Press Releases

On November 29, 2009, four police officers in Lakewood, Washington were tragically shot and killed as they prepared for the day ahead.  Through later investigation, it was discovered that the perpetrator that murdered the policemen was a convicted felon on parole, and that information was not effectively transmitted to the necessary authorities.  

Representatives Adam Smith (WA-09) and Dave Reichert (WA-08) introduced, H.R. 817, the Department of Justice (DOJ) Global Advisory Committee (GAC) Authorization Act to improve information sharing between all local, state, and federal law enforcement across the country.

“As a former cop and sheriff, I know that the more information law enforcement agents have, the better they can do their jobs,” said Reichert, the former Sheriff of King County who served 33 years in law enforcement, “This bill will improve communication among members of law enforcement and enhance the security of communities across the country. When the lives of cops and citizens are at stake, law enforcement officers must have all available information at their disposal so that they may effectively serve and protect the well-being of those citizens who count on them every day and to safeguard their colleagues.”

This legislation would continue to provide technical and financial support for GAC. Additionally, the bill would require that the Attorney General (AG) reviews information sharing between state, local, and federal law enforcement agencies and issue a report to Congress highlighting GAC’s review and recommendations to improve data interoperability and information sharing policies.

“Concerns about public safety have come under the national spotlight in recent months,” said Congressman Adam Smith.  “This legislation would help enhance information sharing between all levels of law enforcement, which can only help improve law enforcement officials’ ability to keep our communities safe.”

GAC, which consists of over 30 representatives from law enforcement and criminal justice organizations, was established in 1998 and advises the AG on how to improve best practices and information sharing within the law enforcement community.  The committee provides a forum to discuss strategies and potential solutions to keep our communities safe.

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Today, as the implementation of sequestration grows closer, House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith will introduce the Sequestration Relief Act of 2013. The bill is a responsible approach designed to eliminate sequestration and implement an alternative spending plan that is designed to provide certainty to our economy, the Department of Defense, and the entire federal government.
 
“Cuts through sequestration were intentionally designed to be so unacceptable and so damaging to national security and the economy, that Congress would be forced to take serious action to reduce the deficit,” said Ranking Member Smith.  “Unfortunately, that threat failed to produce a comprehensive, balanced solution to our deficit challenges.  We can no longer rely on this devastating mechanism to compel action. My bill would make a down payment on deficit reduction, dispel some of the economic uncertainty, and remove the threat of sequestration to our economy, the Department of Defense, and the entire federal government.”

The Responsible Solution
 
The legislation introduced by Smith would eliminate the sequester scheduled to take effect on March 1, 2013, and remove the Budget Control Act’s statutory requirement to produce $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction.  The bill would produce $320 billion in spending reductions, one-third of what the March 1 sequester would cut indiscriminately, by incrementally reducing discretionary spending caps over eight years.  Of that $320 billion, $167 billion would be drawn from the defense budget, and the remaining $153 billion would come from all other areas of discretionary spending.  Additionally, the bill would suspend the debt limit until February 1, 2017.

“This bill does not deny the fact that we need to make changes to mandatory spending programs and raise new revenues.  We absolutely do.  This alternative plan would ensure that discretionary spending accounts, and the economy, are no longer held hostage while Congress debates the larger revenue increases and mandatory spending changes necessary to move towards fiscal responsibility.  We have a deficit problem that must be addressed, but we should not damage our economy and undermine national security in the process,” said Smith.

Background

 
As a resolution to the failed debt ceiling debate in 2011, Congress created the Budget Control Act, which Smith voted against. The act temporarily raised the debt limit and stipulated that if Congress did not find $1.2 trillion in savings, then a process called sequestration would kick in. Cuts through sequestration were designed to be so damaging to our national defense, the economy, and other important federal programs, that Congress would be forced to act.
 
As a deterrent to inaction, sequestration failed. Congress did not act, yet the devastating mechanism intended to force action remains in-place. As a result, a wide variety of federal programs face crippling uncertainty, including investments in national security, the workforce, transportation infrastructure, education, health care, public safety, housing, innovation, small business development, Medicare, and many other facets of enduring national strength. Over the weekend, the White House released a detailed report outlining the serious implications of sequestration.
Just one day after House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith’s reintroduction of the Military Spouses Equal Treatment Act (MSET), the legislation has received support from several organizations and 43 Members of Congress.  Additionally, today Senator Jeanne Shaheen (NH) and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) introduced a companion bill in the Senate, the Charlie Morgan Military Spouses Equal Treatment Act.  Below are statements of support for MSET.  

Allyson Robinson, executive director of Outserve-SLDN:
“Treating service members equally, without partiality or favoritism, is one of the most basic principles of sound military leadership... Today, we thank Congressman Smith for taking this crucial step to strengthen our military, and we urge his colleagues in both parties and in both houses of Congress to join him and us in this important fight.” Link to Statement

Human Rights Campaign Legislative Director Allison Herwitt:
“Gay and lesbian service members and their families make sacrifices every day.  We owe them the same measure of support that other service members receive.  We commend Congressman Adam Smith for his leadership to address this inequity in federal law.” Link to Blog
Fact Sheet

Lawrence J. Korb, Senior Fellow for the Center for American Progress:
“The Defense of Marriage Act harms our military families and compromises our military readiness. Outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta made clear that there is no room for discrimination in the ranks when he extended a number of benefits to same-sex military spouses earlier this week, and now members of Congress like Rep. Smith and Sens. Gillibrand and Shaheen are adding their voices to the fight for full equality in our country’s armed forces. This is an issue of fairness but—just as importantly—it is an issue of military readiness and it must be addressed promptly.” Link to Statement

Senator Jeanne Shaheen (NH):
“All service members deserve complete recognition  for their service and sacrifice, and that means benefits for them and their loved ones. Right now we don’t have equality in service for LGBT individuals, and I am committed to doing everything to fix that. We’ve made progress, but we’re not done yet and the Charlie Morgan Military Spouses Equal Treatment Act is a needed fix to getting all military families the benefits they have earned.”

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (NY):
“This legislation is an important step forward in achieving full equality for all of our men and women serving and fighting for our nation.  Same-sex partners of military servicemembers should not be denied essential benefits because of who they are. We must ensure that all of our military families who have sacrificed so much have access to the services and treatment they need and deserve.”

Representative Gwen Moore (WI-4):
“As those in the military fight for justice and equality, it is egregious that those they love are denied benefits that they should be entitled to. If a state has recognized marriage for all, then our military should not stand in the way.”

Representative John Garamendi (CA-3):
“Gay and lesbian military personnel serve with equal valor and distinction, and their spouses deserve equal benefits and protections… It’s really that simple. I’m proud to cosponsor Ranking Member Smith’s Military Spouses Equal Treatment Act, and we owe it to our brave men and women in uniform and their families to give this the up or down vote it deserves.”

Representative Mark Pocan (WI-2):
“Supporting our servicemen and women and our veterans also means supporting their spouses and families, whose sacrifices often go unseen and unrecognized. This support should not be contingent on whether a member of our military is gay or straight” Link to Statement

Representative Jim McDermott (WA-7):
“Military spouses take the same risks, pass the same sleepless nights, and give the same critical support, no matter their gender. The least we can do is give their families the dignity and respect of equal benefits.”

Representative Colleen Hanabusa (HI-1):
”We owe every member of our armed forces a tremendous debt for their service, sacrifice, and bravery.  Our commitment to honoring them as outstanding Americans must include recognizing their spouses and families—regardless of sexual orientation.” Link to Statement

Representative Annie Kuster (NH-2):
“Every soldier, sailor, airman, and marine deserves to know that the American people will always support their families, no matter who they love.”

Representative Adam Schiff (CA-28):
“This important legislation would make sure that all service members and their spouses receive the same opportunities, benefits and services. All spouses in the military – regardless of orientation – put up with tremendous hardships, and it’s time we recognize their contribution and sacrifice with true equality.”

Representative Denny Heck (WA-10):
“All families serving at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and all veterans living in the South Puget Sound deserve equal protection under the law. I'm proud to be a co-sponsor of the Military Spouses Equal Treatment Act.”

On February 14, 2013, Congressman Adam Smith reintroduced the Military Spouses Equal Treatment Act (MSET), a bill that would ensure equal benefits for all military spouses and equal standing for all military families. By changing the definition of “spouse” in the relevant sections of the U.S. code, MSET would require the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs to recognize any marriage that has been recognized by a state or the District of Columbia, and provide equal benefits to all spouses.

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Today, House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith reintroduced H.R. 683, the Military Spouses Equal Treatment Act of 2013, legislation that is designed to ensure equal benefits for all military spouses and equal standing for all military families.  

“Despite the Department of Defense making strides towards equality in the military, there is more that must be done to ensure that the rights of all servicemembers and their spouses are protected, regardless of who they are married to,” said Ranking Member Adam Smith.  “This bill would make sure that servicemembers and veterans with same-sex spouses receive the same benefits as their heterosexual counterparts.  All spouses of those serving in our Armed Services make tremendous sacrifices for our country, and no one should be prevented from receiving hard-earned benefits simply because they are the same sex as their partner.”

Secretary Panetta’s recent efforts to extend some benefits to the same-sex partners of servicemembers is a significant step forward, but the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs remain very limited in what benefits they provide to same-sex spouses.  Some benefits that could not be provided through Secretary Panetta’s regulatory changes include medical and dental care, dependent-rate housing allowances, survivor benefits, cost of living allowances, and protection under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.

The Military Spouses Equal Treatment Act of 2013 fixes this discriminatory practice by changing the definition of “spouse” in the relevant sections in the United States code to read: “an individual shall be considered a ‘spouse’ if the marriage of the individual is valid in the State in which the marriage was entered into or, in the case of a marriage entered into outside any State, if the marriage is valid in the place in which the marriage was entered into and the marriage could have been entered into in a State.”

This change will require the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs to recognize any marriage that has been recognized by a state or the District of Columbia and provide the same benefits to the spouses of all service members.

Link to bill here.
Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09) made the following statement regarding the economy in the President’s State of the Union Address:

“The most pressing challenges our country faces are creating jobs and charting a responsible path towards fiscal security.  This starts with Congress eliminating sequestration, but it also includes passing long-term federal budgets that lift the crippling uncertainty destined to devastate our economy.

“Tonight, the President laid out the right steps to move towards economic certainty by taking a balanced approach of increasing revenues and reducing spending, making it clear that we cannot simply cut our way to prosperity.  As the President highlighted, it is critical that we make investments in education and clean energy, as well as comprehensive reforms to our immigration system that ensures that bright minds and driven workers are coming to our country to expand job opportunities and strengthen the economy.

“The time is now for Congress to make difficult choices and find long-term solutions that provide economic stability and reduce our national deficits.  We must agree to solutions that eliminate the threat of sequestration, and provides the federal government, and the economy, with the certainty they need to move forward.  I will work with the President and my colleagues in Congress to provide new job opportunities and immediate economic growth while finding long-term solutions to our fiscal situation.