Press Releases

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.

 

Congressman Smith Statement on President’s Budget Request

Washington D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith released the following statement after President Obama released his Fiscal Year 2017 budget request:

February 9, 2016

“The President’s budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2017 sets up an important debate about how our nation can continue to build an economy that allows for every American to attain economic prosperity. President Obama’s budget proposal funds critical investments to expand access to education, focuses on improving Information Technology to best deliver Federal services, and prioritizes sustainable research and development programs to help combat climate change. The President’s budget outlines his vision for a strong and secure future that allows hard-working Americans to achieve economic prosperity while keeping our nation safe.

“The Administration’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget also includes elimination of the sequester after 2018. Sequestration was never intended to be implemented, but instead was meant to force Congress to have an honest conversation about the budget. Over the past three years, sequestration and its drastic and across-the-board cuts has stood in the way of Congress enacting a stable budget that reflects our country’s priorities. I continue to call for an end to the sequester and have introduced the Relief from Sequestration Act. Eliminating sequestration now is a necessary first step in Republicans and Democrats coming together to implement a long-term spending plan that continues the progress we have made.

“I am encouraged by the recent willingness in Congress to come together and focus on crafting a more bipartisan path forward on the budget. The Bipartisan Budget Agreement signed into law last October began to address our budget challenges in a more balanced way. A responsible budget must prioritize education and encourage innovative growth that will stimulate economic mobility. Meeting the challenges we face as a country must also include comprehensive immigration reform and build upon the President’s recent actions to both reform our nation’s criminal justice system and address the growing epidemic of gun violence. I support the President’s roadmap for a fiscal path that will both provide for our national security and reinforce the building blocks necessary to continue to grow our economy for all Americans.”

Smith Statement on United Nations Working Group Ruling in Nestora Salgado Case

Congressman Adam Smith issued the following statement on the recent United Nations Working Group Ruling in Nestora Salgado’s case and his continued efforts to advocate for her release:

February 4, 2016

“On February 1, 2016, the case of Renton resident Nestora Salgado received long overdue legitimacy from the United Nations (UN) Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. In their legal decision dated December 17, 2015 made public this week, the international panel of independent human rights experts announced their conclusion that Nestora’s continued detention by the Mexican government is illegal and arbitrary. The formal UN Working Group Report calls for Nestora’s immediate release. Nestora has been imprisoned for over two years, following an August 2013 arrest for her leadership in a community police group in her hometown of Olinalá in the state of Guerrero.

“Throughout Nestora’s imprisonment, I have urged for her release.  In August of 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 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 continued engagement on Nestora’s case.

“My office has remained involved and in touch with the State Department and Professor Antkowiak in the wake of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission hearings.  After being notified of the UN decision, my office immediately contacted Professor Antkowiak and the Department of State 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 UN 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, and I will remain involved and engaged on this critical issue until she is released.”