Press Releases

Washington, D.C. – Today, House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA), House Homeland Security Committee Ranking Member Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), House Oversight & Government Reform Committee Ranking Member Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD), and 104 other House Democrats sent a letter calling on Secretary Mattis to provide answers about his deployment of 5,200 additional U.S. troops to the border, including how much the deployment will cost, how long the deployment will last, and what the rules of engagement will be.

“The United States can maintain a secure border and the rule of law while still upholding our country’s values to protect those fleeing persecution and violence. The use of military personnel, however, will not help us meet this challenge and only exacerbates the potential to unnecessarily escalate the situation,” the Members wrote in part.

The letter continues, “Instead of working in a bipartisan manner to make comprehensive, common-sense, and humane reforms to our immigration system, the President continues to turn to politically-motivated fear mongering and uses DOD resources and personnel as means to drive his troubling anti-immigration agenda.”

The full text of the letter is as follows, and a full list of co-signers is below. The letter can be found at this link

Dear Secretary Mattis,

We are writing today to express our opposition to the decision to use additional troops on the southern border to assist U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Congress was recently notified that the Administration is sending an additional 5,200 troops to the border without a long-term plan or an analysis of the effectiveness of previous deployments from this year.

The United States can maintain a secure border and the rule of law while still upholding our country’s values to protect those fleeing persecution and violence. The use of military personnel, however, will not help us meet this challenge and only exacerbates the potential to unnecessarily escalate the situation. This effort is nothing short of a militarization of the southern border to score political points and stoke misleading fears among Americans regarding immigrants. In addition, this decision negatively impacts the readiness of our military personnel who could be training to increase their effectiveness in line with their assigned missions and expertise.

This latest announcement follows a series of actions the President has taken this year to use the military to support his failed immigration policies. Earlier this year, National Guard troops were deployed to the southern border at a cost of $103 million, with no evidence to date of the necessity or effectiveness of their deployment. Furthermore, the Department of Defense (DOD) supported requests from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to shelter as many as 20,000 unaccompanied migrant children and 12,000 family members. Lastly, DOD internally approved $7.5 million for advanced planning for a 37-mile border barrier at the Barry M. Goldwater Range that could cost as much as $450 million. Instead of working in a bipartisan manner to make comprehensive, common-sense, and humane reforms to our immigration system, the President continues to turn to politically-motivated fear mongering and uses DOD resources and personnel as means to drive his troubling anti-immigration agenda.

The President has exploited the caravan of people traveling to the U.S. to seek asylum for his own political gain, and he continues to politicize and militarize this humanitarian crisis as these men, women, and children are fleeing violence and persecution in an unstable part of the world. This is another example of the President using fear-mongering tactics over a humanitarian issue. This use of military personnel and resources for functions outside of core mission areas warrants additional Congressional oversight.

Given this disparate approach, we request an update to answer the following questions:

1. What is the duration of the recent deployment to the southern border for the personnel deployed and to be deployed?

2. How many personnel will come from each component of the military i.e. active duty, National Guard and Reserve?

3. What rules of engagement will troops be under with regard to individuals in the caravan or any other individuals approaching or coming across the southern border?

4. Have any troops been instructed or trained on how to interact or engage in any way with individuals in the caravan? If so, what is the nature of the expected interaction and what training have these troops received for these interactions?

5. How much will this deployment cost the American taxpayer?

With all of these pressing concerns in mind, we request a briefing and written response to answer the questions above, and we request an overview of the current strategy. We look forward to your response and thank you for your attention on this matter.


Reps. Adam Smith, Bennie G. Thompson, Jerrold Nadler, Elijah E. Cummings, Mark Pocan, David Cicilline, James P. McGovern, Carolyn Maloney, Frank Pallone, Jr., Nydia M. Velázquez, Ruben Kihuen, Joe Courtney, Marcy Kaptur, Colleen Hanabusa, Brenda Lawrence, Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Nanette Diaz Barragán, Adriano Espaillat, Richard E. Neal, Robert Brady, Linda T. Sanchez, Wm. Lacy Clay, Yvette D. Clarke, Donald M. Payne, Jr., William R. Keating, Scott Peters, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Ruben Gallego, Rick Larsen, Jim Langevin, Madeleine Z. Bordallo, John Garamendi, Jan Schakowsky, Mike Thompson, Debbie Dingell, Suzanne Bonamici, Thomas R. Suozzi, Jim Cooper, Chellie Pingree, Suzan K. DelBene, Peter Welch, Salud Carbajal, Jimmy Panetta, Grace F. Napolitano, Diana DeGette, Seth Moulton, Eric Swalwell, Albio Sires, Steve Cohen, Hakeem Jeffries, Donald Norcross, Pramila Jayapal, Mark Takano, Alcee L. Hastings, Mike Doyle, Luis V. Gutiérrez, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Darren Soto, Jim Himes, Filemon Vela, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Paul Tonko, Earl Blumenauer, Donald S. Beyer Jr., Marc Veasey, Marcia L. Fudge, Alan Lowenthal, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Frederica S. Wilson, Pete Visclosky, Barbara Lee, David E. Price, Julia Brownley, G.K. Butterfield, Anthony G. Brown, Jose Serrano, Cedric Richmond, Mark DeSaulnier, Gwen Moore, Beto O’Rourke, Daniel T. Kildee, Jamie Raskin, Emanuel Cleaver, II, Dina Titus, John Yarmuth, Richard M. Nolan, Susan Davis, Bobby L. Rush, Ted Lieu, Charlie Crist, Judy Chu, Ro Khanna, John Lewis, Carol Shea-Porter, Raúl M. Grijalva, Denny Heck, Keith Ellison, Kathleen M. Rice, Donald McEachin, Norma Torres, Tulsi Gabbard, Karen Bass, Nita Lowey, John B. Larson, Brad Schneider, Danny K. Davis, and Vicente Gonzalez.

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Washington, D.C. – House Armed Services Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA) released the following statement about National Security Advisor John Bolton’s announcement that President Trump is planning to host Vladimir Putin in Washington, DC, early next year:

“What happened in Helsinki cannot be repeated. I am very concerned that a visit to Washington, DC, could produce another embarrassing spectacle in which President Trump attempts to reorient our policies toward Russia in ways that undermine U.S. national security and our commitment to democratic values worldwide. Dialogue with Russia is needed, but President Trump has continued to demonstrate his disturbing affinity towards President Putin, including his continued denial of Russia’s meddling in our 2016 elections and his failure to devote sufficient resources to secure our elections moving forward. The United States should not condone the activities of authoritarian regimes that aim to erode freedom of the press, silence their dissidents, and pose a threat to democratic values.”

Washington, D.C. – House Armed Services Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA) released the following statement about President Trump’s announcement that he plans to send 800 additional U.S. troops to the border:

“The President’s announcement that he will send more troops to the border is fundamentally wrong and a political act at a time when leadership is needed. We should not be militarizing the border, and President Trump has offered no clear idea of what our forces are going to do there. We have seen no evidence that it was helpful or effective when he sent the National Guard to the border in April.

“The caravan of people that the President is focused on are coming to seek asylum, and they have a lawful right to do so. There is absolutely no reason to further politicize and militarize this humanitarian crisis.

“These men, women, and children are fleeing poverty and violence in a very unstable part of the world. The United States should be leading efforts to bring the countries of the region together to figure out what can be done to reduce the horrific conditions that are causing people to flee. I don’t have any illusions that this is going to be easy, and it doesn’t fall solely on the United States to resolve these issues, but our role as a global leader should be focused on bringing countries in the region together to make progress on these humanitarian challenges, instead of isolating ourselves in a show of military force.”

Washington, D.C. – Today, House Armed Services Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA) and House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY) sent a letter to President Trump warning against an exit from the INF and New START treaties, and demanding a briefing from Secretaries Mattis and Pompeo about any plans to do so. The text of the letter can be found here

Rep. Smith released the following statement about the subject:

“Withdrawing from the INF treaty and letting the New START Treaty expire would be grave mistakes. Those actions would needlessly and dangerously remove constraints on Russia’s testing and deployment of illegal cruise missiles; give Russia free rein to deploy an unlimited number of nuclear weapons; and plunge us headlong into a twenty-first century nuclear arms race. Doing so would be short-sighted and detrimental to national security.  

“It would divide our allies and play directly into President Putin’s hands. As our allies and partners have discussed, one of President Putin’s goals in undermining the INF Treaty is to goad us into such an action. That would benefit Russia and weaken deterrence by sowing discord among our allies and partners, and undermining European and U.S. security.

“Our strength is in our alliances, not in adding yet one more exotic new weapon or nuclear delivery platform, which is why we should implement the measures I’ve pursued in the House NDAA to push Russia back into compliance via sanctions and other methods. We should not take the bait and fall into Putin’s trap, and we should recognize that nuclear stability has been an essential component of our national security. Exiting from INF and New START would divide us from our allies, derail that stability, and lead us into an uncontrolled nuclear competition. This outcome would be dangerous and weaken our security and our leadership.  Instead we should pursue effective diplomatic efforts, make smart investments in a strong deterrent and pursue budgetary priorities that will most effectively keep our country secure, free, and prosperous.

Rep. Engel made the following statement:

“Unilaterally withdrawing from the decades-old INF Treaty puts us on a dangerous course, especially absent a strategy with our allies in Europe and Asia to deal effectively with Russia’s Treaty violations and avoid another nuclear arms race. It’s also outrageous that the Administration would plow ahead on a decision so critical to our security without consulting Congress. Ranking Member Smith and I will continue to push for an explanation for this action and for why the legislative branch was ignored in the process.”

The text of the letter is as follows:

October 24, 2018

Dear Secretary Mattis and Secretary Pompeo,

We write to express our grave concern that the Trump Administration is notifying Russia that the United States intends to unilaterally withdraw from the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, without any notice to or consultation with Congress, even as our committees had requested a briefing on these issues.  If this action is taken, it would risk an arms race, would jeopardize the security of our allies in Europe and Asia, and would significantly undermine U.S. leadership on arms control.

The precipitous step of President Trump’s intent to notify Russia of the US withdrawal from the INF Treaty, which was announced over the weekend, discards the results of the Administration’s own extensive review to determine an appropriate response to Russia’s violation of the Treaty.  Ten months ago, the Administration announced an integrated response that included diplomatic, military, and economic measures.  At the time, we supported this approach and expected to receive details about how the strategy would be executed.  Regrettably, we have not received any information on this effort and are unaware of any significant steps the administration has taken to press Russia to return to compliance with the INF Treaty.

Instead, the Administration is opting for a dangerous approach that threatens a nuclear arms race and abandons effective diplomacy to preserve a vital arms control agreement.  As you know, the INF Treaty, alongside New START Treaty, forms the basis for our strategic relationship with Russia.  These treaties have been crucial tools to help preserve U.S. and European security and reduce the risk of nuclear war with Russia by ensuring mutual transparency and stability of both the U.S. and Russian nuclear stockpiles. They have also provided the framework enabling insight into Russia’s forces and on-site inspections to verify compliance. We will neither support, nor enable, a precipitous course of action that increases the risk of an unconstrained nuclear arms race.

Withdrawing unilaterally from the INF Treaty would play directly into Putin’s hands.  It would benefit Russia, not the United States or its allies.  Russia would be free to expand deployment of its Treaty-violating missile systems without any legal constraint or fear of international condemnation under the Treaty.  And Russia will muddy the waters by shifting the blame to the United States for what was until now a clear Russian violation.

In addition, we have seen no validated military requirement for withdrawing from the INF Treaty and deploying INF-range missiles.  There has been no Department of Defense decision on testing or deploying ground-launched INF-range missiles that would require or justify withdrawing from the INF Treaty.  

Withdrawal also risks needlessly dividing the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and further undermining U.S. leadership and reliability as a stable and predictable partner on matters involving European security. Sowing division within NATO will undermine both U.S. and European security.  There has been no effort to take into account the views of our allies and consult with them on this dangerous action.  Instead, three other governments were simply confronted with this decision.  The two most recent NATO Defense Ministerial communiques have stressed the need to bring Russia back into compliance. In its July 2018 Brussels Summit Declaration, NATO countries stated: “The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty has been crucial to Euro-Atlantic security and we remain fully committed to the preservation of this landmark arms control treaty.” The precipitous and rash decision to withdraw from the Treaty directly contradicts the agreed-upon objective to hold Russia accountable for its violation while attempting to preserve the Treaty.

Furthermore, the administration failed to take any effective actions to try to bring Russia back into compliance, including using the dispute resolution mechanism in the INF Treaty, or other diplomatic and economic measures. In an attempt to press the Trump administration to take some meaningful action against Russia that would have held it accountable for violating the INF treaty and might have pressed it back into compliance, the House version of the National Defense Authorization bill for Fiscal Year 2019 required the President to impose sanctions on Russia. Unfortunately, these requirements were dropped from the final bill due mainly to strong opposition from the White House. Given the dire consequences of a nuclear arms race for our national security and that of our European allies, we oppose any unilateral withdrawal from the INF Treaty, and urge a more deliberate and coordinated approach to hold Russia accountable without undermining U.S. security. 

We expect a full explanation of why Congress was not even informed of such a decision, and an explanation of why the administration has chosen to take such precipitous, ill-advised – and potentially reckless -- action, rather than working with our allies to increase pressure on Russia to return to compliance under the Treaty.

In addition, we request that prior to taking any action pertaining to the INF Treaty and the New START Treaty, you provide us answers on the following matters:

  • An assessment of the implications, in terms of the military threat to the United States and its allies in Europe, of Russian deployment of intermediate-range cruise and ballistic missiles without restriction. Would the United States need to pursue additional technologies or programs to offset the additional Russian capabilities? If so, what types of technologies or programs and at what cost?
  • An assessment of the implications, in terms of the military threat to the United States, of Russian deployment of strategic nuclear weapons without restriction and without U.S. right to conduct inspections in the event of New START Treaty expires without an extension.
  • The status of the Administration’s December 2017 announcement of an integrated approach to push Russia back into INF Treaty compliance.
  • Measures short of withdrawal, including economic, military and diplomatic options that would increase pressure on Russia for violating the INF Treaty.
  • The status of all consultations with allies pertaining to the INF Treaty – and U.S. commitment to closely consult with allies on a plan to develop a joint path forward to maintain international security and stability.
  • The Administration’s assessment of the impact that INF Treaty withdrawal and New START expiration could have on the long-term U.S.-Russia strategic stability.

Given the precipitous and unexpected announcement in the past few days of a planned U.S. withdrawal from the INF Treaty, we request that you personally brief our members when we return to Washington, DC the week of November 13.  In the meantime, we request a written response to our questions no later than November 2.


Adam Smith, Ranking Member, House Armed Services Committee

Eliot Engel, Ranking Member, House Foreign Affairs Committee

Gregory Meeks, Ranking Member, House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe and Eurasia