Press Releases

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, seven House Democratic national security leaders sent a letter to Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen and Defense Secretary James Mattis to oppose President Trump’s recent decision to deploy National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border. Given the potential cost and with border crossings at a 40-year low, the Administration must provide a thorough justification and plan for any deployment of troops and use of taxpayer funds. News reports indicate the Administration is only now drafting a deployment plan, indicating how rushed this decision was, while some governors have now begun committing troops for this operation.

The letter was signed by House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith, Committee on Homeland Security Ranking Member Bennie G. Thompson, Judiciary Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler, Oversight & Government Reform Ranking Member Elijah E. Cummings, Homeland Security Border & Maritime Security Ranking Member Filemon Vela, Judiciary Immigration & Border Security Subcommittee Ranking Member Zoe Lofgren, and Oversight & Government Reform National Security Subcommittee Ranking Member Stephen F. Lynch.

In the letter, the Members write:

“A deployment of this kind is not to be made lightly. Thorough consideration of the justification for such a deployment, along with the implications and costs for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Defense (DOD), and affected stakeholders well in advance of such a deployment are both required and essential.”

“As you are undoubtedly aware, border security has been a rigorously discussed topic over the past year. We are surprised and puzzled as to why neither of you nor other members of the Administration mentioned a possible deployment of the National Guard to the southern border before. For example, Secretary Nielsen never once mentioned the potential need to use the National Guard for border security purposes when testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on January 16, 2018. In subsequent press briefings and televised Cabinet meetings, this approach was not discussed either.”

“A hastily and poorly designed deployment could have significant negative impacts on our national security, border security, and on the communities located along the U.S.-Mexico border.”

Link to Letter.

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“With the passing of Rev. Dr. Samuel B. McKinney, our community has lost an instrumental leader of the civil rights movement.  After moving to Seattle in 1957 to become a pastor in the historic Mount Zion Baptist Church, Reverend McKinney was a pastor in the church for over 40 years. A former classmate of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, he played a fundamental role in Dr. King’s trip to Seattle.

“As spiritual leader for many in the African-American community in Seattle, Reverend McKinney understood that for African-Americans to be fully empowered, they must be supported and uplifted economically. When he arrived in Seattle, he witnessed systematic injustices such as discrimination, redlining, high unemployment among African-Americans. Reverend McKinney established numerous organizations and businesses to combat discrimination.  He helped establish the first black-owned bank to challenge practices such as restricted loans. He also co-founded the Seattle Opportunities Industrialization Center, a vocational training organization. Though Reverend McKinney has passed away, his legacy and advocacy for equal rights of African-Americans will remain ever present in the Greater Seattle community.”

Smith Statement Opposing Deployment of National Guard Troops to Southern Border

Washington D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith released the following statement in response to the recent deployment on National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border

April 10, 2018

“President Trump’s decision to deploy the National Guard on the U.S. border is an ill-conceived, unnecessary stunt that inappropriately militarizes the issue of immigration enforcement. He appears to have based his decision largely on reports disseminated by conservative talk shows. The fact remains that according to the U.S. Border Patrol, for Fiscal Year 2017, illegal border crossings are at their lowest levels since 1971. It is unclear what deploying the military for an indefinite period of time will accomplish that our civil authorities have not already done, beyond sending a discriminatory message to people fleeing violence and conflict, and diverting funds away from rebuilding military readiness.

“What we really need is comprehensive immigration reform and an end to demagoguery, and the President has taken us in the exact opposite direction. Frankly, if this Administration was committed to decreasing the number of displaced persons fleeing incredible violence and conflict, they would invest heavily in international development programs that work to reduce fragility, and strengthen rule of law, and increase economic opportunities in these countries. Trump’s decision fails to even remotely address the root causes of the issue at hand.”

 “President Trump’s decision to ban transgender military service is vicious, inhumane, and utterly wrong. There are scores of transgender men and women serving in the military right now, under a policy that had already been established & vetted by DOD and validated by the courts.

“There is zero credible evidence that this policy has negatively affected readiness. By issuing this decision, President Trump has engaged in an act of pure discrimination against people who sacrifice every day to serve their country—and who have been doing so for years.

“Stripping patriotic service members of their ability to serve openly in this way goes against American values. I condemn this decision and will continue to fight it with all of my abilities.

“Congress should start by passing the bipartisan bill I introduced last October that would protect transgender members of the U.S. military by preventing DoD from removing currently serving members of the Armed Forces based solely on their gender identity.”

Smith Statement Opposing Fiscal Year 2018 Omnibus

Washington D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith released the following statement today in response to his vote to oppose the Fiscal Year 2018 Omnibus spending package:

March 22, 2018

“Today the House of Representatives passed an omnibus spending bill that funds the federal government through the end of September. This bill will give more certainty to our federal agencies, but unfortunately it underfunds key areas of the budget and takes us further down our current path of fiscal irresponsibility by ballooning our federal debt and increasing our already unmanageable deficit.  

“Many vital environmental programs that protect our health and public lands will not be sufficiently funded.  It also underinvests in our core diplomatic and aid missions which are essential components of our national security. As rates of displaced individuals across the world reach historic highs on top of worsening famines, disease outbreaks, and weakening fragile states, it is critical that we focus on global engagement and not allow diplomacy and development efforts to stagnate.  

“Additionally, the omnibus ignores a number of critical policy priorities. The bill does not provide any solution to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) crisis the President created last year.  It also chips away at the core tenets of the Affordable Care Act, without providing any meaningful solutions to improve our health care system. We also missed the opportunity to provide protections for Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 election.

“The omnibus took a small step in addressing the epidemic of gun violence by strengthening the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) but this is not enough. Our communities have made it clear that they want significant and comprehensive policy solutions to the gun violence that remains pervasive through our country.  Overall, this bill does not deliver the solutions that will provide opportunities for and protect the livelihoods of all Americans.”