Press Releases

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.”

The PRO Act would strengthen workers’ right to organize, join a union, and bargain collectively for higher wages, better benefits, and safer working conditions 

This comprehensive legislation would level the playing field and empower workers to stand together

(Washington, D.C.)  – Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), top Democrat on the Senate labor committee, Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), and Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09) joined colleagues in the Senate and House of Representatives to introduce the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act—comprehensive legislation to strengthen protections for workers’ right to organize a union and bargain for higher wages, better benefits, and safer working conditions. As wage inequality continues to leave workers and middle-class families behind, this legislation would empower millions of Americans to stand together and ensure hardworking people are getting their fair share of economic growth.

A recent study published in the National Bureau of Economic Research found that unions have consistently provided workers with a 10- to 20-percent wage boost over their non-union counterparts over the past eight decades.

“Unions helped create the middle class in this country, but decades of attacks by corporate special interests have left many workers struggling to make ends meet and without a voice to advocate for themselves,” said Senator Murray. “Our economy should work for everyone, not just corporate CEOs and billionaires—and that’s why I’m proud to introduce the PRO Act to strengthen workers’ bargaining power and their right to join a union to advocate for safer working conditions, better pay, and a secure retirement.”

“Under GOP rule, we have seen countless policy changes that have resulted in an economy of inequality and instability for our country’s most vulnerable workers. The Protecting the Right to Organize Act will help reverse the years of damage done by policies stripping workers of their right to unite and bargain for themselves. I am proud to co-lead this legislation that will restore fairness to an economy that has turned its back on the lower class and strengthen federal laws to protect workers’ rights,” said Congresswoman Jayapal.

“In Washington state, we know the power of unions and organized labor first-hand. We have the best workers in the world, who consistently prevail even when the deck is stacked against them. The working men and women of the United States are the reason why our country’s economic productivity is the envy of the world. Today, as too many middle-class families struggle to make ends meet and too many people work long hours for too little pay, we need to strengthen collective bargaining and support working families,” said Senator Cantwell.

“Labor unions and collective bargaining rights have and continue to play a crucial role in supporting our nation’s workers and shaping the backbone of America’s strong middle class,” said Congressman Smith. “I am proud to introduce The PRO Act with my colleagues because it is more important than ever that we protect workers’ rights to organize and collectively bargain.  Doing so is crucial to combatting increasing economic inequality, protecting workers’ wellbeing, creating new living wage jobs, and ensuring that today’s and future workers can build better life for themselves and their families.”

Specifically, the PRO Act would:

  • Establish penalties on predatory corporations that violate workers’ rights, and combat misclassification of workers as supervisors and independent contractors.
  • Strengthen workers’ right to strike for basic workplace improvements, including higher wages and better working conditions.
  • Create a mandatory mediation and arbitration process to ensure corporations and newly formed unions reach a first contract.
  • Authorize unions and employers to negotiate agreements that allow unions to collect fair-share fees that cover the costs of representation.
  • Streamline the National Labor Relation Board’s (NLRB) procedures to secure worker freedoms and effectively prevent violations.
  • Protect the integrity of union elections against coercive captive audience meetings.  

The PRO Act is endorsed by AFL-CIO; International Brotherhood of Teamsters; Service Employees International Union; Communications Workers of America; International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; United Steelworkers; AFSCME; United Food and Commercial Workers International; American Federation of Musicians; United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry; International Longshoremen’s Association; Professional Aviation Safety Specialists; International Association of Sheet, Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers; American Federation of Government Employees; International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots; Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO; Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen; Utility Workers Union of America, International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Radio and Television Artists; Guild of Italian American Actors.

To read the fact sheet of the PRO Act, click here.

To read the section by section on the PRO Act, click here.

To read the full text of the PRO Act, click here.


Bill would help expand recreational opportunities for veterans on public lands


WASHINGTON, D.C. — Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) on Wednesday joined lead sponsor Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) in reintroducing bipartisan legislation, H.R. 2435, to help expand opportunities for military veterans to heal and seek treatment through outdoor recreation and public lands. Similar legislation is being introduced in the Senate by Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Steve Daines (R-MT).

“Access to the outdoors can have a tangible and meaningful impact on our veterans’ mental health and physical wellbeing,” said Congressman Adam Smith, lead Democratic cosponsor of the legislation. “In the Pacific Northwest, we see firsthand the restorative power that spending time in nature can have as a part of comprehensive therapy. By bringing together the VA, federal agencies, and stakeholders from veterans and outdoors organizations, the Accelerating Veterans Recovery Outdoors Act will help increase opportunities for veterans and their families to experience the benefits of the public lands and outdoors spaces that their service to our country has protected. I am proud to join in the reintroduction of this bipartisan legislation with Congressman Chris Smith to help our nation’s veterans and their families experience the outdoors.”

“Veterans hospitals are renowned for intricate and comprehensive specialty surgeries and treatments, but we can and should do more,” said Rep. Chris Smith, former Veterans Committee Chairman. “Studies have shown—and veterans organizations strongly concur—that outdoor recreational activities can provide powerful therapeutic and healing benefits as well as camaraderie for veterans struggling with combat-related injuries or post-traumatic stress,” said Rep. Chris Smith. “We should be thinking outside-the-box to discover as many ways as possible to help veterans, and opening up federal lands and removing barriers to access for remedial outdoor recreation is a no-brainer. My legislation would help increase access to this treatment option.”

Veteran assistance groups have said that access to nature, combined with group activities, have positive therapeutic effects on veterans especially those struggling with combat-related injuries or post-traumatic stress.

The Outdoor Recreation Therapy for Veterans Act would direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish an inter-agency task force to make recommendations to increase opportunities for veterans to receive treatment and therapy through the use of public lands and outdoor spaces..

Among other actions, the task force would:

  • Be co-chaired by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and the Secretary of the Interior and include the Secretaries of HHS, Agriculture, Defense, and Homeland Security, and the Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers;
  • Discover opportunities for collaboration between the VA and public land agencies to increase the opportunities for veterans to enjoy outdoor recreation; and
  • Identify obstacles that currently exist to veteran outdoor recreation.

The legislation is supported by various veteran advocacy and outdoor recreation groups, including Paralyzed Veterans of America, Disabled American Veterans (DAV), American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Minority Veterans of America, Blue Star Families, Vet Voice Foundation, Sierra Club, Adventure Not War, REI Co-op, PeopleForBikes, Outdoor Alliance, Outdoor Industry Association, Outdoor Research, and the National Parks Conservation Association.

“Using our public lands for the benefit of veterans is highly valued here in Washington State. I appreciate all the work Congressman Smith and our state veterans department has been doing to expand this concept nationwide,” said Governor Jay Inslee.

“The outdoors provide military families a much-needed place of recreation, rejuvenation, and healing. At Blue Star Families, programs such as Blue Star Parks connect the military community to nature, because the parks make a difference.  An overwhelming majority of military families report that visiting parks provides a much-needed outlet from the stress of their daily lives,” said Kathy Roth-Douquet, Founder and CEO of Blue Star Families. “We commend this bi-partisan bill from Congressmen Chris Smith and Adam Smith, and Senators Cortez Masto and Daines, because it will make our nation's backyard more accessible for our veteran community and their families. Protecting and preserving these beautiful lands is one of the reasons we serve and sacrifice, so it means so much to us to enjoy them with our families.”

“The Accelerating Veterans Recovery Outdoors Act, will connect Veterans to natural resources as a means to transition, a better understanding and guidance for tremendous outcomes.  Washington State has been providing successful outdoor recovery opportunities since 2005.  We are excited about this work taking place at the federal level so we can better serve our Veterans and their families, “ said Lourdes E. Alvarado-Ramos, Director, Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs

“Veterans have demanded for years outdoor recreation programs be a part of our health treatment. It is long overdue for the VA to recognize this basic, yet vital need...they now have the opportunity to begin providing Veterans with this service!” said Robert White, VP of Internal Relations for Minority Veterans of America.

“At REI Co-op, we believe a life outdoors is a life well-lived.  It can even be healing, especially for our veterans who have sacrificed much of their lives to protect our nation,” said Eric Artz, REI’s President and CEO.  “We owe them our gratitude not just today, but every day.  So, we applaud congressmen Chris Smith and Adam Smith, and Senators Cortez Masto and Daines for taking this basic step—instructing the VA and the nation’s land managers to determine how our lands can be used to help our veterans heal.  We know the outdoors is good for you.  It’s only right that we make it as easy as possible for our veterans to rejuvenate among the country’s natural wonders.”

“As a combat veteran working at the intersection of public lands and outdoor recreation for veterans and military families, I have experienced the healing power of nature firsthand,” stated Rob Vessels, Director of Sierra Club's Military Outdoors Campaign and Army veteran. “The Sierra Club believes that every veteran should have the opportunity to get outdoors when they return home from service. We applaud and support this bi-partisan bill and thank Congressmen Chris Smith and Adam Smith, as well as all sponsors for their efforts to improve the lives of our veterans. When our veterans thrive, so too does our society.”

“Preliminary evidence suggests that outdoor hiking—combining the benefits of nature contact, group bonding, and physical activity—may be effective in treating veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We also know that nature contact has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, and is associated with decreased likelihood of depression,” said Gregory Bratman, Doug Walker Endowed Professor of Environmental and Forest Sciences at the University of Washington. “This bill would provide an opportunity to maximize use of federal lands to gain more understanding about the ways in which nature experience benefits the people who have served our country, informing the design of future interventions aimed at addressing their pressing mental and physical health needs.”

“This study is needed to recognize the healing power of the outdoors for all users, especially our military veterans.  The benefits are real to anyone who has enjoyed our parks and public lands,” said Ani Kame’enui, Legislative Director of the National Parks Conservation Association.

“Outdoor recreation therapies such as hunting and fishing provide camaraderie and healing for veterans who struggle with the wounds of war. The VFW supports expanding such opportunities for veterans and thanks Congressman Chris Smith for introducing the Outdoor Recreation Therapy for Veterans Act,” said VFW Executive Director Bob Wallace. “This bill would rightfully evaluate and remove barriers to access for veterans who would like to use outdoor activities to cope with their service-related illnesses and injuries.”

“The Vet Voice Foundation strongly endorses the bi-partisan bill co-sponsored by Representatives Chris Smith and Adam Smith and Senators Cortez Masto and Daines to establish a task force on the use of public lands for treatment and therapy through outdoor recreation for Veterans. The health benefits of the outdoors to help our Veteran men and women to walk off the war have long been recognized. We 500,000 members of the VVF applaud this initiative,” the Vet Voice Foundation said in a statement.

“The combination of the outdoors and traditional mental health care has saved lives. Time and time again I’ve witnessed how veterans like myself with PTSD have benefited from the healing properties of nature, effective mental health care, and the rebuilding of community and confidence through challenging outdoor activity with fellow veterans,” said Joshua Brandon, Veteran and Ambassador for Outdoor Research. “While we have learned much about how to leverage nature-based activity in support of traditional healthcare, we still have a long road ahead of us in establishing this as a legitimate means of treatment for our veteran community. This bill by congressmen Adam Smith and Chris Smith, and Senators Cortez Masto and Daines, is a major step forward in achieving this goal. By enabling our veteran healthcare care providers and our land managers to work together to better serve our military community we open the door for much needed work in areas such as research, improved healthcare services, and nontraditional partnerships that will ultimately improve how we take care of our warriors when they return home from war.”

“DAV has supported numerous programs over the years to provide recreational therapies for injured and ill veterans, most notably the DAV and VA co-sponsored National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic and National Disabled Veterans TEE Tournament. We know the therapeutic benefit these experiences have, and are pleased to support The Outdoor Recreation Therapy for Veterans Act as it could create even more opportunities for veterans to experience the life-changing power of alternative therapies,” said DAV National Commander Dennis R. Nixon.

“For 100 years The American Legion has been concerned with making veterans heal not just from the wounds of war, but any disabilities or conditions incurred as a result of their military service,” National Commander Brett P. Reistad said. “We also support the use of a wide variety of therapies. Due to the physical requirements to serve in the military, many veterans enjoy outdoor activities. The American Legion welcomes any legislation that combines recreational therapy for veterans with the use of public resources.”

“Outdoor recreation is an important part of caring for America’s veterans.  The legislation being introduced by Rep. Chris Smith and Rep. Adam Smith, and Senators Cortez Masto and Daines, will help to develop needed coordination among our federal agencies to better understand how the outdoors can help and treat those who have served in uniform,” Jenn Dice, Vice Business for the Business Network of PeopleForBikes. “Our veterans deserve the best care available and looking into innovative solutions for leveraging our public lands is something we should all welcome.”

“Our public lands help define us - so much of who we are as a people, and what we have accomplished as a nation arise out of these cherished places,” observed Adam Cramer, Executive Director of Outdoor Alliance. “The power of our public lands to restore is self-evident, so we are delighted with the compassion of congressmen Chris Smith and Adam Smith, and Senators Cortez Masto and Daines, to better connect our veterans with the healing aspects of our public lands.”

“Veterans are integral to the outdoor industry — they rely on our outdoor products when they serve our country and many become key members of the outdoor industry workforce and leadership when they complete their service,” said Amy Roberts, executive director of Outdoor Industry Association. "We are also learning more and more about the unique and powerful connection between mental and physical health and being outdoors — we need to continue to do all we can to ensure that our veterans have access to the outdoors to heal, reconnect and enjoy the special places their service helps keep open and free."

“Time outdoors was the place that put me not just on my healing journey, but my journey fully home when I got home from war. After casting about for two years trying to find a place to call home and a new mission and team, it was rock climbing, and later white water rafting and skiing that truly brought me back home,” said Stacy Bare, OIF Veteran 06-07, 2014 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year, and Founder of Adventure Not War. “I commend any effort of Congress that helps veterans, service members, and their families, people just like me in making it easier to get outdoors. There are real, scientifically verified health benefits to time outdoors. Perhaps more importantly, time outdoors, structured the right way, helps encourage people to seek and complete traditional treatments. I couldn't be prouder of this bi-partisan effort in Congress!”