Press Releases

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Adam Smith (WA-09) and Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urging the State Department to work with the Ethiopian government and other stakeholders to address violence and violations of human rights in Ethiopia.

“As representatives of one of the largest Ethiopian Diaspora groups in the country, we are alarmed by the growing unrest and reports of human rights abuses in Ethiopia,” wrote Reps. Smith and Jayapal. “Ethiopia is an important partner in the region that helps promote security and economic and political stability… Disturbing reports of widespread violence against ethnic and religious communities threaten the stability and social fabric of the country.”

“Furthermore, we are concerned about the arrests and detention of individuals, particularly youth, that are potentially politically motivated,” the Reps. continued. “A peaceful and stable Ethiopia is important to the United States, to security and prosperity in the region, and to the Ethiopian Diaspora communities across the U.S. We urge you to work with the Ethiopian government and other stakeholders to bring an end to the violence and restore democratic norms and human rights in Ethiopia.”

You can read the full letter here and below:

The Honorable Michael R. Pompeo
Secretary
United States Department of State
2201 C Street NW 85
Washington, D.C. 20520 

Dear Secretary Pompeo:

As representatives of one of the largest Ethiopian Diaspora groups in the country, we are alarmed by the growing unrest and reports of human rights abuses in Ethiopia. Ethiopia is an important partner in the region that helps promote security and economic and political stability. We urge the Department of State to do everything in its power to work towards a peaceful resolution to the violence and to restore democratic processes and human rights.

When Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office in 2018, we were encouraged to see his commitment to economic and political reforms within Ethiopia and to pursuing peace with neighboring countries. Unfortunately, recent events undermine progress in these areas. Excessive use of force against protestors by the Ethiopian security forces have been documented. This comes on the heels of limits on free speech and restrictions on an open internet that run counter to the inclusive, open political reforms committed to by Prime Minister Abiy early in his tenure. In addition, disturbing reports of widespread violence against ethnic and religious communities threaten the stability and social fabric of the country.

Furthermore, we are concerned about the arrests and detention of individuals, particularly youth, that are potentially politically motivated. This includes the arrests of two Washington state residents on June 30, 2020, Yusuf Beshir and Redwan Aman. Both have since been released on bail but are not allowed to leave the country. Concerns for their safety remain especially as violence and unrest grows. We ask that you work with the Ethiopian government to ensure due process in their cases and the safe return of both Yusuf and Redwan to their communities here in Washington.

A peaceful and stable Ethiopia is important to the United States, to security and prosperity in the region, and to the Ethiopian Diaspora communities across the U.S. We urge you to work with the Ethiopian government and other stakeholders to bring an end to the violence and restore democratic norms and human rights in Ethiopia.

Sincerely,

###

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and lead sponsor Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) issued the following statement on passage of the Accelerating Veterans Recovery Outdoors Act which would help expand opportunities for military veterans to heal and seek treatment through outdoor recreation and public lands. The bill was included as part of nine provisions in the Veterans COMPACT Act to address gaps in current law to ensure veterans in crisis can receive emergency mental health care regardless of cost and better address issues that may lead to suicide.

“Access to the outdoors can have a profound impact on our veterans’ mental health and a tangible effect on physical wellbeing as a part of comprehensive therapy,” said Reps. Adam Smith and Chris Smith. “Veteran assistance groups agree that access to nature, combined with other treatments like group activities, have positive therapeutic effects on veterans especially those struggling with combat-related injuries or post-traumatic stress.

“By bringing together stakeholders from veterans, environmental, and outdoor recreation organizations, the Accelerating Veterans Recovery Outdoors Act will help increase opportunities for veterans and their families to experience the benefits of the public lands and outdoors spaces that their service to our country has protected,” the Reps. continued. “We are proud to see the House passage of this bipartisan legislation, and we commend our colleagues for recognizing the need for this legislation to help our nation’s veterans and their families experience the outdoors – we urge our colleagues in the Senate to do the same.”

###

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, today issued the following statement after reports by The Washington Post highlighted that the Department of Defense repurposed funds allocated for pandemic relief.

“Today’s reporting confirms once again that the Trump Administration continues to exploit the trust of the American people. The congressional allocation of $1 billion under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act of 2020 (CARES Act), was intended to increase the short-term and long-term domestic production of critically needed medical supplies and equipment. Instead of focusing on a clear, coordinated strategy to produce and acquire the medical supplies necessary to respond to the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis, the Trump Administration carved up this billion-dollar appropriation and spent three dollars on defense contracts for every dollar it spent on acquiring health resources.

“I’ve long said that the Pentagon’s budget, which has continued to surge over time, is more than adequate to meet DoD’s operational needs. It is alarming that they have not properly aligned their spending with strategic priorities and continue to ask for more. DoD has requested an additional $5.3 billion for Defense Production Act Title III investments without providing a properly detailed spend plan.

“Our nation is counting on bold actions to bring us out of the grips of the pandemic crisis. With the safety and lives of our health care, first responder, and essential workforces at stake, the Department must be held accountable to administer the funding in the way Congress intended.”

###

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.) issued the following statement after President Trump announced he would nominate a candidate to fill the Supreme Court vacancy this Saturday.

“The President and Senate Republicans’ decision to move forward with a Supreme Court nomination flies in the face of precedent and their own words. 237 days before the 2016 election, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that a Supreme Court nominee should not be appointed and confirmed during an election year. We heard this same argument repeatedly from Senate Republicans. Yet the very night Justice Ginsburg passed, 46 days out from the 2020 election, Senate Republicans decided that they would vote on her replacement.

“As we knew all along, Senate Republicans were never acting on principle when they blocked the confirmation of Merrick Garland in 2016. They are continuing to show their true colors by dismissing their own arguments from 2016 so they can rush a nominee through the Senate weeks before an election. It is important to remember what is at stake here. The fate of the Affordable Care Act, civil rights, abortion and women’s access to health care, LGBTQ+ rights, the environment, campaign finance, and more all hang in the balance.

“Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s legacy will forever be enshrined in our country’s history as a pioneer for equal justice and ensuring that the most vulnerable were given protection under our Constitution. She has left a profound impact on issues such as gender discrimination, voting rights, access to health care, same-sex marriage, and countless more issues that represent progress towards justice and quality.

“Justice Ginsburg made clear that she wished a replacement not be appointed until after the winner of the 2020 election is sworn in to ensure that the American people have their voices heard. I urge the Senate to honor her final request.”

###

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.) issued the following statement after the Department of Justice named Seattle, Portland, and New York City ‘anarchist jurisdictions’ as justification for attempting to withhold federal funding:

“Attorney General Bill Barr’s effort to cut off federal aid from Seattle, Portland, and New York City is another baseless, unlawful move by President Trump and his administration to use the federal government for political purposes and distract from his failed leadership. The law still applies to President Trump and Attorney General Barr and their attempts to withhold congressionally appropriated money blatantly violate the separation of powers.

“President Trump is distracting from real crises and his failed leadership by fearmongering. As the U.S. reaches 200,000 deaths from COVID-19, he continues to ignore science and fail to respond to the pandemic. The President has unsurprisingly only further divided us as protests around the country have demanded progress on racial justice and police reform. This latest campaign stunt attempting to hold taxpayer funds hostage from American cities will not distract us from the critical issues facing our country.”

###