Congressman Adam Smith, (D-Wash.) led a group of his colleagues in a letter yesterday to President Bush requesting a meeting to discuss passing effective Export Administration Act (EAA) legislation in the House of Representatives. 

On March 6, the House Armed Services Committee voted to renew the Export Administration Act, H.R. 2581, passed last summer by the House International Relations Committee, but added provisions that will undermine efforts to develop and implement a new and more effective system of national security export controls.

The President and his national security team have endorsed the Export Administration Act of 2001 (H.R. 2581 and S. 149) and urged its swift passage.  In fact, with the administration’s full support, the Senate passed its version of EAA, S. 149, by a vote of 85-14 in the fall.  However, the House International Relations and Armed Services committees this winter have approved different versions of EAA.

Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.), one of the co-chairs of the New Democrat Coalition, has worked hard with his colleagues to change the debate on export controls from a false choice between profits and national security to a matter of improving national security while maintaining U.S. competitiveness.  Smith has been engaged in this issue throughout his service in Congress as a member of the House Armed Services Committee and in 2001, served as a member of a Center for Strategic and International Studies Blue Ribbon Commission on ‘Technology and National Security in a Networked World.’

“The export control regime in place today is grounded in the past and doesn't recognize the realities of today's ‘networked world.’  Many of the nation's leading defense experts recognize the need to fundamentally revamp the way we protect our nation's security,” Smith said. “The bottom line is that export control reform is critical to the future of U.S. global economic, technological and military leadership.” 

“It seems clear that the White House is interested in seeing appropriate export control legislation pass Congress and we are willing and eager to work with them to make that happen,” continued Smith. “I anticipate that they will welcome our interest in moving forward on this in a bipartisan fashion.” 

Smith was joined on the letter by Reps. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.), Cal Dooley (D-Calif.), Jim Moran (D-Va.), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.). 

“We believe a bill resembling the Senate legislation must be enacted and we also believe that such a measure can garner similar bipartisan support in the House.  The versions of EAA that have been reported out of House committees are problematic and do not accomplish the balance that is necessary in order to both heighten national and economic security,” the Members wrote.  “We would like to work cooperatively with your Administration to craft such a bipartisan agreement.”

Today’s letter follows both a Dear Colleague letter sent by Smith, Rep. Ellen Tauscher and Rep. Rick Larsen to the full House Armed Services Committee arguing against the adoption of the Manager’s amendments to EAA and a letter to House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) urging that EAA legislation be brought quickly to the floor with the Senate version permitted as a substitute which was led by Smith and signed by 22 Members of the New Democrat Coalition.

For more information on Congressman Adam Smith’s involvement with Export Controls, visit http://www.house.gov/apps/list/press/wa09_smith/technology/010608pr.html.