Press Releases

Reps. Adam Smith (WA-09) and Brian Baird (WA-03) today co-chaired a joint subcommittee hearing between the House Science Committee and House Armed Services Committee to examine the role social and behavioral sciences can play in meeting our national security needs. Rep. Smith, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities, and Rep. Baird, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Research and Science Education, led the effort to explore opportunities for collaboration between the Department of Defense (DoD) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) in utilizing this scientific research to help soldiers serving in new combat situations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“The fight to stop the spread of terrorism is in large part a struggle to understand and work with local populations.  Our special operations forces and other military and civilian personnel work in dozens of countries and across many different cultures, and understanding the particulars of each is of enormous importance if we are to deny al-Qaida and other groups safe haven.  These interactions are a big component of American ‘soft power,’ and the more skilled and informed we become in this context, the better we will be able to root out insurgencies and terrorists.  Today’s hearing was an opportunity for our subcommittees to learn more about the role social and behavioral sciences can play in our national security,” Smith said.

“Our country has invested billions of dollars in mapping the physical terrain of combat zones based on the recognition that it would be foolhardy to send our soldiers into unknown terrain because it would endanger our soldiers and their mission,” said Chairman Baird.  “What I find so encouraging and interesting about today’s hearing is the recognition that human terrain, which we may not be able to map by satellite or GPS, is just as important to the success of our mission, the survival of our soldiers, and the people were trying to protect.”

During the joint hearing, members explored how NSF research in the social and behavioral sciences can help the nation achieve its national security goals, including empowering soldiers or combat units to adapt and maneuver in foreign cultures and stressful situations. The Subcommittees also examined what new tools, technologies and training programs researchers can use to help soldiers adapt to the current irregular warfare environment in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Subcommittee Members heard testimony from the following witnesses: Dr. André van Tilborg, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Science and Technology, Department of Defense; Colonel Martin Schweitzer, Commander 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division; Dr. Mark Weiss, Division Director for Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences & Directorate for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences, National Science Foundation; Dr. David Segal, Professor of Sociology and Director of the Center for Research on Military Organization, University of Maryland.

Today’s military witness, Col. Schweitzer, highlighted an example of the practical application of this research in an operational setting.  Col. Schweitzer recently returned from Afghanistan, where he worked with a Human Terrain Team (HTT), which places civilian and uniformed scientists on the ground in order to provide soldiers with better knowledge of the culture in which they are operate.

For more information on this hearing or to access witness testimony, visit the Committee’s website:

Reps. Adam Smith and Brian Baird

Armed Services hearing panel

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today issued the following statement regarding H.R. 5613, the Protecting the Medicaid Safety Net Act, which passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 349 - 62.  Smith voted for the bill.

“The President’s proposed Medicaid regulations would have forced deep cuts to federal Medicaid funding to Washington state.  Those regulations would have put in jeopardy important support for millions of beneficiaries nationwide by slashing $18 billion in funding to states for essential Medicaid programs and services.  The bill we passed tonight will prevent – at least temporarily – cuts that would particularly affect children, the elderly, and people with disabilities who rely on Medicaid,” Smith said.

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today voted in favor of H.R. 2634, the Jubilee Act for Responsible Lending and Expanded Debt Cancellation Act.  The bill will build on past success in relieving 30 poor countries of roughly $80 billion dollars of debt since 1996.  Debt relief for the world’s poorest countries is one of the most important ways we can help the developing world and reduce extreme poverty in the areas of most dire need.  The bill passed by a vote of 285 – 132.

“Rising food prices highlight how essential it is for our country to take a lead in the fight against extreme poverty around the world.  Debt relief programs are some of our most effective measures to aid poor nations in getting back on their feet.  While faced with stifling debt payments, it is nearly impossible for heavily indebted countries to make progress on HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, general health care, education, and poverty reduction. This bill directs the Administration to seek an agreement with the World Bank, IMF and the Paris Club to expand debt relief to up to 24 additional impoverished countries,” Smith said.

H.R. 2634 would require countries meet certain criteria before qualifying for debt relief, which relate to:

*          human rights,

*          public financial management,

*          budget transparency, and

*          open and fair elections.

The bill requires savings from debt relief to be used toward a wide variety poverty reduction activities.  For example, Uganda used its $57.9 million in savings from debt relief in 2006 to invest in energy and water infrastructure, primary education, malaria control, and health care.    

Smith is a senior member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and is the sponsor of H.R. 1302, the Global Poverty Act, which would require the Administration craft a comprehensive strategy to reduce global poverty.

The Senate must now consider H.R. 2634 before the President can sign it into law. 

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today pushed the top Defense Department acquisition official to provide more information related to the recent tanker decision involving Northrup Grumman / EADS and Boeing.  Smith questioned Under Secretary for Defense for Acquisition John J. Young, Jr. during a joint hearing of the House Armed Services Committee Air & Land Forces and Sea Power & Expeditionary Forces Subcommittees.

“This decision raises a number of serious issues, from procurement process concerns to trade and economic implications.  The key point that came out during my exchange with Under Secretary Young was that the Air Force did not take into account the illegal government subsidies provided to Airbus by European governments – the very subsidies that our government is currently suing the European Union over.  As our own government has argued, subsidies like these allow companies unfair advantages against U.S. competitors and are illegal under international trade rules.  The Air Force procurement officials, however, did not take that critical factor into consideration meaning that as a question of policy it is up to Congress to take a closer look.  Watch for Congress to do so in the coming days,” Smith said.

Partial Transcript

Smith: Did you consider the subsidy issue?  Because one of the things we are really wrestling with here is that we are starting a WTO case against Airbus for unfairly subsidizing its competition against U.S. products.  It’s obvious the case is still in development but for years it hasn’t been terribly debated that Airbus is subsidized.  At a minimum they have a bank out there that they can take risk against that they know will cover them, which is no small item.  So … how do we balance as a government that we have on the one hand complaining about a subsidized competitor and then on the other hand giving that subsidized competitor a contract when arguably part of the reason they are able to keep their costs down is because they are being unfairly subsidized?

Young:  Again, the laws and regulations really don’t let me address in any way the subsidy issue that will be settled in another forum on a nation-to-nation and on an international forum. What we evaluated was the products that were proposed.  I did have a discussion with the Air Force to try to make sure, and I would do this in any process; it’s not just this particular program.  We don’t want an industry to buy in to a program because usually that comes back to haunt us in terms of increasing costs and other factors.  My understanding is that the Air Force assessed both team’s proposals; both team’s proposals present accurate assessments of their costs, and both teams proposals, I will tell you, include profits for both makers.  So we believe they both proposed their costs plus profits, we evaluated those performance and those costs benefits to the government.

Smith: So just so I can clarify: your decision therefore was based in no way on the subsidy issue, whether they were subsidized or not.  So in essence what you are saying is, if that is an issue of public policy, it would be an issue of public policy that Congress will have to address.  It was not addressed in your original decision…if that was an issue that was important to the country it would be something that Congress would have to deal with.

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith today released the following statement regarding the U.S. Air Force’s decision to award a long-anticipated contract to build aerial refueling tankers to Northrop Grumman/EADS rather than Boeing:

“I am very disappointed in the Air Force’s decision on the tanker contract.  While I am sure that the Air Force’s process was fair and open, I look forward to reading in detail their justification, as the Defense Department had previously identified Boeing tankers as highly-rated, cost-effective updates to the force.  Our regional producer had a very competitive bid, and I am disappointed that the Air Force did not select our home-grown, innovative solution to their needs.”