Press Releases

Armed Services Ranking Member Smith and Key Appropriators Oppose Trump Plan to Spend Military Readiness and Infrastructure Funds on Border Wall

Letter to Secretary Mattis Urges Him to Turn Down Unauthorized Request from the Homeland Security Department

September 6, 2018

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“It is utterly irresponsible and appalling that President Trump wants to take away funding for military readiness and infrastructure in order to spend it on his border wall,” said Smith. “We are trying to ensure that our men and women in uniform have the facilities and training they need to face serious dangers while defending our country. If Secretary Mattis follows through on this request, it would undermine those efforts. President Trump should not be taking away money from our troops and spending it on his wall.” 

“At a time when our country faces many serious national security threats around the world, it is simply outrageous to divert funds from the Pentagon to President Trump’s wasteful border wall,” Lowey said. “House Democrats stand united against this reckless proposal that endangers military readiness and undermines Congress’ Constitutional power of the purse.” 

“This is simply not the Department of Defense’s responsibility,” said Visclosky. “Military leaders who constantly testify and defend budget requests are well aware of the Congressional authorization and appropriation processes. We must continue to follow these established and Constitutional procedures to ensure that the Department of Defense is able to meet its stated objectives and support our brave men and women in uniform.”   

“President Trump’s willingness to sacrifice our military’s training and infrastructure to pay for an ineffective border wall is a shameful betrayal of the uniformed men and women who keep this nation safe,” said Wasserman Schultz. “No one who bravely serves our country should be asked to sacrifice our military readiness to pay for this boondoggle.”

The letter, which can be found at this link, reads as follows:

 

September 5, 2018

 

 

The Honorable James N. Mattis

Secretary of Defense

1000 Defense Pentagon

Washington, DC 20301-1000

 

Dear Secretary Mattis,

Last month the Department of Homeland Security transmitted a request to the Department of Defense to enhance existing border fencing and construct new border infrastructure along 31 miles of the Barry M. Goldwater Range in Arizona. With an estimated cost of $450 million, we write to express our strong opposition to the use of Department of Defense funds for this purpose and respectfully urge you to deny the Department of Homeland Security’s request.

In countless hearings and briefings this year we have heard from senior civilian and military leadership on the readiness challenges our military currently faces. We have heard about the Department of Defense’s plans to rebuild military readiness, to include investing in additional spare parts and maintenance, increasing training opportunities, growing certain military occupational specialties, and modernizing aging weapon systems. We have also heard the repeated calls from the Department for stable and predictable funding. With that in mind, we fail to see how diverting $450 million away from efforts to rebuild military readiness is in the Department or the taxpayers’ best interests.

We are also aware of the risk the Department of Defense has taken in new military construction and the significant backlog in sustainment, restoration, and modernization of facilities that support military readiness and quality of life for military personnel and their families. Department of Defense officials testified that the facilities maintenance backlog across the Department amounted to $116 billion and that 31% of the department’s facilities were in poor or failing condition. Funding the requested border infrastructure project may divert resources away from authorized and appropriated military construction projects, deferring critical investments to meet new mission requirements or replacing failing infrastructure. 

In addition to concerns with the prioritization of these funds, we also have questions about what statutory authority would be used to fund this project. We note that military construction projects that exceed the minor construction threshold require line-item authorization and appropriation by Congress. Congress has not provided an authorization or appropriation for a border infrastructure military construction project and we do not believe the scope or justification for the project warrants the use of emergency construction authorities or consideration outside of the annual authorization and appropriations process. 

While reform to our immigration system is needed, we do not believe it is a prudent use of taxpayer funds to have the Department of Defense spend approximately $450 million on 31 miles of border infrastructure.  Instead, the Department of Defense should focus its time and resources on infrastructure needs that address the military readiness shortfalls that have been repeatedly highlighted by civilian and military leadership.

We appreciate your consideration of our concerns and look forward to hearing from you on this important topic.

Sincerely.

 

 

Adam Smith                                                                Nita M. Lowey

Ranking Member                                                        Ranking Member

House Armed Services Committee                            House Appropriations Committee

 

 

 

 

 

Peter J. Visclosky                                                        Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Ranking Member                                                        Ranking Member

House Appropriations Committee                              House Appropriations Committee

Subcommittee on Defense                                          Subcommittee on Military Construction,

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the top Democrat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), and Representative Adam Smith (WA-9) sent a letter to Anne White, Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management at the Department of Energy, requesting additional public hearings in the Pacific Northwest on the department’s proposal for completing cleanup and closing the C Tank Farm at Hanford. To date, the Department has only held one public meeting on the issue, in Richland, Washington.

In the letter the lawmakers wrote, “Public hearings are an important avenue for DOE to both explain the Draft WIR Evaluation and to receive comment from states, tribal nations, stakeholder groups, and the public.”

“While we understand the Draft WIR Evaluation is the natural next step from DOE’s perspective, we also recognize this is a complex decision that involves managing waste differently, reclassifying waste, and has the potential to set precedent for the 17 other tank farms at Hanford. A decision of this magnitude should be made in an open and transparent manner with multiple avenues for public engagement,” said the lawmakers. “Therefore, we join the Washington State Department of Ecology and stakeholders groups in calling on DOE to hold additional public hearings in the Pacific Northwest to ensure the views of Washingtonians are heard.”

 

The full letter can be found HERE and below.

The Honorable Anne M. White

Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management

U.S. Department of Energy

1000 Independence Avenue, S.W.

Washington, D.C. 20585

 

Dear Assistant Secretary White:

We write to request that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) consider holding additional public hearings in the Pacific Northwest regarding the “Draft Waste Incidental to Reprocessing Evaluation for Closure of Waste Management Area C at the Hanford Site, Washington” (Draft WIR Evaluation). Public hearings are an important avenue for DOE to both explain the Draft WIR Evaluation and to receive comment from states, tribal nations, stakeholder groups, and the public.

We appreciate that DOE has extended the original 96-day comment period by an additional 60 days, providing more time for the public to review, evaluate, and provide input on the Draft WIR Evaluation. However, to date, DOE has only held one public meeting on the Draft WIR Evaluation in Richland, Washington. We have heard from stakeholders expressing the importance of holding additional public hearings at times and locations that allow for full participation.

The Waste Management Area C, also known as the C Tank Farm, consists of 16 single-shell tanks. We commend DOE and the Hanford workforce for retrieving more than 1.7 million gallons of waste from these tanks and transferring it into double-shell tanks. While we understand the Draft WIR Evaluation is the natural next step from DOE’s perspective, we also recognize this is a complex decision that involves managing waste differently, reclassifying waste, and has the potential to set precedent for the 17 other tank farms at Hanford. A decision of this magnitude should be made in an open and transparent manner with multiple avenues for public engagement. Therefore, we join the Washington State Department of Ecology and stakeholders groups in calling on DOE to hold additional public hearings in the Pacific Northwest to ensure the views of Washingtonians are heard.

Thank you for consideration of our request.

 

Sincerely,

Washington D.C.Congressman Adam Smith released the following statement in honor of Labor Day:

“On Labor Day, we honor the American worker and the labor movement that is an integral engine of our economy and our social fabric. As the son of a union baggage handler at SeaTac Airport, I know firsthand how labor unions have helped generations of America’s working families thrive. At a time when labor unions are under direct attack, we must show America’s workers the same devotion they have shown to our society. 

“The contributions of the labor movement have been fundamental in ensuring American workers receive their well-deserved rights. We must continue to fight for jobs that pay a living wage, provide fair workplace conditions, and build a healthcare system that covers those in need. It is vital that we resume investing in the American worker and ensure their success in an increasingly competitive marketplace.”

Washington, DC - House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA) made the following statement in response to the recently released study, commissioned by Governor Ricardo Rosselló of Puerto Rico, estimating the death toll from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico at 2,975:

“President Trump failed the American people in his response to Hurricane Maria, and it took Congressional pressure to force him to increase his commitment to military disaster relief for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. I cannot explain why he was so unwilling to do the right thing, and when he did, it turned out to be too little, too late. There are studies that show the death toll was in the thousands and not in the hundreds. This is not a situation where you can cover up the true impact on American citizens. The Trump Administration must be held accountable for their reckless mismanagement and failure to respond swiftly and robustly to Americans in need. It is unacceptable the way this tragedy took place.”

“President Trump continues to push an unrelenting assault on critical protections for our environment. From rolling back fuel mileage standards, undermining clean air and clean water protections, gutting the Endangered Species Act, and opening up our national monuments to development and mining, the President is actively working to endanger our environment.  Most troubling of all, he is pushing us towards being more reliant on fossil fuels. It is absolutely clear that carbon-based emissions are heating up earth and putting us on a path that will destroy our planet. We need to get off our dependency on carbon, not promote it.

“By gutting the Clean Power Plan, getting rid of federal regulations on carbon emissions, step by step the President is pushing us in the wrong direction. We are already at the point where we have waited way too long to address the impact of climate change and carbon-based fuels. For the President to roll back the progress we have made is disastrous and must be confronted.

“One area we continue to make progress is with the Department of Defense. As Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, I have worked with my colleagues to declare that climate change is a national security threat. We have directed funding to pursue clean and alternative energy sources and end our reliance as a nation on fossil fuels. I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure that the Department of Defense is planning for and mitigating against the impact of climate change and continues to invest in clean sources of energy to reduce our dependency on fossil fuel. 

“President Trump and Republicans in Congress have chosen to ignore climate change’s very real and negative impacts, and we must fight to stop them. We cannot let actions like today’s proposed rule reverse the critical progress that has been made.”