Press Releases

Washington, D.C. – This week, Congressman Smith voted to pass H.R. 987, the Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act.

“I am proud to have voted in favor of the Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act on the House floor this week. Too many Americans find quality, affordable health care out of reach, and continue to suffer from the high price of prescription drugs and medicine they need. This legislation takes important steps to reduce the barriers for lower-priced generic prescription drugs get to market earlier. Furthermore, this bill invests in efforts to expand access to health insurance and rescinds the President’s Junk Plan rule that undermines protections for pre-existing conditions and allows inadequate health insurance plans. House Democrats are committed to improving health care for the American people, and this legislation was an important step in fulfilling that promise.”

Letter Part of Broader Oversight Effort Regarding Politicization of Intelligence Regarding Foreign Threats, and Specifically Iran

Washington, D.C. – Today, Reps. Adam Smith (D-WA), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Eliot Engel (D-NY), the Chairs of the House Armed Services, Intelligence, and Foreign Affairs Committees respectively, sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo raising serious concerns over the abuse of classification and politicization of intelligence regarding Iran and other countries in the State Department’s 2019 Report on Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments.

On April 15, the State Department issued its annual report assessing the U.S. and other nations’ adherence to a range of arms control and nonproliferation treaties.  As required by law, the Department prepared this intelligence-informed report with the “concurrence” of the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.  This year’s report disproportionately focused on Iran to the exclusion of other countries with serious proliferation concerns, including Russia and North Korea.

News organizations have since reported deep concerns of intelligence officers and State Department officials that the report “politicizes and slants assessments about Iran.”  Moreover, State Department officials who released the report moved fully unclassified sections of the report to the classified annex, leaving an unclassified product that emphasized non-factual information regarding Iranian compliance.

In the letter, the Members raise concerns that the report provides significantly less unclassified information, that the Administration selectively ignores facts or injects non-factual information, and that the administration has failed to file a key report to congress about Iranian compliance with the nuclear deal.  As part of the letter, the Members request an immediate briefing and documents related to the preparation of the report be provided to the Committees. 

The Chairs also announced that the Armed Services, Intelligence, and Foreign Affairs Committees will be conducting rigorous oversight over allegations of politicization of intelligence regarding Iran.

In the letter, the Members write:

“We are deeply concerned by recent reporting that the 2019 State Department Report on Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments, which the State Department submitted to Congress on April 15, may have been the product of political appointees disregarding intelligence or distorting its meaning in order to potentially “lay the groundwork to justify military action” against countries mentioned in the report. … 

Our nation knows all too well the perils of ignoring and ‘cherry-picking’ intelligence in foreign policy and national security decisions, as evidenced by a prior White House’s disregard of the intelligence community’s analysis on Iraq and its selective use of Iraq-related intelligence to justify the march to war in 2003.”

The full letter is below:

May 16, 2019

 

The Honorable Mike Pompeo

Secretary

Department of State

2201 C Street, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20520

Dear Secretary Pompeo:

            We are deeply concerned by recent reporting that the 2019 State Department Report on Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments, which the State Department submitted to Congress on April 15, may have been the product of political appointees disregarding intelligence or distorting its meaning in order to potentially “lay the groundwork to justify military action” against countries mentioned in the report.[1]  These allegations underscore our concern that the Department has failed to meet its statutory obligations in the April 15 report to Congress.

It is further reported that that attempts to politicize the U.S. Intelligence Community’s normally objective assessments of Iran and others’ adherence to international obligations led to intense disagreements within the Department and the interagency.[2]  Our nation knows all too well the perils of ignoring and ‘cherry-picking’ intelligence in foreign policy and national security decisions, as evidenced by a prior White House’s disregard of the intelligence community’s analysis on Iraq and its selective use of Iraq-related intelligence to justify the march to war in 2003. 

The Unclassified Compliance Report Does Not Comply With the Law:

By law, the Department is required to submit to Congress a “detailed report . . . to the maximum extent practicable in unclassified form,” regarding compliance by the United States and other countries with “arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament” agreements.[3]  The unclassified 2018 Report was 45 pages long.  The unclassified 2017 report was 54 pages long.  This year, the unclassified Report totals 12 pages,[4] and contains no meaningful discussion of either the United States or Russia,[5] which have the world’s largest nuclear arsenals.  We are unaware of any vast improvement in arms control compliance that would justify a report that is 75%-80% shorter than it has been in recent years.  Furthermore, we are perplexed by the Department’s decision to bury unclassified content—previously discussed in the unclassified report in earlier years—in the classified annex, apparently to shield it from public view.[6]  The Department’s unclassified report does not fulfill in good faith the requirements of 22 U.S.C. § 2593a(a). 

Selective Inclusion of Unclassified Information Raises Questions About Politicized Intelligence

Congress has mandated that the Compliance Report be a factual, apolitical document, but this year’s unclassified report consists largely of hypotheticals or opinion. Given that this report addresses the gravest of issues—nuclear programs of countries like Russia, North Korea, and Iran—it is critical that it contain strictly factual information based on the best analysis of our intelligence community.  Unfortunately, in several crucial places, this is absent.  Worse, the failure to report accurately and in detail on these countries is compounded by the fact that the Trump Administration has not submitted reporting about the Iranian nuclear program under Section 135 of the International Atomic Energy Act, as mandated by the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act.[7]  Without clear, factual, and up-to-date information about the Iranian nuclear program, the executive branch is denying information to Congress needed to keep the American people safe.

More shockingly, the 2019 Report makes no substantive mention of Russia, whose arms programs the United States itself has said violate international agreements such as the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.  With Russian missile deployments violative of the INF Treaty dotting NATO’s Eastern Flank, these omissions are glaring and represent a failure to report adequately under the statute.

It is not possible for Congress to be properly informed—or for the United States to have a sound foreign policy in a dangerous world—when an Administration submits a mandated report to Congress that selectively ignores facts or injects non-factual information about certain threats to our country. 

Request for Briefing and Records

In light of the above, and in addition to the request we plan to make to the Intelligence Community, the Committees hereby request that the Department provide the following no later than May 23, 2019:

  1. A briefing from the State Department on the process led by the Bureau of Arms Control, Verification, and Compliance for compiling information, drafting, and coordinating the Compliance Report for approval.  This briefing should include:
  • a description of the offices and agencies involved, as well as their responsibilities for the Compliance Report process, and the role of political appointees in finalizing the report;
  • information on how the Compliance Report bureaucratic process this year differed from past years, including for the Compliance Report submitted to Congress in 2018;
  • the nature of feedback received from interagency officials regarding the coordination of the Compliance Report this year compared to years past;
  • a description of and explanation for changes in the structure of the report this year from years past;
  • a description of how the Department decided to minimize, in its unclassified Report, the missile proliferation threats of Russia and North Korea, vis a vis other serious missile proliferators, including Iran;
  • a discussion of any changes in compliance determinations in this year’s report as compared to prior years, as well as the basis for such determinations.
  1. Documents, to be provided no later than May 23, 2019 sufficient to demonstrate the factual bases for assertions and explanations provided in this briefing.

Thank you for your cooperation in this matter. Please feel free to contact the House Foreign Affairs Committee at 202-225-5021 for further information.  We look forward to receiving the requested information.

 

###

 



[2] Id.

[3] See 22 U.S.C. §2593a. 

[4] The Department has noted that a “longer unclassified version of this report will be submitted following full declassification review of the lengthy classified annex.”  See Letter from Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs Mary Elizabeth Taylor, dated April 15, 2019. PDF attachment to email from Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs Charles Faulkner, April 15, 2019, 6:57 PM.  There is no legal basis for submitting multiple versions, of varying lengths, of the unclassified report.

[5] Russia was discussed extensively in recent years’ unclassified reports.  See, e.g., 2017 Compliance Report, pp. 11-20, 36-40, 44-48; 2018 Compliance Report, pp. 10-18; 31-39. 

[6] The classified Annex contains dozens of paragraphs that have already been portion-marked as “(U),” indicating that their content is fully unclassified; many of those wholly unclassified paragraphs are similar to sections included in prior years’ unclassified reports.  This further supports our conclusion that the Department has not complied with the statutory mandate.  We are also concerned that, in hiding unclassified information from the public in this fashion, the Department has violated Executive Order 13,526, which prohibits using classification to “delay the release of information that does not require protection in the interest of the national security.”

[7] This reporting requirement is contained in a freestanding statute and is not contingent upon U.S. participation in the JCPOA.  Rather, the plain language of the statute shows that the obligation, which came into effect 180 days after the United States entered into the JCPOA, is an ongoing one.  Congress has given the Administration ample opportunity to weigh in on these issues, and yet, the Administration is overdue on at least two reports. 

Bill would prevent Executive overreach to redirect funds for the border wall and other projects

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, a group of House Armed Services Committee Democrats led by Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), HASC Chair Adam Smith (D-Wash.), and HASC Readiness Subcommittee Chair John Garamendi (D-Calif.) introduced a bill that will limit the Department of Defense’s authority to repurpose funds that were designated for military construction.

The bill would cap national emergency military construction authority at $250 million per emergency and tighten the ability to waive other provisions of law in carrying out the projects. The bill would only allow money that cannot be spent for its intended purpose to be used for an emergency, would require additional information in a congressional notification, and delay the start of construction until after a waiting period following the notification going to Congress.

The bill’s original cosponsors also include Reps. Salud Carbajal (D-Calif.), Gil Cisneros (D-Calif.), Veronica Escobar (D-Texas), Xochitl Torres Small (D-N.M.), Lori Trahan (D-Mass.), and Filemon Vela (D-Texas).

“The Administration’s willful abuse of power to unilaterally enact misguided policy like building a wall on the southern border is Exhibit A in this administration’s overreach,” said Rep. Ruben Gallego. “By stealing money from troop recruitment accounts, counter narcotics efforts, and critical infrastructure, the Trump Administration is making our country less safe. This bill will ensure that the armed services will no longer be a bottomless piggy bank for the President’s worst political impulses, and will instead stay a ready, prepared, and highly professional force focused on the external defense of the nation rather than on doing the Department of Homeland Security’s job.”

“I’ve said it before, in no uncertain terms, the Trump Administration’s repeated efforts to divert previously appropriated funds from the Department of Defense to finance his misguided border wall is an affront to military readiness,” said House Armed Services Committee Chair Adam Smith. “While Congress has for years granted the Department the flexibility to carry out military construction projects that support troops responding to a national emergency, such as after the attacks of September 11, 2001, the President’s threat to use military construction funding to build portions of the border wall would be an inappropriate use of that authority. The legislation introduced today will ensure the use of this emergency military construction authority is transparent, within a reasonable cost range, and most importantly, will only draw from sources of funding that do not hamper existing construction projects or military readiness. In short, this bill will provide the American people an understanding of how their tax dollars are being used in times of national emergency while safeguarding military readiness.”

“The President is ignoring the will of Congress and attempting to steal funds from crucial military construction (MILCON) projects to pay for his wall. Article I, Section 1 of the Constitution makes it clear that Congress has the power of the purse,” said House Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee Chair John Garamendi. “Congress debated the issue of border security for a year-and-a-half and decided to spend $1.2 billion on more effective border security technologies than the President’s vanity wall. This crucial legislation will provide a vital check on the executive branch and prohibit the President from using the MILCON budget and other critical projects as a personal slush fund to fulfill a campaign promise. As Chairman of the Readiness Subcommittee within the House Armed Services Committee, I oversee the MILCON and readiness accounts and understand how dependent our nation’s military installations are on the timely delivery of MILCON funds. I am proud to join Chairman Smith and Representative Gallego in sponsoring this critical bill.”

 

Washington D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA) and Congressman Rob Woodall (R-GA), along with Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ), reintroduced the bipartisan Adoptee Citizenship Act to guarantee automatic U.S. citizenship to international adoptees. 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 bipartisan Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2019 to help achieve the vision of the original Child Citizenship Act of 2000, which sought to ensure that adopted children and biological children are treated equally under U.S. law. By closing an existing loophole in the Child Citizenship Act, this bill will extend citizenship to thousands of foreign-born adoptive children who have joined their families here in the United States," said Congressman Adam Smith. "Unfortunately, not all adoptees were able to benefit from the Child Citizenship Act when it originally passed, as it was limited to apply only to minors age 18 and under. Adopted individuals should not be treated as second class citizens just because they happened to be the wrong age when the Child Citizenship Act became law.”

“It is estimated that between 25,000 and 49,000 children adopted to the U.S. between 1945 and 1998 lack U.S. citizenship. Most of them did not become aware of their lack of citizenship until well into their adulthood,” said Congressman Rob Woodall. “The Korean American community is home to tens of thousands of adoptees that lack eligibility for U.S. citizenship despite their legal entry and life-long residency here. Our legislation will provide a solution to close this loophole and grant the adoptees the right to citizenship they deserve.”

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 automatic citizenship, regardless of their age at the time the CCA was passed.

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 never lived and have no known family or friends.

In addition to the broad, bipartisan congressional support for the Adoptee Citizenship Act, the bill has garnered widespread praise among the leading adoption advocacy organizations and Korean American civic and community organizations. 

“Tens of thousands international adoptee children of American parents have lived their entire lives without the their U.S. citizenship they should have for too long, due to an oversight in a the law that was intended to help them,” said Daniel Sakaguchi, President, National Asian Pacific American Bar Association. “Congress now has a chance to fix the that law and change lives. We thank Congressman Adam Smith and Congressman Rob Woodall for their leadership and commitment to these adoptees. We urge all Member of Congress to support the Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2019.”

“We appreciate Congressman Smith's continued compassion and bold leadership on shedding a light on this critical issue and providing a sensible solution to the crisis tens of thousands of intercountry adoptees face. The bipartisan support for this issue over the years is a testament to its humanitarian nature. Due to a bureaucratic loophole, tens of thousands of intercountry adoptees who were promised a home here in the United States decades ago have been left hanging. The Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2019 brings us closer to finally fulfilling the promise. The Korean American community is home to the greatest number of impacted adoptees, and KAGC along with its partner organizations is committed to shedding a light on this critical, yet overlooked issue,” said Wonseok Song, Executive Director, Korean American Grassroots Conference.

“Adoptees who join American families as children grow up with American values and contribute to our nation’s communities in every way. Passing the Adoptee Citizenship Act will provide the benefits and protections that many adoptees did not receive during their adoption process. Citizenship is critical for economic stability, family preservation, and social legitimacy. Finally, equal citizenship rights will strengthen our national values by empowering adoptees to participate in American democracy. We thank Representative Adam Smith and Representative Robert Woodall for their bipartisan leadership and urge all Members of Congress to support the Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2019.” – Adoptee Rights Campaign

“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 2019 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.”

“The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute is so grateful to Representatives Smith and Woodall for introducing this long awaited legislative fix, to fully enshrine in U.S. law the legal precedent of treating children who are adopted as equal to biological children. This bill will help remove an impossible barrier for 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 Bethany Haley, Interim Executive Director, Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute. "The adoption community is grateful for congressional champions whose initiative and leadership will solve this problem once and for all for adopted children of U.S. citizens."

“Many believe that adoptive children of U.S. citizen parents inherited the same rights as their biological children.  Unfortunately, this is not true and thousands of inter-country adoptees did not receive U.S. citizenship when they were children and now as adults face legal and immigration challenges.  To right this wrong, the Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2019 will grant automatic citizenship to all qualifying intercountry adoptees adopted by U.S. citizen parents.”  - Kristopher Larsen, constituent and Co-Director, Adoptees For Justice

WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA) today issued the following statement in response to the Trump Administration’s recent decision to deploy the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force to the Persian Gulf.

“The Administration’s recent actions in the Middle East, specifically as they pertain to Iran, are deeply troubling.  The recent decision to first deploy the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group, and now B-52s, to the Persian Gulf is the latest in a string of actions that could unintentionally escalate tensions between the United States and Iran. 

“Given the sensitivity of this issue, the Congress must be briefed immediately.  Until then, I urge the Administration to proceed with caution and look at options that include diplomacy with a path forward to de-escalation.”