Press Releases

Ranking Member Smith Reintroduces Legislation to End Harmful Effects of Sequestration

Washington D.C. – Yesterday, Congressman Adam Smith, Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, reintroduced the Relief from Sequestration Act, along with Reps. Conyers, Lujan Grisham, McGovern, DelBene and Jayapal. This legislation would end sequestration and the drastic, across-the-board cuts sequestration has inflicted on our economy.

March 28, 2017

For years, the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA) and its continued threat of sequestration have negatively impacted our economy, government, and harmed our nation.  The Relief from Sequestration Act of 2017 is designed to repeal the sequestration mechanism in its entirety.  This bill would end the threat of automatic, draconian cuts to important national priorities. 


It is apparent that the mechanism of sequestration is not effective or necessary to spur the creation of a comprehensive deficit reduction plan.  In fact, the author of the 1987 law that first employed the sequester as an enforcement mechanism never intended for the sequester to be triggered; rather that only the threat of it be used to spur action and compromise.  Clearly, it has failed in that regard. The Relief from Sequestration Act of 2017 would end years of harmful and unnecessary cuts to discretionary programs by eliminating the automatic across-the-board cuts that are triggered anytime a discretionary account goes beyond the BCA caps.

“This bill does not deny the fact that we need a comprehensive, long-term deficit reduction deal.  We absolutely do.  This bill recognizes that discretionary spending accounts, and the economy, should no longer be held hostage by the threat of sequestration while Congress debates the larger revenue and mandatory spending changes that are fundamentally necessary,” said Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA). “We have a deficit problem that must be addressed, but we should not damage our economy and undermine national security in the process.”

“We need a federal budget that will create jobs for struggling people, and will support stable growth in the economy that raises wages, helps ease the burden of putting food on the table, and ensures our nation doesn’t fall further behind countries that are investing in their future,” Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) said. “That is why I’m proud to join with my colleagues to put an end—once and for all—to the self-inflicted crises that the Sequester represents.”

“It’s time to end the practice of indiscriminate, across-the-board budget cuts, which are fiscally irresponsible and harmful to our country and the services we provide to American families, veterans and small-business owners,” said Rep. Lujan Grisham (D-NM). “Instead, we need to pass a budget that creates jobs and provides stability to New Mexico working families and businesses, while reducing the deficit in a balanced and responsible way.”

“Americans need Congress to make the strong investments in our economy that will keep it growing for years to come. Both Democrats and Republicans understand the need to work toward long-term deficit reduction, and a key part of that strategy is revenue generated by investing in creating good jobs and growing our economy,” Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) said. “Our bill will address this by finally ending sequestration and the devastating cuts that have held back our economy for too long.”

“Working families need certainty and stability to plan and invest for the future. It’s time to stop budgeting from one manufactured crisis to the next, and work on bipartisan policies that will set the country on the right course through strategic investments in education, research, clean energy, job-training and infrastructure,” said Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA). “That’s why I’m honored to join my colleagues in introducing legislation to stop the harmful and indiscriminate cuts from sequestration.”

“Sequestration is a kneejerk budgetary maneuver that has done little to reduce deficits and instead has done tremendous harm to the economy,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA). “We need to make responsible investments without leaving American priorities hanging in the balance. Getting rid of sequestration allows us to focus on what really matters: serving the people.”

Background

Sequestration was originally manufactured to force Congress to make difficult decisions about deficit reduction.  Unfortunately, Congress failed to find a solution to reduce our deficit and the devastating mechanism of sequestration took effect.  Under sequestration, automatic and indiscriminate cuts were applied through fiscal year 2021, decimating discretionary spending.  The sequester forestalled the sound planning needed for meaningful investments in national security, the workforce, transportation infrastructure, education, health care, public safety, housing, innovation, small business development, and many other facets of enduring national strength.  These cuts have also had unacceptable and serious economic implications, hindering the recovery, and disrupting regular order in Congress. The solution must be to permanently end this misguided and ineffective policy.

 

Smith Statement on Failed Republican Health Care Bill

Washington D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith released the following statement regarding the Republican’s decision to cancel the vote for their health care bill:

March 24, 2017

“Repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is a mistake and would throw away the meaningful progress we have made towards increasing the quality and accessibility of affordable health care. There is undoubtedly much work still to be done to improve our nation’s health care system but I strongly disagree with Republicans’ continued efforts to repeal the law, and their attempt to eliminate essential health benefits for Americans and their families.

“Republicans’ plans to repeal key benefits of the ACA in order to fulfill a flawed campaign promise would sacrifice the health and wellbeing of low-income, working, and older Americans, at the benefit of those who are wealthier.  Today’s failed attempt at a vote, fueled by deep discord within the Republican caucus, shows their disturbing disconnect with the needs of the American people and with the realities and responsibilities of governing.

“Health care policy is extraordinarily complex and difficult. It is never easy for the simple reason that demand for health care services is far more than the amount of money available to pay for it. Voting for the ACA was not an easy vote seven years ago.  However, at the end of the day, supporting expanded access to health insurance for over 22 million people and voting to get rid of barriers that kept health care out of the reach of many working Americans was important enough to take that difficult vote and make the situation better. The American people deserve health care that is affordable and accessible to everyone.

“Today laid bare that, for the last seven years, the Republicans have done little to develop a viable alternative to the ACA and have no clear plan to improve health care policy. They made up claims and misled Americans, all the while pretending they had the answer on health care. Today, by making their voices heard, the American people called Republicans’ bluff.

“I hope that we can now come together and begin to work to improve health care policy for all.”

 

Smith Statement on President Trump’s Flawed Budget Proposal

Washington D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith released the following statement regarding President Trump’s budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2018:

March 16, 2017

“President Trump has outlined a fiscal agenda that will overwhelmingly benefit the wealthy, and will likely set our country’s recent economic progress back decades. Rather than focus on expanding broad-based economic opportunities for every American to ensure their health and well-being, President Trump has proposed a budget outline that would result in the largest cuts to discretionary federal programs and agencies in decades.

“The economic vision presented today by the President ignores the budget realities that real Americans face. The President supports dramatic cuts to critical programs that help working American’s build a better life for their families, while erroneously stating we spend too much on international affairs. Cutting programs that protect our planet for future generations, in order to unnecessarily increase our nuclear weapons capability, shows how painfully disconnected this ‘skinny’ budget is from the needs of everyday Americans.

“National security encompasses much more than defense. Increasing the defense budget at the expense of nondefense spending is unacceptable. The three pillars of diplomacy, development, and defense are absolutely essential to protecting the American people and our interests at home and abroad. These requested cuts to our foreign affairs budget show a profound lack of understanding of our approach to international engagement that has protected America and our allies, and are based on an isolationist worldview. Gutting diplomacy and development, while relying solely on military power abroad, would be devastating to our national security. Development programs that have been funded on a bipartisan basis for years are critical to our country's national security interests.

“The President’s budget outline should reflect an interest in making government work better for everyone, not a desire to limit the government’s ability to improve the lives of working Americans.  In releasing today’s Budget Blueprint, the President has followed through with his reckless campaign promise to slash important government programs that give hard-working Americans the tools they need to provide for their families and build a strong America.”

Smith Statement on Republican Plan to Replace the Affordable Care Act

Washington D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith released the following statement in response to the Republican’s hastily introduced health bill:

March 14, 2017

“I am strongly opposed to the Republican plan to replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as ‘Obamacare.’ This legislation, known as the American Health Care Act (AHCA), introduced earlier this month, would take health insurance away from millions of people, hurt low-income and older Americans, and create considerable uncertainty about health care and insurance.

“I am very concerned about the potential impact of the AHCA. Despite promises made by House Republicans, individuals with pre-existing conditions and others who gained healthcare under the ACA will be at risk of the quality of their coverage being reduced or losing health insurance entirely. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that 14 million more people would be uninsured in just the first year of enactment of the AHCA but that 24 million in total are estimated to lose coverage over the next ten years. Insurance companies would be allowed to charge higher premiums for older Americans as well as those who lapse in coverage. It would cut $170 billion from the Medicare Trust Fund, putting at risk coverage for 57 million Americans. Additionally, the AHCA eliminates the ACA’s Medicaid expansion; which has extended coverage to over 59,000 constituents of the Ninth Congressional District of Washington. Many more individuals could also be negatively impacted if, as many fear, this legislation upends the broader health care and insurance marketplace; leading to higher costs and reduced access to care for all. The Republican plan benefits those who are young, healthy, or those who are wealthy at the sacrifice of those who are not.

“I supported the passage and enactment of the ACA in 2010. It is one of the most important steps taken in many years to reform health care and health insurance, as well as to address serious problems with our health care system. Prior to the enactment of the ACA, health care costs were rapidly increasing, government budgets were straining under health costs, and many patients, including those with pre-existing conditions, were unable to access affordable health coverage. We needed action on these tough issues. 

“Repealing the ACA would take us back to a time where millions of Americans were uninsured. The ACA is not perfect and we still have a long way to go to improve our health care system to increase access and bring costs down. I support addressing those provisions of the health care law that are burdensome to individuals and problematic for businesses.

“We should not, however, repeal the entire law or weaken its core tenets. We simply cannot revert to an old health care system that allows costs to increase unchecked, insures too few, and drains our economy while providing us too little in return.

“I will work to ensure that health care remains affordable and accessible to everyone. Eliminating the ACA would hurt the millions of Americans who depend on the many positive aspects of the law and could leave our health care system in a state of disarray and dysfunction. I will do everything in my power as a Member of Congress to protect our most vulnerable citizens and access to affordable and quality health care coverage.” 

Smith Statement on Nomination of Mr. David Friedman as U.S. Ambassador to Israel

Washington D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith released the following statement regarding the nomination of Mr. David Freidman to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Israel:

March 14, 2017

“I have been a strong supporter of the State of Israel and a comprehensive peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian territories for a long time.  I believe our partnership with Israel and its people is critical and in our national security interests.  I have been troubled by the lack of progress on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, from the unresolved and unhelpful settlements and lack of recognition of Israel's right to exist, to the violence that has taken innocent lives on both sides and has unfortunately set back the path towards peace.  For the Israelis and Palestinians to reach a lasting peace, we must have persistent, high-level U.S. engagement with both Israel and the Palestinians in order to build such peace and arrive at a two state solution.

“I also believe that both Israelis and Palestinians have the right to live in peace and security.  Since its creation in 1948, Israel has been under constant threat of attack. It is critical that we continue to support Israel’s qualitative military edge and ability to defend itself.  I am also sympathetic to the plight of Palestinians and believe that, in order for there to be long-term security and peace in the region; they too must have a state of their own. I know that the overwhelming majority of the people in Israel and Palestine want to live and raise their families in peace.  The only way to reach a two state solution is for Israel and the Palestinian people to directly negotiate and reach an agreement together. 

“It is for those reasons, that I am troubled by and oppose the nomination of Mr. David Friedman to serve as the next U.S. Ambassador to Israel.  Mr. Friedman’s experience as President Trump’s bankruptcy lawyer does not qualify him to lead diplomatic efforts to resolve one of the most complicated matters in the world.  Indeed, the last ten U.S. Ambassadors—in both Republican and Democratic Administrations—had prior United States Government experience.  Apart from having no experience in diplomacy, Mr. Friedman has made a pattern of deeply concerning comments which disparaged fellow Americans, equating some of them as Nazi sympathizers and questioning their support for Israel.  While reasonable people may disagree with tactics or strategy in reaching a two-state solution, Mr. Friedman’s verbal assaults demonstrate a blind spot in how to constructively engage with those one may disagree and calls into question his ability to conduct diplomacy.  Mr. Friedman’s nomination is further complicated by the fact that in his opening statement, he made no mention of the two-state solution.  Additionally, reports that Mr. Friedman intends to live and work in Jerusalem run the risk of unnecessarily inflaming an already difficult situation and demonstrates the lack of tact required to resolve complex issues.

“I believe the United States must remain committed to a two-state solution that leads to a secure Israel for the Jewish people and the creation of a Palestinian state for the Palestinian people.  While it is the Senate’s choice whether to confirm Mr. Friedman, I believe our nation would be better served if President Trump nominated a proven diplomat, fully committed to Israel’s security as a democratic and Jewish state and a two-state solution.”