Press Releases

Ranking Member Smith Statement on Iran Elections

Washington D.C. – Ranking Member Smith released the following statement in response to the recent elections in Iran:

March 3, 2016

“Iran just conducted its first elections since agreeing to the multilateral deal to give up its nuclear weapons program.  While it is true that the Islamic Republic of Iran determines who may run for election, it is also true that the Iranian people turned out in large numbers to support candidates who backed the nuclear deal and want improved relations with the rest of the world.

“To be clear, we have very serious differences with the Iranian regime. The conduct of the recent elections is deeply concerning due to the lack of transparency, censorship concerns, and limited freedom of expression and assembly. Furthermore, Iran's active state sponsorship of terror continues to threaten Israel and to destabilize the region. Moving forward Iran must cease all support to terrorist groups.

“The path forward with Iran will see challenging and uncertain times.  That said, we must not ignore the positive voices in Iran.  These elections do not reflect a revolutionary change in the regime, but they do show that millions of Iranians support progress and that many of them want a brighter, more constructive future for their country. Iran’s leaders must give their people the freedom they so clearly desire. 

“Despite our many disagreements with the Iranian regime, the elections show that our disputes do not, by definition, extend to the Iranian people. I hope that the Iranian government will see the strong desire for reform, be responsive to the will of the Iranian people, and formulate policies that create a better future for Iranians, the region, and the world.” 

Ranking Member Smith Statement on President’s Plan to Close Guantanamo

Washington D.C. – Ranking Member Smith released the following statement on the President’s plan to close the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility:

February 23, 2016

“Today, the President announced his plan to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. I have long called for an exit strategy from our use of Guantanamo for detention purposes, and I am encouraged by the President’s plan to responsibly close the facility. I look forward to reviewing the full details of the plan as they become available.

“The President has provided a practicable plan for closing the facility. Congress must now work with the Administration in good faith to effectuate closure. We must start by lifting the current bans on transferring detainees into the United States and on constructing or modifying facilities within the United States to house Guantanamo detainees, bans that have too long served as barriers to closing the detention center.

“The establishment of a detention facility at Guantanamo was misguided from the beginning, and its operation stands in stark contrast to our nation’s values. Today, Guantanamo continues to be an international eyesore that undercuts our national security, damages our credibility with our international partners, and is a colossal waste of taxpayer dollars. The President’s plan offers a responsible way forward that would address security concerns,  pursue criminal prosecutions, and produce net savings on the order of $335 million over ten years and $1.7 billion over twenty years.  It is far past time to end this chapter in our country’s history and to close this facility.”

 

WASHINGTON—Reps. Keith Ellison (D-MN), Juan Vargas (D-CA), and Adam Smith (D-WA), released the following statement today after sending a letter to President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud of Somalia congratulating him on signing a new Anti-Money Laundering and Combatting Terror Financing Bill into law. Reps. Tom Emmer (R-MN) and Joyce Beatty (D-OH) also signed the letter. The full text of the letter is available here.

“This law ensures that money for food, education, and small business start-ups sent from relatives abroad can reach families in Somalia without falling into the hands of extremist groups like Al-Shabaab and Daesh,” Rep. Ellison said. “By signing the strong Anti-Money Laundering Law passed by the Somali Parliament, President Mohamud is taking a critical step to restore the remittances lifeline and make it easier to combat terror, and that is cause for celebration.”

“I’m happy to learn President Mohamud signed the Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Bill into law today,” Rep. Vargas said. “Remittances are crucial to ensuring the safety and stability of millions of Somalis.”

“I applaud Somali President Mohamud for signing important anti-money laundering legislation into law. I continue to hear from and value the views of my constituents about the critical issue of remittances and understand that we need to ensure that residents of the 9th District and Somali-Americans everywhere are able to once again send money back to their families which pays for food, health care, and education,” Rep. Smith said. “I will continue to fight for policies that reflect the importance of fighting terrorism, increase cooperation with Somalia wherever possible, and provide for the flow of much-needed support to families in Somalia.” 

Congressman Smith Applauds Seattle City Council Resolution Supporting Nestora Salgado

Washington D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith issued the following statement applauding the Seattle City Council’s unanimous vote in favor of a resolution calling for the release of Renton resident Nestora Salgado:

February 22, 2016

“I commend the City of Seattle’s Resolution 31651 urging Mexican authorities to release Ms. Nestora Salgado and requesting the State Department to assist in securing her release.

“Throughout Nestora’s detention, I have consistently called for her release.  In August 2014, I wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry to call attention to Nestora’s case and to alert the Department of State to the concerning abuses of human rights and lack of due process Nestora has experienced throughout her detention.  Since that time, I have engaged with U.S. and Mexican government officials in hopes of securing Nestora’s release and advocating for her safety and well-being.

“As part of my continued calls for her freedom, in October 2015 I again wrote to Secretary Kerry advocating for Department of State assistance for the Salgado family and Nestora’s legal advocate Seattle University School of Law Professor Thomas Antkowiak in advance of hearings at the Inter-American Human Rights Commission.  The Department of State responded by attending the October 2015 hearings, meeting with the family, and through continued engagement on Nestora’s case.

“My office has remained involved and in direct communication with the State Department and Professor Antkowiak in the wake of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission hearings.  After being notified of the recent United Nations Working Group decision calling for Nestora’s release, my office immediately contacted Professor Antkowiak and the Department of State, and continues to advocate for leveraging the recent decision for Nestora’s immediate release. 

“I am committed to working toward the safe return of Nestora to her family. The United Nations Working Group Report is further evidence that the Mexican government’s detention of Nestora is illegal and that she should be released immediately.  It is unacceptable for the Mexican government to continue to imprison Nestora.  I will remain involved and engaged on this critical issue until she is released and am grateful to Councilmember Kshama Sawant and the Seattle City Council for their calling attention to Nestora’s case. As a community, we must continue to work together to ensure Nestora is released and is returned safely home to her family in Renton.” 

Ranking Member Smith Continues to Call for End to Sequestration

Washington D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith, Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, has introduced legislation to end sequestration and its damage to our economy:

February 12, 2016

“Over the past three years, sequestration and its drastic and across-the-board cuts have negatively impacted our economy, disrupted our government, and harmed our nation. As Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, I have long called for ending the sequester. This week, I introduced the Relief from Sequestration Act of 2016 (H.R. 4512) to repeal the sequestration mechanism in its entirety.  My bill would end the threat of future government shutdowns and looming draconian cuts to important national priorities.

“H.R. 4512 would end years of harmful and indiscriminate cuts to discretionary programs by eliminating the $1.2 trillion of discretionary reductions that are required by the Budget Control Act of 2011 and that will again take effect in 2018. My bill does not deny the fact that we need a comprehensive, long-term deficit reduction deal.  We absolutely do. This legislation recognizes that discretionary spending accounts, and the economy, should no longer be held hostage by the threat of sequestration while Congress debates and acts on the larger budget changes that are fundamentally necessary.  We have a deficit problem that must be addressed, but we should not continue to damage our economy and undermine national security in the process.

“The President’s Fiscal Year 2017 Budget, released earlier this week, eliminates the sequester after 2018 and recognizes that sequestration was never intended to be implemented, but was instead meant to force Congress to have an honest conversation about the budget. The sequestration mechanism is not necessary to reduce our deficits. The Bipartisan Budget Agreement signed into law last October began to address our budget challenges in a more balanced way, but the looming threat of sequestration continues to limit the ability of government to plan in the long term. With the threat of sequestration eliminated, Democrats and Republicans in Congress can finally come together and focus on crafting and implementing a stable and responsible budget that reflects our nation’s priorities without a looming budget threat.”

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 arbitrary 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, slowing the recovery, and disrupting regular order in Congress.  While Congress has succeeded in negotiating proposals to minimize the immediate impact of sequestration, these are set to expire within a few years. The solution must be to permanently end sequestration.