January 31, 2019
Washington, DC – House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA) sent a letter to Acting Secretary of Defense Shanahan regarding the Armed Services Committee’s hearing on the Department of Defense’s Support to the Southern Border this Tuesday, January 29, 2019. The full text of the letter is available here.
Chairman Smith released the following statement about the letter:
“The number one thing that the House Armed Services Committee wants from the Defense Department this Congress is transparency. We did not get full transparency during this week’s hearing about DOD support to the southern border.
“I am deeply troubled that the witnesses did not disclose the upcoming increase in guard, reserve, and active duty personnel, even though we asked them multiple times during a two-and-a-half-hour hearing what would happen next on the border. They never mentioned it, despite the fact that the Secretary of Defense was revealing an increase in personnel that same day. This was at best an error in judgment, and at worst flat-out dishonesty.
“The Members of the Committee would have been extremely interested in discussing what the 3,500 troops going to the border in response to DHS’s latest request will be doing there. This is a violation of the executive branch’s obligation to be transparent with Congress, which oversees, authorizes, and funds its operations. It also raises questions about whether the Department thinks the policy of sending additional troops to the border is so unjustified that they cannot defend an increase in public.
“I have followed up on that hearing with a phone call to Secretary Shanahan, and he has provided more details on the increase. I appreciate his willingness to discuss it with me, but a phone call is not a substitute for transparency before Congress and public candor. Does their refusal to publicly discuss what they are doing indicate that this is a policy they believe they cannot defend in an open public hearing before the full Armed Services Committee, where all 57 members have the opportunity to ask questions?”