  This measure has been stripped of earmarks and funds critically important priorities like Veterans Affairs, Defense Department housing, and research at the National Institutes of Health.  Also, it freezes congressional pay until the American people get their minimum wage hike, and it will allow us to move on to the President’s budget and exercise some real oversight for the first time in years.”