Press Releases

WASHINGTON—Today, a bipartisan group of House members introduced legislation to promote more effective development in fragile and unstable countries, addressing the conditions that create safe havens for terrorists, criminal networks, and war lords. The Global Fragility and Violence Reduction Act (H.R. 5273) would require the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to ramp up coordination with the Departments of State and Defense to develop a global initiative aimed at preventing the root causes of violence and instability in countries around the world.

The bill was introduced in the House by Representatives Eliot L. Engel (D-NY), Ted Poe (R-TX), Michael McCaul (R-TX), Adam Smith (D-WA), Bill Keating (D-MA), and Paul Cook (R-CA).

“The United States has been at war for 16 years and has spent decades more working to stabilize fragile countries. This bill would make us take a hard look at what’s working and what isn’t, and help relevant agencies work more closely to tackle this challenge. After all, when we help countries become stronger and more stable, we make it harder for terrorists, criminals, and other violent groups to put down roots. That makes the United States and our partners safer,” said Rep. Engel, Ranking Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs. “I’m pleased to join with this group of lawmakers that spans the aisle to offer this measure and I hope the House acts on it soon.”

“With the rise of modern terrorism, fragile and failing states have become breeding grounds for radicalism and terrorist activity, directly threatening the national security of the United States. We must spend our already existing foreign assistance money more effectively, preventing states from failing in the first place. This allows us to later avoid undertaking costly military and nation-building interventions where terrorists find safe haven. Using the lessons we have learned over the last two decades, we must require our government develop long-term strategies to address conditions which lead to violent failed states, ultimately weaning them off American aid. The bipartisan Global Fragility and Violence Reduction Act will ensure our taxpayer money is spent on carefully planned strategies that contribute to our national security and reduce violence abroad,” said Rep. Poe, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade.

“We cannot relent in our efforts to deny extremist groups territory from which they can conduct operations against the United States and the West. As ISIS and other terror groups and individuals spread violence and hatred in societies across the globe, it is clear that denying safe havens is simply not enough. Therefore, those charged with combatting terror around the world must be able to evolve with the dynamic and evolving threat landscape. This legislation requires the relevant governmental agencies to produce an integrated strategy to keep terrorists off the battlefield by drying up the unstable, fertile ground from which they recruit—a process I call ‘deny and dry.’ This bill will also proactively prioritize the resources necessary to eradicate terror hot spots and ensure we accomplish our goal of a more peaceful and stable world,” said Rep. McCaul, Chair of the Committee on Homeland Security.

“Around the world, instability in the form of conflict, famine, or disease sends millions of people fleeing from their homes annually. We are in the midst of an unprecedented global refugee crisis, with nations across the globe grappling with how to respond. The United States has a proud history of leading the international community in helping others during times of strife—however it is essential that our bodies of government that carry out these missions coordinate with one another. This legislation represents a significant first step in bringing the defense, diplomatic, and development communities of the United States to the same table, working to help answer the challenges of poverty and violence overseas,” said Rep. Smith, Ranking Member of the Committee on Armed Services.

“Instability breeds insecurity, and the more instability there is in the world, the longer we will continue to see extremism take hold in communities,” said Rep. Keating, Ranking Member of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade and Co-Chair of the Congressional Counterterrorism Caucus. “Based on everything we’ve learned over the decades we’ve been combatting terrorism, assisting countries struggling with instability is our greatest opportunity to eliminate the threat of violence. This bill is a critical first step in building a strategy to tackle this challenge more effectively through long-term investments to strengthen and secure communities, helping countries become more resilient to extremism.”

Violence and violent conflict have become the leading causes of displacement worldwide, resulting in an unprecedented 66 million forcibly displaced people, while preventable violence kills at least 1.4 million people annually. Containing violence costs the global economy $14.3 trillion a year (13.4 percent of world GDP).

US National Security Strategies over the past 15 years affirm that America has a national-security interest in better preventing and mitigating violence, violent conflict, and fragility. Lessons learned over the past 20 years show that doing so will require more clearly defined goals, strategies, and interagency coordination.

The Global Fragility and Violence Reduction Act would charge USAID and the State and Defense Departments with designating 10 pilot countries from several regions of the world and implementing 10-year plans for addressing violence and fragility in those countries. The bill requires these agencies and departments to apply lessons learned and robust standards for measuring effectiveness and to adapt their efforts based on results. It also requires a mid-term evaluation by the Government Accountability Office, to provide an outside perspective on additional areas of improvement.

 

The following organizations have endorsed this legislation: Alliance for Peacebuilding, American Friends Service Committee, CARE, Carl Wilkens Fellowship, Center for Civilians in Conflict, Center on Conscience & War, Charity & Security Network, Chemonics, Church of the Brethren, Office of Public Witness, Conference of Major Superiors of Men, Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, US Provinces, Cure Violence, Educators Institute for Human Rights, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Global Communities, Humanity United Action, i-ACT, International Alert, International Crisis Group, International Rescue Committee, Jewish World Watch, Karuna Center for Peacebuilding, Mercy Corps, National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, National Latino Evangelical Coalition, Pax Christi International, Pax Christi USA, Peace Direct, PRBB Foundation, SaferWorld, Search for Common Ground, STAND: Student-Led Movement to End Mass Atrocities, Stop Genocide Now, World Relief, World Vision. 

 

WASHINGTON – Representatives Adam Smith (Wash.) and Chris Smith (N.J.), along with U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (Mo.) and Mazie K. Hirono (Hawaii), today introduced the bipartisan Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2018. The legislation would close a loophole in the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 (CCA), which has prevented internationally-adopted children, who are now adults, from receiving U.S. citizenship despite being raised by American parents.

“I am proud to introduce the Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2018 with a bicameral and bipartisan group of my colleagues,” said Adam Smith. “Closing the existing loopholes in the Child Citizenship Act will ensure international adoptees are treated equally under U.S. law. This bill will positively impact thousands of Americans, by granting citizenship they should have had in the first place and fostering stability in their lives and communities. I look forward to working with my colleagues to advance this important legislation.”

“I have been working in adoption my entire career and I know that significant obstacles still persist in the daily lives of those who don’t benefit from the Child Citizenship Act purely because of their age, despite their having been legally adopted by U.S. citizens and raised in the United States,” said Chris Smith. “This important law will fix those obstacles for many residents here who meet its standards and who should be granted citizenship.”

“The Child Citizenship Act left thousands of internationally-adopted children, who are now adults, in an untenable position, facing everything from difficulty applying for a passport to possible deportation,” said Blunt. “These men and women were raised by American parents in the United States, and should have the same rights provided to other adoptees under the CCA. By fixing current law to meet the original goal of the CCA, we will help ensure these individuals have the security, stability, and opportunity their parents intended for them when they welcomed them into their families.”

“International adoptees who were adopted by American parents and raised as Americans should have the same rights of citizenship as biological children,” said Hirono. “I’m proud to work with Senator Blunt to close the loophole in the Child Citizenship Act and right this wrong.”

The CCA guarantees citizenship to most international adoptees, but the law only applies to adoptees who were under the age of 18 when the law took effect on February 27, 2001. The loophole denies citizenship to adoptees who were age 18 or over in February 2001, even though they were legally adopted as children by U.S. citizens and raised in the United States. The legislation introduced today fixes this problem by granting international adoptees citizenship unless they have been found guilty of a violent crime and have been deported.

Without citizenship, these international adoptees face many barriers, such as having trouble applying for a passport, license, or student financial aid. In some cases, they have been deported to the country in which they were born, where they may have no known family and little chance of succeeding.

In addition to the broad, bipartisan congressional support for the Adoptee Citizenship Act, the bill has garnered widespread praise among the nation’s leading adoption advocacy organizations. 

“The ACA of 2018 aims to implement automatic citizenship to internationally adopted individuals who from the time of adoption into American families, have lived without citizenship privileges and remain unprotected without the benefits intended by US Adoption Law,” said Raana Stiefel and Joy Alessi, Co-Directors, Adoptee Rights Campaign. “Passing the ACA 2018 will establish equality among adoptees and their adoptive families, prevent deportation, and promote economic stability. Adoptees will gain access to healthcare, educational, and retirement benefits. Citizenship recognition will also foster emotional healing for transracial adoptees who despite their American families, are not accepted by society as Americans. We thank our co-sponsors for their ongoing efforts to secure the basic right of citizenship to all intercountry adoptees of US citizen parents and the assurance of family permanency.”

“The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute is thrilled this legislative fix introduced by congressional champions for vulnerable children offers a long-needed solution to adoptees whose adoptive parents did not know they needed to take additional steps to seek U.S. citizenship for their children after their adoption finalizations,” said Becky Weichhand, Executive Director, Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute. “This correction reflects the powerful American legal precedent of treating children who are adopted as equal to biological children. The adoption community is grateful to Senators Blunt and Hirono, and Congressmen Adam Smith and Chris Smith, for their leadership in understanding and addressing this problem for adoptees.

 “35,000 international adoptee children of American parents have lived without their U.S. citizenship for too long due to a glitch in a law that was intended to help them,” said Pankit J. Doshi, President, National Asian Pacific American Bar Association. “Congress now has a chance to correct this oversight and change lives. We thank Senator Blunt, Senator Hirono, Congressman Adam Smith and Congressman Chris Smith for their leadership and commitment to these adoptees. We urge all Member of Congress to support the Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2018.”

“As part of our mission and vision, National Council For Adoption supports U.S. citizenship for all individuals legally adopted by U.S. citizens,” said Chuck Johnson, President and CEO, National Council For Adoption. “The Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2018 takes strides to recognize citizenship to the many adopted individuals not covered by the Citizenship Act of 2000 due to their birthdate or visa type. We thank the bill’s co-sponsors for introducing this legislation, and we urge Congress to grant internationally adopted children and adults the same citizenship rights as any child born to U.S. citizens.”

 

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith, Co-Founder and Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Effective Foreign Assistance, and fellow Co-Chair Congressman Ted Yoho (R-FL) have introduced H.R. 5105 – the Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development (BUILD) Act of 2018. Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker (R-TN) have introduced companion legislation in the Senate. Congressman Smith had these comments following introduction yesterday:

“The United States has a proud history of leading the international community in helping others during times of conflict, strife, and instability – times when people are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.  Since World War II, the United States has invested and supported economic growth in countries all around the world to ensure that people have the opportunity to live healthy lives and achieve their fullest potential. Through our partnerships with friends and allies, we work to raise up local communities – strengthening institutions, combating hunger and disease, and ensuring that development projects have sustainable, long lasting impacts.

“This legislation will strengthen the ability of the United States to promote critically needed projects in low- and lower-middle income nations. It streamlines authorities from other agencies into one central institution. U.S. diplomats and development officers working overseas will have one-stop-shop access to a suite of tools to help empower local communities, bringing technical assistance and partnerships to tackle their biggest humanitarian and development challenges. 

“To be clear – this initiative does not represent a shift away from grant-based direct assistance. Our commitment to providing help to those most in need remains unwavering. Investments in foreign assistance are a critical component of our overall national security, and I will continue to fight for these essential programs. The United States is uniquely positioned to help promote peace and stability, and the new International Development Finance Corporation (IDFC) will be at the forefront of helping nations transition into active participants in global markets.”

Smith Statement in Opposition to Budget Bill

Washington D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith released the following statement after voting in opposition to the government funding bill.

February 9, 2018

“I could have supported most, if not all, of the funding in this bill but for the fact that just two months ago, we cut taxes by $2 trillion dollars. This legislation is like quitting your job and only then deciding that you want to buy a new house and a second car. I am supportive of spending the money necessary to meet our country’s needs. I am not in favor of continuing to borrow it; I want to raise the revenue necessary. For this reason, I not only opposed the tax cut we passed in December, but I have also long insisted that we need to increase revenue to fund the priorities that are included in this bill.

“For the most part, the priorities contained in this legislation, such as disaster relief and modernizing infrastructure, are very important. While the defense spending it provides is higher than I would have preferred, we need to increase defense spending given the wars we’re fighting and the readiness crisis our military is facing.

“As a country, we have to be prepared to pay for the critical programs we need instead of putting them all on a credit card and sticking future generations with the bill. Ten years from now--even twenty years from now--I have no doubt that we will face national security threats, have disasters, and need to invest in infrastructure and health care. Where will the money come from when we are 25 or 30 trillion dollars in debt? We have to be fiscally responsible both in the way we spend and generate revenue. This legislation, combined with the recently passed tax cuts and all of the other tax cuts we’ve enacted in the last seventeen years, simply does not meet that test and puts us further down a fiscally irresponsible path that I cannot support.

“The other problem with this bill is that it does not address DACA or take action to help DREAMers. DACA remains a very important and deeply frustrating issue for me. Eighty percent of the country supports the DREAMers and enacting a clean fix for DACA into law. More than a majority of the House has expressed support for solving this crisis, yet Speaker Ryan refuses to allow a vote for the democratic process to play out. Democrats alone cannot force him to do that. Instead, we have to look for leverage to compel him to do what he should. Unfortunately, we are limited in our ability to drive the agenda. Even after the Senate did not provide the votes to keep the government open last month, Speaker Ryan still refused to allow a vote on DACA.

“I will continue to look for every conceivable point of leverage to push Speaker Ryan and the Republicans to do the right thing on DACA. Ultimately, only the Majority can make that decision. Everyone in the country--in addition to the Democrats in Congress--needs to continue to put pressure on Speaker Ryan to act on clean DACA legislation. I will continue to do my part.”

 

 

Congressman Adam Smith Delivers Weekly Democratic Address

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith of Washington, Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, delivered the Weekly Democratic Address.  In this week’s address, Smith condemns the Republican Congress’ refusal to govern and inability to pass a budget that meets the needs and values of our country.  Video and audio of the Weekly Democratic Address can be downloaded here.

Below is a full transcript of the address:

“Hello, I’m Adam Smith.  I’m the Congressman who represents the 9th District of the state of Washington, and I’m pleased to have the opportunity to give the Democratic message for this week. 

“I know a lot of people paid close attention to the government shutdown that happened last week and are wondering what it was all about.  Why did it happen?  And there’s really a very simple explanation.  The Republicans who control the House, the Senate and the White House are refusing to govern on the critical issues that face our country.  And what they were trying to do last week – and ultimately did do – was pass yet another short-term, stop-gap spending bill.  That is not funding the government. 

“There are so many issues that are not being addressed by this Congress, and what Democrats were trying to do was basically to force the Republicans to do their job.  They won the election.  They control the House, they control the Senate, they control the White House.  It’s time to govern, but they’re not doing it.  They’re not passing a budget to begin with. 

“I’m the Ranking Member in the House Armed Services Committee, and I’ve been privileged to work with the men and women who serve in our military.  And we could not be better served, they make us proud every day.  But the Congress right now, the Republican-controlled Congress is not serving our military, because it’s not passing a defense budget.  A short-term spending bill is not a budget.  The leaders of the Pentagon do not know from one week to the next how much money they’re going to have to spend.  That makes it impossible to plan and impossible to put us in a position to adequately meet the national security needs of this country.

“And it’s not just the Defense Department, it’s the entire budget.  Our infrastructure.  We have a crumbling infrastructure in this country estimated to have a $600 billion backfill.  But again, the Republicans will not pass a transportation budget. 

“In a short-term spending bill, what they’ve passed now four times since the end of the fiscal year in September, is not a budget.  They’re not funding infrastructure, they’re not funding research, they’re not funding education.  We are stumbling forward one month at a time, and it goes beyond the budget. 

“We have had horrible hurricanes last year hit Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  They have not passed the disaster relief that these areas desperately need.  Again, simply kicking the can down the road. 

“And of course, DACA.  And we’ve heard a lot about it.  The young people who came into this country didn’t make the choice to come into this country.  The only country they’ve ever really known is the United States of America.  And our government, a couple years ago, gave them legal status in this country – about 800,000 young people.

“And then six months ago, President Trump simply took it away.  Now at the time, he said he hoped Congress would pass legislation to deal with this, but the Republican Congress again has refused to do it.  And again, that’s part of what was trying to be forced last week – to force them to give us a vote.  If a vote came up on DACA, on protection for these DREAMers – for these young people – it would pass overwhelmingly in the House and the Senate.  But the Republicans refuse to even give us a vote. 

“The only thing that the Republicans have done since they took over Congress and the White House last year, is pass a massive tax cut for the wealthiest among us and for corporations.  Two groups of people that have had more than enough benefits in the last couple of decades.  That tax cut even comes at the expense, in some cases, of middle class people. 

“What Democrats want is – we want an economy that builds from the middle out.  That working people in the middle class can benefit from.

“Now, you’ve seen all the signs that our economy is booming.  Unfortunately, about 90 to 95 percent of that benefit is going to about 5 or 10 percent of the country.

“We need to pass a budget to fix health care, to deal with disaster relief to deal with all of these issues if we’re going to actually take care of the middle class and the working people of this country – and that is what the Republicans have refused to do.

“Now regrettably we found out last week that even when Democrats said, ‘Look, we’re not going to vote for another short-term spending bill that continues to put us down this path of uncertainty, that doesn’t fund our priorities, that doesn’t pass the bills that we need to pass, that doesn’t govern our country the way it’s supposed to.’ 

“Even when faced with that, the Republicans said, ‘We don’t care.  We’re still not going to do it.  We’re not going to pass a budget, we’re not going to pass disaster relief, we’re not going to fix DACA, we’re not going to fix infrastructure, we’re not going to fix our health care plan.’ 

“So we hope that that will change.  This latest stop-gap goes to February 8th, we’ll see what happens then.

“But the problem we have in this country right now is the Republicans who control the House, the Senate and the White House, flat out refuse to govern.  They refuse to fix our health care system, they refuse to pass a budget, they refuse to take care of disaster relief.  It is time we hold them accountable.

“And we can’t do it alone in Congress.  So, I ask you, the American people to stand up and tell the Republicans to govern. 

“We don’t need more short-term spending bills, we need a budget and we need a Congress and a White House that actually governs and leads this country.”

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