Press Releases

Washington D.C.Congressman Adam Smith released the following statement on the inclusion of a provision in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Energy and Water Development, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Legislative Branch Appropriations Minibus conference report that would allocate $20,000 in funding for each Member’s office to pay interns:

“I am pleased that we are taking a meaningful first step toward providing paid internship opportunities in the United States House of Representatives. While long over-due, I applaud House Appropriators for recognizing the hardships that unpaid internships pose for many who seek to contribute and learn on Capitol Hill. 

“We must now build on and go further than the Minibus appropriations conference report’s allocation to each House office. This measure only allocates funds for the coming fiscal year, and the funding amount it provides will force offices to choose between paying interns on a less than full-time basis, paying them below the minimum wage in the District of Columbia, or offering a paid internship for only part of the year. Congress has a responsibility to provide equality of opportunity for all to intern on Capitol Hill – and that means funding a full-time, year-round internship position in each Member’s Capitol Hill or district congressional office at a livable wage.

“The House Intern Pay Act, which I introduced earlier this month, would authorize funding for a consistent, full-time internship program in each Member’s office at a rate of $15 per hour. I look forward to working with a growing group of my colleagues to bring the House Intern Pay Act to the floor for a vote to ensure that we provide a permanent and dedicated funding stream to pay interns so that all students have the ability to intern on Capitol Hill.”

 

Washington D.C.House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA) and House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee Ranking Member Jim Cooper (D-TN) sent a letter to the acting chairman of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB), warning against President Trump’s plan to impose extensive, abrupt cuts to nuclear safety staff and gut nuclear safety oversight.

The following are excerpts from the letter:

“We write to express our strong concern about your abrupt plans for major reforms …announced August 15, 2018, with limited notice and input, to reorganize the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, particularly the ill-advised plan to cut your agency’s headquarters staff level by one third. Hamstringing your agency and targeting your technical staff that represent the core and strength of your agency would likely jeopardize the mission and capability of the Board to fulfill its important mission of ensuring nuclear safety across the nuclear enterprise.

“We have seen problems in maintaining nuclear criticality safety experts at Los Alamos National Laboratory, and there have been several safety violations in recent years.  In addition, the DNFSB provides critical oversight and recommendations related to the Environmental Management Program that funds and manages nuclear clean-up activities at sites across the nuclear complex, including Hanford which continues to face safety culture and worker contamination challenges, as well as expensive and complex construction projects.  In addition, the 2014 incident, caused by rupture of a radioactive drum that had been incorrectly packaged at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, resulted in a significant contamination release at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad, New Mexico, and shut down repository operations for nearly three years. 

“Now is not the time to increase nuclear safety risk by making cuts to the experts whose primary mission is to provide independent nuclear safety oversight.  Coupled with changes in the Department of Energy’s recently proposed 140.1 order, your proposed change to cut DNFSB personnel would undermine the critical oversight on which an enduring, effective and safe nuclear enterprise depend.  

“We have yet to see any written analysis to explain the proposed cut to the Board’s staff by a third, and repeated requests by our committee staff for a detailed briefing on these proposed changes have gone unanswered. We strongly urge you and the Board to reconsider this change. In the meantime, we expect a more detailed explanation for this sweeping change that would have enduring implications and potential significant risk for ensuring nuclear safety.”

The full letter can be read HERE.

Washington, DC – Today, House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA) released the following statement in remembrance of the anniversary of September 11, 2001:

"Today, we pause to remember the sacrifice and heroism of those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001. They and their deeds will never be forgotten. We must continue to fight to uphold the freedoms and values that they held dear."

Washington, D.C. – Today, Rep. Adam Smith (WA-09) release the following statement in response to H.R. 6691, the Community Security and Safety Act of 2018:

“Today I opposed H.R. 6691, the Community Security and Safety Act of 2018. This regressive bill will subject even more people to harsher treatment through an already broken criminal justice system. I steadfastly oppose it.

“This legislation was introduced less than a week ago in response to the Supreme Court’s April ruling in Dimaya vs. Sessions, which found the legal definition of “crimes of violence” to be unconstitutionally vague. H.R. 6691 creates an overly-expansive new definition of a “crime of violence.” Under this bill, what were previously relatively minor non-violent offenses now could carry significantly increased penalties and potential jail time. This legislation further exacerbates the injustices of our judicial system and moves the justice reform effort backwards. 

“House Republicans did nothing for four months following the Court’s ruling and then, today, forced a vote on their hasty attempt to fix the deficiencies identified by the Court.  Experts, community members, and local law enforcement officials were not consulted and no hearings were permitted, despite the far-reaching ramifications of this issue.

“We need to overhaul our judicial system by using evidence-based, state-tested reforms. We should be simplifying unnecessary federal regulatory crimes that lead to over-prosecution of minor offenses. I support legislation that ends racial profiling, promotes accountability, provides legal help to those in need, ends the use of private prisons, and restores fairness to our system of justice. We must continue to find alternative punitive and restorative steps for those who have committed offenses to help end the epidemic of mass incarceration.

“Additionally, we should work to reduce the recidivism rate in part by providing assistance to inmates who are returning home. There is broad support for legislation that helps with reentry and to provide equal employment opportunities.  I support “banning the box” and prohibiting federal agencies and primary federal contractors from asking about criminal history on an initial employment application. We know that once community members leave prison, we must support education and rehabilitation efforts to ensure that people who will eventually return home from prison will do so equipped with the skills and knowledge necessary to reintegrate into society. 

“Bipartisan efforts and leadership at the federal level are essential to ensuring wider enactment of restorative justice programs, like those pioneered in Washington state. As we work towards common-sense reforms to our criminal justice system, I greatly value the continuing knowledge and opinions shared with me by constituents. I am committed to working with my colleagues to support protect civil liberties, increase transparency, and work to address bedrock issues that plague our criminal justice system.”

 

Armed Services Ranking Member Smith and Key Appropriators Oppose Trump Plan to Spend Military Readiness and Infrastructure Funds on Border Wall

Letter to Secretary Mattis Urges Him to Turn Down Unauthorized Request from the Homeland Security Department

September 6, 2018

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“It is utterly irresponsible and appalling that President Trump wants to take away funding for military readiness and infrastructure in order to spend it on his border wall,” said Smith. “We are trying to ensure that our men and women in uniform have the facilities and training they need to face serious dangers while defending our country. If Secretary Mattis follows through on this request, it would undermine those efforts. President Trump should not be taking away money from our troops and spending it on his wall.” 

“At a time when our country faces many serious national security threats around the world, it is simply outrageous to divert funds from the Pentagon to President Trump’s wasteful border wall,” Lowey said. “House Democrats stand united against this reckless proposal that endangers military readiness and undermines Congress’ Constitutional power of the purse.” 

“This is simply not the Department of Defense’s responsibility,” said Visclosky. “Military leaders who constantly testify and defend budget requests are well aware of the Congressional authorization and appropriation processes. We must continue to follow these established and Constitutional procedures to ensure that the Department of Defense is able to meet its stated objectives and support our brave men and women in uniform.”   

“President Trump’s willingness to sacrifice our military’s training and infrastructure to pay for an ineffective border wall is a shameful betrayal of the uniformed men and women who keep this nation safe,” said Wasserman Schultz. “No one who bravely serves our country should be asked to sacrifice our military readiness to pay for this boondoggle.”

The letter, which can be found at this link, reads as follows:

 

September 5, 2018

 

 

The Honorable James N. Mattis

Secretary of Defense

1000 Defense Pentagon

Washington, DC 20301-1000

 

Dear Secretary Mattis,

Last month the Department of Homeland Security transmitted a request to the Department of Defense to enhance existing border fencing and construct new border infrastructure along 31 miles of the Barry M. Goldwater Range in Arizona. With an estimated cost of $450 million, we write to express our strong opposition to the use of Department of Defense funds for this purpose and respectfully urge you to deny the Department of Homeland Security’s request.

In countless hearings and briefings this year we have heard from senior civilian and military leadership on the readiness challenges our military currently faces. We have heard about the Department of Defense’s plans to rebuild military readiness, to include investing in additional spare parts and maintenance, increasing training opportunities, growing certain military occupational specialties, and modernizing aging weapon systems. We have also heard the repeated calls from the Department for stable and predictable funding. With that in mind, we fail to see how diverting $450 million away from efforts to rebuild military readiness is in the Department or the taxpayers’ best interests.

We are also aware of the risk the Department of Defense has taken in new military construction and the significant backlog in sustainment, restoration, and modernization of facilities that support military readiness and quality of life for military personnel and their families. Department of Defense officials testified that the facilities maintenance backlog across the Department amounted to $116 billion and that 31% of the department’s facilities were in poor or failing condition. Funding the requested border infrastructure project may divert resources away from authorized and appropriated military construction projects, deferring critical investments to meet new mission requirements or replacing failing infrastructure. 

In addition to concerns with the prioritization of these funds, we also have questions about what statutory authority would be used to fund this project. We note that military construction projects that exceed the minor construction threshold require line-item authorization and appropriation by Congress. Congress has not provided an authorization or appropriation for a border infrastructure military construction project and we do not believe the scope or justification for the project warrants the use of emergency construction authorities or consideration outside of the annual authorization and appropriations process. 

While reform to our immigration system is needed, we do not believe it is a prudent use of taxpayer funds to have the Department of Defense spend approximately $450 million on 31 miles of border infrastructure.  Instead, the Department of Defense should focus its time and resources on infrastructure needs that address the military readiness shortfalls that have been repeatedly highlighted by civilian and military leadership.

We appreciate your consideration of our concerns and look forward to hearing from you on this important topic.

Sincerely.

 

 

Adam Smith                                                                Nita M. Lowey

Ranking Member                                                        Ranking Member

House Armed Services Committee                            House Appropriations Committee

 

 

 

 

 

Peter J. Visclosky                                                        Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Ranking Member                                                        Ranking Member

House Appropriations Committee                              House Appropriations Committee

Subcommittee on Defense                                          Subcommittee on Military Construction,

 

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