Press Releases

Congressman Smith Reintroduces Rural Economic Vitalization Act

Today, Congressman Adam Smith reintroduced the Rural Economic Vitalization Act (REVA), legislation that improves our wasteful, environmentally harmful, and economically inefficient federal grazing policy. This bill would update federal law to allow ranchers with grazing permits to voluntarily retire their permits to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service. Farmers would receive market value compensation for their permits, paid for by private parties, and the BLM and U.S. Forest Service would be allowed to permanently retire these grazing permits.

July 28, 2017

“We need to provide for more environmentally responsible and economically sound management of our public lands,” said Congressman Adam Smith. “As we look for sustainable solutions to our fiscal challenges, the Rural Economic Vitalization Act provides a mechanism to restore our public lands while providing economic opportunities. This legislation will benefit the American taxpayer while simultaneously protecting our environment.”

“First, I would like to thank Representative Smith for his leadership on this important issue.” said Rep. Raul Grijalva, who joined Congressman Smith in introducing the legislation. “The federal grazing program is in need of serious reform - the scale of taxpayer money that goes into subsidizing the industry, not to mention the negative impact on the environment, is often overlooked. By making it easier to voluntary retire permits, the Rural Economic Vitalization Act offers a solution that will reduce the impacts of grazing on public lands and complement federal conservation efforts throughout the Western United States, while giving ranchers new financial options. This commonsense bill is a win-win."

Background: Existing law does not allow for the retirement of grazing permits.  This outdated policy has negative impacts on wildlife, watersheds, and the surrounding ecosystem, which continue to be harmed by domestic livestock grazing.  In addition to the environmental issues that intensify the impacts of climate change, the federal grazing program is heavily subsidized and costs American taxpayers over $109.4 million a year. The Government Accountability Office reports that in Fiscal Year 2016, the BLM and U.S. Forest Service spent $135.9 million on grazing management, but only reported collecting $26.5 million in grazing fees.   

Smith Statement Opposing Security Minibus

Washington D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith released the following statement in opposition to H.R. 3219, the Department of Defense Appropriations Act:

July 27, 2017

“The “Security Minibus” appropriations bill the House is currently debating is completely disconnected from the realities that our country faces and the spending choices we must make. This spending package includes funding for the Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, Legislative Branch, Department of Energy, the Army Corps of Engineers, agencies of the Department of Interior, and several independent agencies.

“I am strongly opposed to this legislation because of the level of defense spending it mandates. We cannot continue to increase defense spending at the expense of critical domestic funding priorities such as transportation infrastructure, protecting the environment, ensuring access to education, and providing affordable health care. Additionally, the minibus would require $1.6 billion in wasteful funding for an unnecessary border wall for which the President promised American taxpayers wouldn’t pay, and eviscerates vital funding for clean energy and advanced energy research. The bill does not reflect the priorities of the American people and fails to acknowledge the finite resources that we have at our disposal.  

“As Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, I recently voted in support of the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). I did so because I support the policies contained in the NDAA, but I have and continue to raise serious concerns with the unsustainable budgeting that has become the norm for defense spending. In contrast to the NDAA, which authorizes the critical programs for our men and women in uniform, today’s bill spends an untenable level of funding for the Department of Defense. This legislation would trigger sequestration cuts that would make our budget challenges infinitely more difficult to solve. We need to make hard decisions about our fiscal future and invest in building an economy that works for all Americans.” 

Smith, Bordallo Call for Temporary Suspension of the 1033 Program’s Controlled Property Transfers

Washington, D.C. – Today, House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA) and Readiness Subcommittee Ranking Member Madeleine Bordallo (D-GU) made the following statements about the Department of Defense’s 1033 program that provides excess military equipment to civilian law enforcement agencies:

July 27, 2017

“The Defense Department should not be providing military equipment to civilian law enforcement agencies until we can be sure the program is capable of preventing dangerous items from falling into the wrong hands. The transfer of ‘controlled property’ under the 1033 program should be suspended until DLA fully implements the control measures that GAO has recommended, and makes its own planned changes to improve the oversight, management, and control of the program,” said Congressman Smith. “DLA annually transfers hundreds of millions of dollars worth of taxpayer-funded excess military equipment to federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, the overwhelming majority of which are departments of 50 or fewer people. As evidenced during the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, a few years ago, the transfer of potentially lethal ‘controlled’ military equipment can become controversial when the equipment is used inappropriately.

“It is absolutely essential that DLA maintain accountability for this equipment. DLA must address the internal control weaknesses identified by GAO and must ensure compliance with 1033 program guidelines, especially validation of the identification of individuals who accept the transferred ‘controlled property’ in the name of the receiving law enforcement agency. We should not allow the 1033 program to continue to transfer ‘controlled property’ until we know it has fully addressed the identified issues. Our committee will continue its close oversight of this program and appreciates the work GAO fulfilled at the committee’s request.”

“When properly managed, the 1033 Program is a critical resource for budget-constrained law enforcement agencies, especially for procuring ‘non-controlled’ equipment,” said Congresswoman Bordallo. “However the revelations contained in the GAO report are deeply concerning and it is clear that proper safeguards are not currently in place for ‘controlled’ equipment. The report highlights the negligence with which DLA treated property procured with taxpayer dollars and demonstrates a lack of accountability, and a dangerous vulnerability, that could have compromised the safety of the American people. While the DLA has taken steps to address the recommendations made by GAO, the point nonetheless remains that the job is unfinished. Until we can fully ensure oversight and accountability, and verify that the necessary controls are in place, we should temporarily suspend any transfers of ‘controlled’ equipment under this program. The American people must be confident that this program will not be misused and their safety is paramount for this program moving forward.”

On July 18, 2017, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report detailing its findings from an investigation into the DLA’s internal controls over the 1033 program. In the course of the investigation, GAO employed a sting operation that involved the creation of a fake law enforcement organization to purchase excess military equipment from DLA. The organization succeeded in acquiring a number of controlled items. You can read the report here: (https://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-17-532)

The House Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Readiness held a hearing on the findings on Thursday, July 27, 2017. You can watch the hearing here: (https://youtu.be/Kj0fOWcQorE)

Smith Statement on Transgender Military Service

Washington, D.C. – Today, Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA) released the following statement about President Trump’s announcement that he will not allow transgender people to serve in the military:

July 26, 2017

“This announcement is an unwarranted and disgraceful attack on men and women who have been bravely serving their country. These service members are defending the United States around the world as we speak, and they have long done so with distinction. To prevent transgender people from joining the military and to push out those who have devoted their lives to this country would be ugly and discriminatory in the extreme.

“Secretary of Defense Mattis is currently engaged in a six-month review of policies to bring in new transgender recruits, and he has determined that transgender people who are currently serving should continue to serve.

“On January 31, President Trump said that he ‘is determined to protect the rights of all Americans, including the L.G.B.T.Q. community. President Trump continues to be respectful and supportive of LGBTQ rights, just as he was throughout the election.’ What has changed since then? The inflated cost estimates that President Trump appears to be alluding to have no basis in fact, and appear to be cooked up by right-wing advocacy organizations whose real interest is not to support military readiness but to further discrimination. The cost of all hormone therapy for transgender individuals serving in the military since 2012 has been a grand total of $297,000, and there is no indication that the thousands of transgender people currently serving in the military have negatively impacted readiness.

“It takes a brave and committed person to volunteer to defend this country, and every American that is able and willing to do so should be allowed to join the U.S. military. We will fight this decision, just like we fought ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ and ultimately justice will prevail.”

Smith Statement in Support of Bipartisan Sanctions Legislation

Washington D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith released the following statement following his vote in support of H.R. 3364, the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act:

July 25, 2017

“Russian attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election in the United States were flagrant and unacceptable. Their meddling has not been confined simply to our borders –  as they carried out aggressive campaigns to disrupt the elections of our European partners. These actions must stop.

“In response, I joined a bipartisan majority of my colleagues today in voting in favor of comprehensive legislation that codifies existing sanctions put in place under the Obama Administration and enacts new sanctions against individuals and entities involved in these activities, and brings renewed pressure to the governments of North Korea and Iran. This package makes clear that cyber-attacks, provocative missile tests, and other destabilizing work by these governments runs contrary to global peace and security. It is incumbent upon our nation to lead the international community in confronting these actions.

“Today’s vote is a meaningful step in preventing Vladimir Putin from conducting future influence campaigns around the world and ensuring accountability for the Russian Federation’s destabilizing actions in Ukraine including the attempted annexation of Crimea and fomenting conflict in eastern Ukraine. This bill also holds President Trump accountable in any potential roll-back of existing sanctions. It also holds that North Korea’s continued violations of U.N. resolutions and threats to disrupt the Indo-Asia-Pacific region cannot be allowed to continue. Following the July 4, 2017 North Korean missile test, on top of continued Iranian ballistic missile tests, the United States must make clear that further development of long-range weapons systems that threaten the United States and its allies is unacceptable.

“Also included in the bill were critically needed initiatives, such as a pilot program to facilitate the processing of remittances by local credit unions and banks here in the United States to Somalia. The ability of Somali Americans to send money to their loved ones is an issue of life or death for families in Somalia, and we must explore creative solutions that allow for the continued flow of remittances to Somalia. The worsening humanitarian crisis in this fragile country will be made far worse if we do not take action.

“In recognition of the important provisions of this legislation, I encourage swift enactment of this package of sanctions for President Trump to sign into law.”