Press Releases

Last night, Rep. Adam Smith, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, voted to instruct conferees on the Department of Defense authorization bill to agree to Senate language providing full concurrent receipt for veterans.  The Senate approved its version of the defense authorization bill with a provision that would completely eliminate the current offset between military retired pay and VA disability compensation.  The House-passed version included partial repeal of the current, unfair policy.  Unfortunately, some of the president’s senior advisors have pledged to recommend that he veto the defense authorization measure if either of the concurrent receipt provisions are included in the final bill.  This motion to instruct reinforces the House's commitment to veterans and helps jumpstart conference negotiations so that work can be completed on the FY03 DOD authorization bill.  

“Retirement pay is a hard-earned benefit for our veterans and I’m glad that we have sent a strong signal to both conferees and to the White House that we stand with our nation's veterans.  For weeks, the conference committee has been stalled over the issue of concurrent receipt, in part due to the president's veto threat.  It is unfortunate that the authorization bill has not been enacted -- it's good legislation that enjoys a majority of support in both chambers.  We cannot afford to allow the president to play political games with the health and well-being of our servicemen and women and our veterans,” said Smith.  “I believe that all our veterans should be justly compensated for their service and dedication, and I am hopeful that we can reach agreement on concurrent receipt and pass this critically important legislation.  I remain committed to seeing concurrent receipt not only enacted, but fully funded and will do all I can to further its progress.”

In addition to the resolving the concurrent receipt inequity, the Defense Authorization bill greatly improves the quality of life for our men and women in uniform.  The bill provides a 4.1 percent military pay raise, with larger pay increases for mid-grade and senior non-commissioned officers and mid-grade officers, reduces out-of-pocket housing costs for military personnel by increasing housing allowances to cover 92.5 percent of all housing costs and provides $500 million more than the president’s request, for military construction and family housing projects.

Under present law, service-disabled military retirees must surrender a portion of their retired pay if they want to receive the disability compensation to which they are entitled.  Congress enacted this unjust law in 1891, and it affects approximately 550,000 disabled military retirees.  Military retirees are the only federal employees affected by the offset.  For 17 years, legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives to correct this long-standing inequity.  The Retired Pay Restoration Act has received strong bipartisan support in Congress with more than 400 cosponsors in the House and 82 cosponsors in the Senate.  

Earlier this year, the House of Representatives approved the Fiscal Year 2003 budget resolution, which included funding for a partial repeal of the dollar-for-dollar offset of military retired pay and VA disability compensation. On May 9, 2002, the House of Representatives approved H.R. 4546, the Bob Stump National Defense Authorization Act, which follows the FY 2003 budget resolution and includes a provision to authorize military retirees who are 60 percent or greater disabled to receive their full retired pay and VA disability compensation benefit by Fiscal Year 2007.  

As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Adam Smith has been a strong advocate of full funding for concurrent receipt.  He believes that health care is a critical issue not only for our military retirees and their dependents, but also for those who are considering a career in the military.  Improving the treatment of personnel, retirees and veterans is not only the right thing to do, but is critical to our national security.  If we want to continue leading the world in military power, we must have to have the best Armed Services.

This week Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), joined by Rep. George Gekas (R-Pa.), introduced H.R. 5588, the Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act of 2002, to increase penalties on identity theft crimes.   The legislation mirrors S. 2541, introduced by Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), which was developed in coordination with the Justice Department to help law enforcement capture and prosecute serious identity thieves. 

“I am very pleased to be introducing this legislation today with Rep. Gekas.  With over 500,000 victims last year alone, identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America. One in five American families have been victimized by identity theft,” said Smith.  “Our legislation makes it easier for prosecutors to target those identity thieves who steal an identity for the purpose of committing other serious crimes, including murder and terrorism.”

H.R. 5588 would create a separate crime of “aggravated identity theft” for any person who uses the identity of another person to commit certain serious, federal crimes.  Specifically, the legislation would provide for an additional two-year penalty for any individual convicted of committing one of the following serious federal crimes while using the identity of another person.  This includes stealing another person's identity in order to illegally obtain citizenship in the United States; obtain a passport or visa; commit bank, wire or mail fraud, or steal from employee pension funds; and commit a variety of other serious federal crimes, all of them felonies. 

It would also provide an additional five-year penalty for any individual who uses the stolen identity of another person to commit any one of the enumerated federal terrorism crimes found in Title 18.  These crimes include the destruction of aircraft; assassination or kidnapping of high-level federal officials; bombings; hostage taking and providing material support to terrorist organizations. 

Third, this bill also strengthens the ability of law enforcement to go after identity thieves and prove cases by permitting law enforcement to target individuals who possess the identity documents of another person with the intent to commit a crime.  Current federal law prohibits the transfer or use of false identity documents, but does not specifically ban the possession of those documents with the intent to commit a crime.  H.R. 5588 also increases the maximum penalty for identity theft under current law from three years to five years. 

Fourth, the bill clarifies that the current 25-year maximum sentence for identity theft in facilitation of international terrorism also applies to domestic terrorism. 

Rep. Adam Smith has long been committed to fighting identity theft and has introduced H.R. 5424, which is designed to aid victims of identity theft recover their identities, protect their credit ratings and empower law enforcement with the tools to more effectively track down violators.  That legislation, also introduced with Rep. Gekas, is currently pending before the House Judiciary Committee.

 

Today Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), issued the following statement on the resolution authorizing use of force against Iraq:

“Saddam Hussein cannot be allowed to possess nuclear weapons.  After talking with Middle East experts, listening to my constituents, and hearing testimony from both Bush and Clinton administration officials, this truth is clear to me.  It is so critically important to the future of our world that we must use force if necessary to accomplish that goal.

“Saddam Hussein is not simply an evil dictator.  He is an unpredictable, sociopathic murderer who wants to be the dominant leader of the entire Arab world.  After coming to power, he cemented his rule by accusing of treason and then killing all those who might challenge him.  He executed many of these people personally.  He continues to execute entire families if he even suspects opposition from even one family member.  He used chemical weapons to kill tens of thousands of his own people in suppressing a challenge to his regime.  

“Hussein with nuclear weapons would subject the Iraqi people, the Middle East region, America, and the entire world to an unacceptable level of risk.  While it is unclear how far along he is in developing nuclear weapons, we know he has come close twice before and was thwarted first by Israel and then by America and the U.N. after the Gulf War.  We also know that Hussein is once again trying to develop nuclear weapons.   Although we cannot say for sure that Hussein would join forces with Al Qaeda or other terrorist organizations and help them use weapons of mass destruction against us, there is evidence of links between the two and we must be cognizant of this risk.        

“Some argue that Hussein, even with nuclear weapons, could be contained and is unlikely to use those weapons.  Unfortunately, Hussein has thus far proven a peaceful containment, consisting of sanctions and weapons inspections, to be untenable.    

“He invaded Kuwait even though he knew it would be unacceptable to the international community.  Even after the Gulf War, he had the audacity to challenge America by attempting to assassinate former President Bush.  He further challenged the international community by thwarting the U.N. inspections regime designed to prove Hussein had disarmed.  Saddam Hussein has obviously not been brought to heel and continues to push the envelope. Unfortunately, he has been getting away with it because both the U.N. and the U.S. have failed to act aggressively.

“Ideally, we could stop Hussein from obtaining weapons of mass destruction without war.  However, given Hussein’s history of violence, unpredictability, and animosity towards the United States, we simply must be prepared to use force if necessary.
“I write this even though I fear the consequences of war.  The cost in lives, both American and Iraqi, could be great.  I fear also the reaction of the Muslim world and the international community.  Greater hostility towards the United State will occur.  A post-Hussein Iraq could possibly descend into a bloody tribal war, presenting the region and the world with a new challenge.

“President Bush must do a much better job of making the case for military action, both at home and around the world, than he has thus far.  His rationale for war has bounced all over the map: Iraqi links to Al Qaeda; broken U.N. resolutions; the regional threat Hussein poses; possible threats to the United States; that Hussein ‘tried to kill my dad;’ and the threat of Hussein with weapons of mass destruction.  
 
“I am also troubled that the president has made it more difficult to garner international support by constantly sounding unnecessarily unilateral tones on issues ranging from Iraq to the Kyoto treaty.  His ‘wild west’ language, including his flippant remarks about the Middle East on the golf course, hasn’t allayed international fears that our President wants war with Iraq as a first option.

“He also brought unnecessary controversy into the debate by implying action against Iraq would be part of a new ‘pre-emptive strike’ doctrine.  Regardless of how one feels about a pre-emptive strike, that isn’t what we’re talking about here.  Hussein is in violation of the armistice that allowed him to remain in power after the Gulf War in exchange for disarmament and weapons inspections, and we have the right to enforce that armistice.

“Congressional and public pressure led the president to seek U.N. and international support for action against Hussein, a move I strongly supported.  While that process is currently underway, he is now asking for Congressional approval to use force if necessary in Iraq, which the House of Representatives will vote on this week.

“I will vote in favor of authorizing force against Iraq, because a violent madman like Saddam Hussein possessing nuclear weapons is unacceptable.  Ideally, I would prefer to vote on this resolution after the President has exhausted other options, particularly at the United Nations.  This could take two or three months.  I am disappointed that political leaders - on both sides of the aisle - are rushing through this resolution.  However, the vote is now, and for the reasons outlined, I believe that if force is necessary, force must be used.

“I sincerely hope the president works more effectively with our allies and makes his case more clearly.  It would be far better if the international community came together to disarm Iraq peacefully.  If that cannot be achieved, war - and the costly, complicated job of rebuilding Iraq - is more likely to succeed if the United States has broad international support. 

“As a Member of the House of Representatives, I promise the people I represent that this will not be my final word on the subject.  I will continue to work with the administration and fight for a broad international coalition, commitment to American values throughout the operation, and the best treatment of our military men and women who will be serving this country.”

Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) spoke on the House floor today regarding the resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq.  The following is a transcription of his remarks:

“Thank you, Mr. Speaker.  I rise in support of this resolution because I believe that the threat of force is required if we are to have any hope of disarming Saddam Hussein and removing the threat that he presents to our nation and to the world.

“Just about everybody agrees that Saddam Hussein does in fact pose a threat.  The debate seems to be about how large that threat is, how imminent it is and how much it is directed at us.  I think the evidence makes it clear that we face a threat.

“I am sympathetic to those who would like to wish away that threat because of the hard choice that we have to face when we realize that we do have a threat against us, but it does not change the facts. Saddam Hussein has a long history of trying to develop the most deadly weapons possible: chemical, biological and nuclear.  He was first thwarted in 1981 by Israel, then in 1991 by the Gulf War, and now all evidence points to the fact that he is trying to develop those weapons again.  That makes him a threat right off the bat.

“Plus he has a proven propensity for violence, a proven propensity to use those weapons.  As bad as we think that Iran and North Korea are, and the Soviet Union was, none of those countries have ever used chemical weapons.  They drew the line; Saddam Hussein did not.  He crossed over it and used chemical weapons against his own people.  

“He also has clearly expressed his disdain for the United States of America ever since the Gulf War, so clearly he is a threat to us.  

“The presence of international terrorism changes the nature of this threat.  Many have said we have not proven a link to 9/11, we have not proven a link between Saddam Hussein and Al Queda, but there is ample evidence that some degree of connection is there.  And there is certainly ample reason that tells us that Saddam Hussein coming together with the international terrorists who oppose us is quite likely and quite possible; and that makes the threat both imminent and to the US because terrorism would enable Saddam Hussein to deliver these weapons through means other than having to develop an intercontinental missile.  He could deliver them in any manner of different ways and has shown a certain willingness towards violence and against the US.  

“We face a threat.  We cannot wish away that threat because of the consequences of acknowledging it.  We face that threat, and we must stand up to it, and the threat of force against him is necessary to meet it.

“Now, I want to deal with the preemptive argument because many have said that we are becoming a rogue nation by doing this.  And I regret what the president has said about a policy of preemptive strike because I think it has muddied the waters.  We do not have to violate international law to go to war with Saddam Hussein.  We are in an armistice with Saddam Hussein and Iraq.  We went to war with them in 1991.  That war was only ended by an armistice, an armistice which everybody knows Saddam Hussein is in violation of.  We are clearly within the bounds of international law to use force to enforce that armistice.  We do not have to get into a debate about first strikes and preemptive action.  We are clearly within the bounds of international law.  

“It is also been said that we should work multilaterally.  And I completely agree that we should.  Again, I regret the approach that the president took earlier this year when stories were leaked about how he could do it without congressional approval, he did not want to go to the U.N., he wanted to do it unilaterally.  I think that was a mistake.  I think he should have learned from his father’s example when Iraq invaded Kuwait.  The first thing that the first George Bush did was to call the U.N. and say let’s work together.  We should have taken that approach immediately, but now we are.  

“It has been said, how can we give this power to the president who wants to go right over our heads and totally ignore Congress?  We’re here talking about it.  He is not going over our heads, he is asking us for that support.  So that too is not an issue.  

“We should act multilaterally.  We are.  It is my profound hope that we will not go to war, and that Saddam Hussein faced with this threat will allow for the disarmament to happen.  But absent this threat, rest assured he will not react in the way that we want him to.  

“I also regret that politics has been brought into this.  During the time when we were trying to deal with the crises in Kosovo and Bosnia and even Iraq in 1998, I was deeply angered by Republican colleagues who attacked the president’s character as he tried to deal with this threat.

“Mr. Speaker, the criticisms of President Clinton were that in trying to deal with Saddam Hussein, when he finally so thwarted the U.N. inspectors that they were forced to leave because they could not do their job, the criticism was that the president was ‘wagging the dog,’ he was dealing with his personal problems.  We undercut our own president at a time when he needed us most.  And now when I see Democrats doing the same thing by questioning the president’s motives at a time when we need to come together as a country, I similarly disdain that partisanship.  

“There’s plenty of room to disagree here about whether or not we should go to war, we do not need to question the personal motives of our president now anymore than we should have back in 1998 when it was Republicans doing it to Democrats instead of Democrats doing it to Republicans.

“Lastly, I would like to deal with the issue of how this affects the people of Iraq.  There has been much criticism of the sanctions regime on Iraq, much criticism of the effect that has had on the Iraqi people.  Ironically, that criticism has come from some of the same people who now criticize our threat to use force against Iraq.  I think the criticism was this is harming the Iraqi people and doing nothing to Saddam Hussein.  

“So if we don’t threaten to use force and back it up if necessary to disarm Saddam Hussein and remove that threat, what are we left with?  Do we simply remove the economic sanctions and say it’s okay for Saddam Hussein to make a mockery of international law, to make a mockery of the same multilateralism that we claim to support, to continue to develop weapons of mass destruction that threaten us and the world and simply say that we will do nothing?  

“I fully admit that this is a hard choice.  Going to war is not easy, but we cannot wish away the threat and pretend that somehow this is simply motivated by personal motivations of the president.  There is a clear threat here that we must deal with.  I hope the threat of force deals with it; but if the threat does not we must follow through in order to protect ourselves and the world.  Thank you.”

For more information on Congressman Adam Smith’s position on the resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq, please click here: http://www.house.gov/apps/list/press/wa09_smith/021009pr.html

The following is the statement Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) delivered today on the floor of the House: 

“Mr. Speaker, I rise today to extend my deepest condolences to the family of Sergeant First Class Mark Wayne Jackson who was killed in a bomb blast yesterday in Zamboanga, Philippines.  He died while advancing freedom, peace and stability in the Philippines and his family should be proud of his service and his work on behalf of the American people. 

“Sergeant Jackson, part of the 1st Special Forces Group at Fort Lewis, WA, was on the front lines of the global war against terrorism.  He served as a member of a U.S. force deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, helping to train the Philippine military to fight the Abu Sayyaf terrorist organization more effectively.  He will be remembered as one of our finest young Americans and he gave his life so that people throughout the world could be safer and more secure.

“I strongly condemn the cowardly terrorists who committed this act.  The Abu Sayyaf, who has been blamed for the attack, has been consistently linked to Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda network.  They represent a clear threat to America and we will continue the global campaign to uproot the terrorist cells and bring them to justice.  Through the efforts of the courageous and dedicated men and women in our armed forces, I am confident that we will prevail in this fight.”