Press Releases

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.”

Today Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), led a group of his Washington colleagues in urging Totem Ocean Trailer Express Inc., the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshoremen and Warehouse Union to come to agreement over the cargo bound for Alaska, which is currently docked at the Port of Tacoma.  

The letter, addressed to Mr. Bob Magee, President and CEO of Totem Ocean Trailer Express follows:

“We are writing today to express our concern regarding the labor negotiations between Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshoremen and Warehouse Union (ILWU).  We are hopeful that we can work together and find a solution to the immediate problem of Alaska cargo.

“We understand that Totem is not a member of the PMA and therefore not subject to the lockout order; however, Stevedoring Services of America, which provides contract services to you, is a PMA member and therefore subject to the lockout.

“The ILWU has informed us that they are willing to continue loading and unloading cargo for Alaska on your vessels.  Not only would this be critical for Alaska consumers, who rely on cargo shipped from the west coast ports for groceries and other essential goods, but it is also essential for our many military bases in Alaska.  

“We request that you work directly with the ILWU to fulfill your duties to the consumers and men and women in uniform in Alaska.  Due to the fact that this matter is extremely urgent, please respond to us as soon as possible.”

Click here to view the full text of the letter.

Congressman Adam Smith (WA-9, Tacoma) is currently looking for spring interns for his Washington D.C. office, as well as year-round internships for his Tacoma, Washington office.  The Washington D.C. will be from January 6, 2003 - May 15, 2003.  Interns will learn about the daily operations of Congress and its inner workings as part of a hard-working team of people working each day to better serve the citizens of Washington state.

Interns responsibilities consist of both administrative and legislative duties including attending committee hearings, briefings, researching and writing responses to constituent inquiries, opening mail and answering the phones.

Applicants must be undergraduate students who have completed at least one semester/quarter of college.  Students should be interested in the legislative process and have strong writing and research skills.  The willingness to undertake a variety of projects and the ability to work independently is also important.  

Internships are available for school credit if approved by the college/university.

For information or details on internships, contact Katy Andrew, D.C. Office Manager and Scheduler, at (202) 225-8901 or email her at katy.andrew@mail.house.gov.

Deadline for Washington D.C. spring 2003 intern applications is November 1, 2002.  To be considered for a D.C. internship, please email Katy Andrew at katy.andrew@mail.house.gov with the following information in a complete application: cover letter, resume, and a one-page statement on why you would like to be a congressional intern.  

There is no deadline for internships in the Tacoma, Washington office.  For more information, please contact Diane Brazell at (253) 593-6600 or diane.brazell@mail.house.gov for more details on positions in the district.  District office intern applications should include a cover letter expressing your interest in the internship program and a current resume.

The leaders of the New Democrat Coalition expressed their frustration today with the inactivity in the House of Representatives on critical legislation.  Since Congress’ return to session, the Republican leadership has failed to schedule a vote on legislation that enjoys broad bipartisan support and that they themselves have declared to be high priorities - Bankruptcy Reform and the Export Administration Act.  Meanwhile, with the fiscal year on the verge of expiring, the leadership has allowed intra-party politics to bring the appropriations process to a grinding halt.

Today New Democrat Coalition co-chairs Reps. Jim Davis (D-Fla.), Ron Kind (D-Wisc.) and Adam Smith (D-Wash.) issued the following statement:

“While the House leadership is scheduling little more than non-controversial suspensions for debate, widely supported bankruptcy reform legislation has been repeatedly pulled from the floor because a small group of far-right Republicans are holding their own leadership hostage.  One piece of legislation labeled a White House priority, the Export Administration Act, has languished for months as the Republican leadership has failed to seek a compromise between the two Committees’ chairmen.  At the same time, Congress is well behind on the appropriations process, with the House having only taken up five of the 13 regular appropriation bills needed to fund the federal government for the fiscal year beginning October 1.

“The New Democrat Coalition has continuously offered support to the House Leadership on bankruptcy reform.  Last year, bankruptcy legislation passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support including the votes of 50 members of the New Democrat Coalition and several members of the Democratic leadership.  Our group has consistently made this legislation a top priority and has delivered a wide base of support for the bill.  

“Most recently, on September 3rd, 30 New Democrats sent a letter to Rep. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) expressing support for this year’s fair, balanced and reasonable bankruptcy reform conference report.  We pledged to work hard with leadership to make sure that this legislation passed this year.  But rather than moving forward in a bipartisan fashion, the Republican leadership bowed to pressure from the extreme elements of their party and withdrew the bill from the calendar, yet again.

“The Export Administration Act has also languished thanks to Republican Party in-fighting.  Many of the nation's leading defense experts recognize the need to fundamentally revamp the way we protect our nation's security, and the bottom line is that export control reform is critical to the future of U.S. global economic, technological and military leadership.  For years, New Democrats have been working to change the debate on export controls from a false choice between profits and national security to a matter of improving national security while maintaining U.S. competitiveness.  

“It seems clear that the White House is committed to ensuring passage of appropriate export control legislation and the New Democrats continue to be willing and eager to work with them to make that happen.  Unfortunately, despite our regular offers of support, and requests for meetings to discuss a bipartisan plan to move this crucial legislation forward, the House Republican leadership has continued to ignore all calls for action and reform.  Instead, they have proven unwilling to work with their own party’s chairmen to pass legislation that the White House has asked to see on the floor.

“Meanwhile, with the end of the fiscal year rapidly approaching, the leadership is also refusing to bring to the floor the appropriations bills that we must pass to keep our government running.  Apparently, the leadership, in another bow to their right-wing Republican members, would rather send the House home for another long weekend than spend this Friday voting on any of the four appropriations bills that are ready for floor debate. 

“We, as members of the New Democrat Coalition, wonder what the Republican leadership is waiting for.  We see them torn between the two competing interests of intra-party politics and effective legislating.  We ask them to choose bipartisan action on these, and other, important issues and not to allow the narrow special interests in their own party handicap the legislative business of this nation.”