Press Releases

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, issued the following statement after the House passed H.R. 6395, the William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 with strong bipartisan support:

“Following months of bipartisan collaboration, the House passed the NDAA today with key provisions to support our service members and their families, honor the values of our country, and advance America’s leadership. This bill takes serious steps to address two crises our country is currently grappling with: the COVID-19 pandemic and systematic racism.

“I worked closely with House Armed Services Committee Vice Chair Anthony Brown (D-MD), the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, and the Congressional Progressive Caucus to take bold steps to promote diversity and inclusion and help address systemic racism in our military institutions. The bill requires the Department of Defense to change the names of all military bases named for individuals who served in the Confederacy and prohibits the public display of the Confederate flag on Department of Defense installations. The bill also establishes a Chief Diversity Officer within the DoD and each of the services, establishes a Military Diversity Leadership Commission, and requires a strategy to increase diversity within the DoD to be representative of the U.S. population.

“This year’s bill also takes important steps to ensure that any domestic deployment of federal law enforcement officers or active-duty troops is transparent by adding guardrails to any future use of the Insurrection Act. Thanks to House Democrats, the NDAA also requires federal law enforcement officers to clearly display their name and agency on their uniforms so no administration can abuse its power to undermine civil rights, peaceful protests, and sow fear and discord across the country.

“The FY21 NDAA limits the President’s ability to transfer military construction funding under his emergency authority, thus preventing President Trump from raiding military construction projects to pay for his vanity wall on the Southern border.

“The NDAA strengthens our nation’s ability to prepare for and respond to pandemics by establishing a $1 billion Pandemic Preparedness and Resilience National Security Fund. The bill takes a comprehensive approach with investments in research and development, biological threat detection and reduction, and supply chain resiliency. In addition, the bill helps ensure a coordinated, government-wide approach to pandemics by re-establishing a lead for pandemic response within the Administration and creating an Interagency Review Council to implement the Global Health Security Agenda.

“For years, the NDAA has taken important steps to combat climate change and protect the environment. This bill includes some of the strongest provisions we have ever had when it comes to promoting public lands, combating climate change, and protecting the health of our communities from contamination associated with PFAS ‘forever chemicals’ around military installations. The bill designates millions of acres of public lands as wilderness or potential wilderness areas, preserving and protecting these public lands to improve biodiversity, safeguard water quality, and protect wildlife habitat. This includes legislation from Congressman Derek Kilmer (D-WA) to protect roughly 131,000 acres of public lands and add over 450 miles to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System on Washington's Olympic Peninsula.

“I fought for provisions in this bill to ensure U.S. foreign policy better reflects our values. The NDAA continues my work with Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA) and our colleagues on the Congressional Progressive Caucus to put an end to the genocide in Yemen. This year we successfully included an amendment to prohibit the use of DoD funds to provide logistical support for air strikes to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen and prohibit DoD personnel from participating in hostilities against the Houthis without authorization from Congress.

“The bill takes a strong stance against new live nuclear testing by prohibiting any funds for such use in FY 2021. Additionally, the bill does not contain restrictions on transferring detainees from Guantanamo Bay to the United States, which have historically been included in the NDAA.

“This year’s NDAA puts the Department of Defense civilian and military workforce front and center. As a longtime proponent of labor unions, I am especially pleased that we were successful in prohibiting the DoD from excluding any civilian employees from their collective bargaining rights. The bill also establishes pay equity for civilian employees to ensure these workers are paid fairer wages. For our service members, the bill once again includes a 3 percent military pay raise. Additionally, the bill updates the minimum health and safety standards for all military base housing and implements additional provisions ensuring accountability and transparency from private housing companies.

“This is a strong bipartisan bill that the House was able to craft, which would not have been possible without the leadership and dedication of my colleagues. This year’s bill honors America’s values by encouraging diversity and inclusion in the military, taking steps to address systemic racism in our military institutions, and prioritizing a comprehensive approach to strengthen our national security.”

A summary of the provisions in the FY21 NDAA is available here.


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representatives Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, today issued the following statement after the Trump Administration continued to use violent tactics against protestors in Portland, Oregon throughout the weekend.

“Our nation is at a crossroads, and as Americans across the country exercise their First Amendment rights, the Trump Administration has repeatedly deployed federal law enforcement officials to try to silence them. Americans are watching the latest deeply disturbing use of federal law enforcement in Portland, Oregon.

“We find it particularly troubling that in Portland, many of these federal officers have apparently been patrolling the streets in unmarked vehicles and arresting protestors off the street – in some cases without probable cause and without reading their Miranda rights – all while donning what appears to be military uniforms.

“These alarming actions beg a number of serious questions. Was it the intent of the Trump Administration to make it seem as though the U.S. military is being deployed to control a U.S. city? Are they completely ignorant about the optics of the situation?

“We’ve been down this road before. The Trump Administration continues to weaponize federal law enforcement for its own agenda. Like we saw in Lafayette Park, rather than supporting and protecting the American people, we are witnessing the oppression of peaceful protestors by our own government.

“Not only do their action undermine civil rights and sow fear and discord across the country, but in this case, they sully the reputation of members of our Armed Forces who were not involved.

“This is simply unacceptable, and it must stop. We need answers and accountability for the actions by federal law enforcement in Portland, and we need to continue to find ways to rein in the Trump Administration’s growing militarization and misuse of federal law enforcement against the American people.”


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) released the following statement on the passing of Congressman John Lewis:

“America mourns the loss of Congressman John Lewis, a civil rights icon whose moral compass and courage have not wavered, from Selma to the halls of Congress.

“As America reaches another pivotal moment in the fight for equality, there is no better legacy for us to follow than John’s. We will continue to work toward his mission for equality for all, honoring and learning from his devotion to justice for years to come.

“This a grave loss not just for Congress but for all Americans. It was an honor to serve with John Lewis. His service and sacrifice for this nation is an inspiration for us all, and I extend my deepest condolences to his family.”



WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, today issued the following statement after Secretary of Defense Mark Esper distributed guidance to the Department of Defense regarding the display of flags, effectively banning the public display of the Confederate flag across the Department.
“Secretary Esper’s decision to effectively ban the public display of the Confederate flag – a divisive symbol of hate and oppression – is a good first step in the right direction as our government and our military grapple with our shared history of racism.
“By issuing specific guidance to the entire Department of Defense, Secretary Esper clearly codified which flags are permissible for public display across the Department. This guidance does not call out the Confederate flag explicitly. Instead, by omitting the Confederate flag from the list of approved flags, the guidance makes clear that there is no place for that symbol in public DOD settings, which is an important change in policy that I strongly support.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) released the following statement after the Trump Administration blocked the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from testifying at public hearings about safely reopening schools.

“The Trump Administration still has no plan to stop the spread of COVID-19 and is now preventing the CDC from testifying before the Committee on Education and Labor about safely reopening schools. At a time where it is critical to have safe reopening plans backed by the advice of public health experts, the Administration is blocking Congress from accessing the information we need to keep our communities safe and informed.

“I remain extremely concerned that the Administration seems to be ignoring the guidance of scientific experts, leaving communities across the country with little to no information on best practices for moving forward. Congress needs the testimony of CDC officials and other experts to understand the federal resources necessary to safely reopen schools.

“The President’s comments this week threatening to withhold federal funds from schools that fail to fully reopen for in-person instruction are shameful. The decision of how and when to open schools in the fall should be left to states and school districts in coordination with public health experts to ensure every student, parent, teacher, and staff member is safe.

“Working to safely open schools should absolutely be a top priority. The best way to help make returning to school possible, just like reopening the economy, is to combat the pandemic itself. This Administration still has no coordinated national testing strategy. It still fails to use the full force of the Defense Production Act to ensure we have enough PPE and other medical supplies. These failures have cost lives and they will cost our students invaluable time in the classroom if there is no change from this Administration.”