Press Releases

Armed Services Ranking Member Smith: “We Are Not Looking at a ’10 out of 10’ Response to Hurricane Maria”

Washington, D.C. – Today, House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA) made the following statement about Hurricane Maria relief efforts:

October 24, 2017

“We are not looking at a ’10 out of 10’ response to Hurricane Maria. Eighty percent of Puerto Rico still doesn’t have electricity, thirty-five percent of people still don’t have water, and people have been forced to get water from Superfund sites. The Army Corps of Engineers has estimated that it needs about 2,000 additional workers to get the lights turned back on, yet there are only about 200 on the ground right now. President Trump finally sent the helicopters Congress asked for, two weeks late, but since then he seems more focused on spinning the media about his response than making sure American citizens are safe and managing a committed reconstruction effort.”

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Smith introduced  H.R.4087, the Protecting Airport Communities from Particle Emissions Act. Recent studies have indicated that ultrafine particles (UFPs) from a variety of sources could have detrimental impacts on human health. In recognition that communities located near airports could be more likely to be exposed to aviation-related particle pollution, Congressman Smith introduced this legislation to require a national study on ultrafine particles to help direct policy and solutions to improve the quality of life for local communities.

The full extent of health impacts resulting from UFPs has not been completely examined. Because of their structure and size, these particles can enter deep into the lungs and find their way into the blood stream. There are many sources that contribute to the rise of UFPs, including congested roadways, industrial emissions, as well as air travel. The health effects that can arise from UFPs include aggravation of heart and lung disease as well as asthma. These damaging health impacts can result in increased hospital admissions.

The act will ensure that affected localities across the country, including the communities surrounding Sea-Tac International Airport in Washington state, have access to information about the health risks of UFPs. It will direct the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator to compile existing data from previous research and then conduct an original study on UFP prevalence around the twenty largest airports in the country. This will lead to a better understanding of how nearby communities are exposed to UFPs and the adverse health impacts associated with them. In addition, the study will also evaluate whether biofuel use at airports could contribute to reduced UFP emissions.

The bill requires coordination between the FAA, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to study the rates of exposure to UFPs and adverse health impacts that communities of color, economically insecure residents, vulnerable individuals, and other disparately impacted groups experience. A report on the findings of the study is to be submitted to Congress within two years of enactment of the legislation.

This study parallels research on airport traffic and air quality currently being conducted at the University of Washington and builds upon the collaborative efforts Congressman Smith has been engaged in with local communities and the Port of Seattle.

Communities have the right to know how they are being impacted by ultrafine particulates in the atmosphere, what the sources of these pollutants are, and whether the use of alternative fuels could reduce those impacts.

“A comprehensive study of the ultrafine materials that jet fuel pollution emits is necessary to begin to develop practical and effective policies to protect impacted communities,” said Congressman Adam Smith. “The evidence from this national study will serve as the foundation for future work at the local, state and federal level to ensure a better quality of life for those experiencing the negative health impacts from airplane emissions.” 

“Studying ultrafine particles found in jet fuel pollution is critical to understanding the potential health impacts on airport communities and what can be done to mitigate negative effects,” said Representative Tina Orwall, D-Des Moines. “Washington state recently funded a study of Sea-Tac airport, one of the fastest growing airports in the nation. While I’m proud that we funded this local study being conducted by the University of Washington, I am very grateful for the leadership of Congressman Adam Smith in seeking to have our federal partners study this further.”


“The Port of Seattle is pleased to support Representative Smith’s effort to create a federal study on ultrafine particles and their relationship to airport-related activity,” said Port of Seattle Commissioner John Creighton. “Healthy communities depend upon healthy environments. There is a current lack of data and academic studies on ultrafine particulate emissions resulting from aviation activities, and so we welcome this legislation – as well as the study on this topic that the Port is supporting and co-funding at the state level – as an essential step toward deepening our understanding of this important topic.”

“My constituents are in need of accurate information regarding the presence of ultrafine particle pollution and the potential health risks such particulates pose to themselves and their families,”
said Senator Karen Keiser, D-Des Moines. “I thank Congressman Smith for his advocacy and partnership to ensure we have the information and resources we need to protect our communities adjacent to commercial airports.”

“I would like to thank Congressman Smith and all other government partners for listening to my constituents in Federal Way and Des Moines, and for his leadership in Congress on this important issue,” said Representative Mike Pellicciotti, D-Federal Way.

The Congressional Quiet Skies Caucus seeks to raise awareness of the impact of aircraft noise, hold the FAA accountable to the concerns of local communities, and find meaningful legislative and administrative solutions to reduce airplane impacts. As a member of the Quiet Skies Caucus, Congressman Smith has convened roundtable discussions with local elected officials, city officials, and Port of Seattle Commissioners to discuss possible solutions for airplane noise and emissions, including ultrafine particles. Air travel is an economic engine for the Puget Sound Region. Congressman Smith is committed to ensuring the Port of Seattle continues to create economic opportunities for local residents, and finding solutions that will diminish the adverse impacts of air travel and improve the quality of life for local communities.

The Protecting Airport Communities from Particle Emissions Act has been cosponsored by Representatives Jackie Speier (CA-14), Jamie Raskin (MD-08), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Anna Eshoo (CA-18), and Mike Quigley (IL-05).

 

Washington, D.C. – Today, House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA) made the following statement about the release of the Defense Department (DOD)’s new report on its excess infrastructure capacity.

This month, the Department of Defense submitted the infrastructure capacity report required by the FY2016 National Defense Authorization Act. The report (attached, with a letter from the Secretary of Defense) shows that, even using a baseline of DOD’s larger 2012 force structure instead of the current structure, the Department of Defense has 19% excess infrastructure capacity. That figure includes 29% excess capacity for the Army and 28% excess capacity for the Air Force. 

As Secretary of Defense James Mattis writes in his letter accompanying the report, “I must be able to eliminate excess infrastructure in order to shift resources to readiness and modernization.”

Ranking Member Smith’s statement is as follows:

“This report shows that the case for authorizing a new Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process is extremely strong, even if we plan to substantially increase the size of the military. Even with higher force levels than we have today, 19% of the Defense Department’s infrastructure capacity would be excess to its requirement, including 29% excess capacity for the Army and 28% for excess capacity for the Air Force. That’s a huge amount. We are wasting taxpayer money to maintain buildings and facilities that the military does not need, while we drain away funds for readiness and weaponry that could keep our service members safe and our country secure.”

Ranking Member Smith has long been a leading advocate for authorizing a new Base Realignment and Closure process. This year, he introduced the Military Infrastructure Consolidation and Efficiency Act of 2017 (H.R. 753), which would allow the Department of Defense to make targeted reductions to excess infrastructure capacity, while maintaining sufficient capacity to support contingencies and potential force structure growth in the future. The legislation would also make a number of reforms aimed at increasing congressional oversight, emphasizing savings, controlling cost-growth, strengthening the independent commission, and expediting the completion of the recommendations.

SecDef Letter to Congress BRAC Report

Infrastucture Capacity Report October 2017

te facilities; repeal mandatory detention; and restore due process, oversight, accountability and transparency to the immigration detention system.

“We must fix the injustices in our broken immigration detention system,” said Congressman Adam Smith. “As the Trump administration continues to push a misguided and dangerous immigration agenda, we need to ensure fair treatment and due process for immigrants and refugees faced with detention. This legislation will address some of the worst failings of our immigration policy, and restore integrity and humanity to immigration proceedings.”

“The high moral cost of our inhumane immigration detention system is reprehensible. Large, private corporations operating detention centers are profiting off the suffering of men, women and children. We need an overhaul,” said Congresswoman Jayapal. “It’s clear that the Trump administration is dismantling the few protections in place for detained immigrants even as he ramps up enforcement against parents and vulnerable populations. This bill addresses the most egregious problems with our immigration detention system. It’s Congress’ responsibility to step up and pass this bill.”

In addition to repealing mandatory detention, a policy that often results in arbitrary and indefinite detention, the legislation creates a meaningful inspection process at detention facilities to ensure they meet the government’s own standards. The bill requires the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to establish legally enforceable civil detention standards in line with those adopted by the American Bar Association. With disturbing track records of abuse and neglect,  DHS has a responsibility to ensure that facilities are held accountable for the humane treatment of those awaiting immigration proceedings.

Individuals held in our immigration detention system are subject to civil law, but are often held in conditions identical to prisons. In many cases, detained people are simply awaiting their day in court. To correct the persistent failures of due process, the legislation requires the government to show probable cause to detain people, and implements a special rule for primary caregivers and vulnerable populations, including pregnant women and people with serious medical and mental health issues.

“The immigrant detention and prison industrial complex breaks down the mental, emotional, and psychosocial development of our communities in various ways. I saw this firsthand when my family member was detained. I believe the Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act provides transformative provisions that we have been working toward, to move the immigrant rights movement forward,” said Yvette Maganya, a OneAmerica youth leader and the niece of a survivor of the Northwest Detention Center. “I’ve seen the toll detention conditions have in our community. Our communities are being jailed in inhumane conditions with no accountability. Often they are jailed not because of what they did, but to fulfill cruel, arbitrary quotas. It is wrong to jail immigrants indefinitely with no accountability or oversight. This is why we need the Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act.”

“We are grateful for the leadership of Representatives Smith and Jayapal in ensuring that the rights and dignity of all peoples are respected.  NWIRP supports the ‘Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act of 2017’ that they have introduced and see it as a critical step toward making our immigration detention system more humane and more consistent with fundamental American values,” said Jorge L. Barón of Northwest Immigrant Rights Project.

“The Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act is a crucial piece of legislation that introduces a wave of accountability that we desperately need. This officially puts the Federal government on notice that we will no longer tolerate the rampant disregard for human life,” said Victoria Mena of Colectiva Legal del Pueblo.

“Today, we’re facing an extremist expansion of our immigration detention system, which makes the Dignity for Detained Immigrants bill even more imperative. We have continually seen the ways in which conditions in the detention center and the traumatic experience of being detained deters people from fighting their cases. We stand in strong support of this important piece of legislation that sets a new, humane vision to reform our flawed immigration detention system,” said Roxana Norouzi of immigrant rights organization OneAmerica.

The Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act is cosponsored by 60 members of Congress: John Conyers Jr. (MI-13), John Lewis (GA-5), Louise Slaughter (NY-25), Jose Serrano (NY-15), Maxine Waters (CA-43), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.), Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), Luis V. Gutiérrez (IL-4), Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), Bobby Rush (IL-1), Nydia M. Velázquez (NY-7), Lloyd Doggett (TX-35), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), Elijah E. Cummings (MD-7), Earl Blumenauer (OR-3), Danny K. Davis (IL-7), James P. McGovern (MA-2), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Grace Napolitano (CA-32), Jan Schakowsky (IL-9), Betty McCollum (MN-4), Raúl Grijalva (AZ-3), Gwen Moore (WI-4), Steve Cohen (TN-9), Keith Ellison (MN-5), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson Jr. (GA-4), André Carson (IN-7), Chellie Pingree (ME-1), Jared Polis (CO-2), Mike Quigley (IL-5), Judy Chu (CA-27), Ted Deutch (FL-22), Bill Foster (IL-11), David N. Cicilline (RI-1), Suzan DelBene (WA-1), Donald M. Payne Jr. (NJ-10), Colleen Hanabusa (HI-1), Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Hakeem Jeffries (NY-8), Joseph P. Kennedy III (MA-4), Mark Pocan (WI-2), Mark Takano (CA-41), Marc Veasey (TX-33), Katherine Clark (MA-5), Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), Ruben Gallego (AZ-7), Brenda Lawrence (MI-14), Ted Lieu (CA-33), Kathleen M. Rice (NY-4), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Dwight Evans (PA-2), Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Jimmy Panetta (CA-20), Jamie Raskin (MD-8), Jimmy Gomez (CA-34).

The legislation is also supported by 52 civil society organizations: American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Asian Americans Advancing Justice - AAJC, Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence, Capital Area Immigrants' Rights Coalition, Center for Community Change, The Center for Victims of Torture, Church Council of Greater Seattle, Church World Service, Colectiva Legal del Pueblo, Columbia Legal Services, Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC), DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Democracy for America, Detention Watch Network, Entre Hermanos, FIRM, Grassroots Leadership, Human Rights First, Human Rights Watch, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, Immigration Equality Action Fund, Indivisible Vashon, Just Detention International, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, Make the Road CT, Make the Road New York, Make the Road NJ, MoveOn.org Civic Action, National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF), National Center for Transgender Equality, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, National Immigrant Justice Center, National Immigration Law Center, National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC), National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund, National Network to End Domestic Violence, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, OneAmerica, Our Revolution, Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC), Southern Poverty Law Center, Tacoma Migrant Justice, Tahirih Justice Center, United We Dream, Wallingford Indivisible, Washington Community Action Network, Washington Defender Association, The Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network, Women’s Refugee Commission, 21 Progress, Asian Counseling and Referral Service. 

U.S. Representatives Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Protect Transgender Servicemembers

Washington, DC — Today, Representatives Adam Smith (WA-09), Jackie Speier (CA-14), Charlie Dent (PA-15), Susan Davis (CA-53), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27), and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-09) announced the introduction of H.R. 4041, a bipartisan bill to protect transgender members of the U.S. military by preventing the Department of Defense (DoD) from removing currently serving members of the Armed Forces based solely on their gender identity. Transgender troops have been openly serving in the military since June 2016. This legislation is the House companion bill to S. 1820, introduced last month by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, John McCain, Jack Reed, and Susan Collins.

October 13, 2017

“I cannot begin to stress how utterly immoral it would be for brave men and women who are currently serving in the U.S. military to be kicked out, and lose their careers, purely because of discrimination,” said Congressman Adam Smith, Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee. “This bipartisan legislation would prevent that kind of mindless discriminatory purge, and it is an important step toward reversing President Trump’s ban on transgender military service. We will continue to fight so that all individuals who are willing and able can volunteer in defense of their country.”

“Kicking out members of the United States Armed Services solely based on their gender identity is hateful, discriminatory, and on the wrong side of history,” said Congresswoman Jackie Speier. “News flash, Mr. President—thousands of transgender troops already serve our country with pride and dignity. Our military should be focused on recruiting and retaining the best troops, not on rejecting qualified service members on the basis of discrimination.”

“I stood proudly with the previous administration when we lifted the ban on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’” said Congresswoman Susan Davis. “Many of the arguments against transgender servicemembers are the same we have heard for gay servicemembers, and the same we heard for women before that. Transgender servicemembers have and are serving with honor, distinction, and courage. No evidence has been presented to warrant a ban, which is based solely on discrimination. Our servicemembers should be focused on the singular objective of protecting Americans. This ban will only serve as a disruptive distraction of that effort.”

“Congress' intention with the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell was to allow our brave servicemembers to openly serve in our armed forces without fear of being discriminated against,” said Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. “The decision by the Administration to not allow transgender individuals to serve in the military is a sad reminder of the dark chapters in our nation's history that should never be repeated. The courts have usually been forced to adjudicate what constitutes discrimination but once again Congress is saying: no more. Any patriot, as long as they are qualified to serve, should have the ability to, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. These individuals are willing to sacrifice their lives for our freedom, a freedom that they should also be able to enjoy.’

“Any American willing to risk his or her life to protect and serve our country deserves our gratitude and support,” said Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema. “I’m proud to work with this bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers, including Arizona’s Senator John McCain, in standing with our military.”

  • Specifically, the legislation would:Express a sense of Congress that individuals who are qualified and can meet the standards to serve in the military should be eligible to serve;
  • Prohibit DoD from involuntarily separating, or denying the reenlistment or continuation in service in the Armed Forces of currently serving transgender service members solely on the basis of the servicemember’s gender identity; and
  • Require Secretary Mattis to complete his review of accession of transgender individuals into the Armed Forces by the end of this year and report the results to Congress.