Washington, D.C. – Today, House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA) made the following statement about the President’s defense budget request:
“President Trump has not done his duty to the public in assembling this defense budget request.
“Even though his request would violate the Budget Control Act, the President has presented no plan to solve this problem through the repeal of sequestration, despite his party controlling both houses of Congress and the Presidency. His budget omits long-term planning assumptions that are needed to make sober and strategic choices about national security. He continues to provide poorly substantiated justifications for an unaffordable, unnecessary nuclear weapons build-out. Despite having extra time to prepare because he delivered the budget some three months later than legally required, the President has not given us a solid document on which one can plan for the national defense.
“Moreover, this budget request utterly fails the American people by calling for inconceivably large cuts to domestic programs that keep our country strong, in order to fund massive tax cuts to the wealthy. We will not be safer if we cut programs that keep our population healthy, educated, and prepared to serve in the military. We will not be safer if we kneecap our citizens’ chances for broad-based economic opportunity by cutting basic research, CDC and NIH funding, and the safety net. We will not be safer if we de-fund diplomacy and development, which are often the least expensive methods of achieving our national security objectives. By doing so, we would end up with fewer allies and larger problems in all the places that we fight.
“Failing to present a coherent budget in this way is disrespectful to our men and women in uniform, to the public, and to taxpayers. They do not expect the President—whose first job should be to protect the country—to play budgetary games with our national security. I hope that we can improve on the manifest defects of President Trump’s request as we draft this year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).”
Washington D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith released the following statement in response to the Republican’s hastily introduced health bill:
“I am strongly opposed to the Republican plan to replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as ‘Obamacare.’ This legislation, known as the American Health Care Act (AHCA), introduced earlier this month, would take health insurance away from millions of people, hurt low-income and older Americans, and create considerable uncertainty about health care and insurance.
“I am very concerned about the potential impact of the AHCA. Despite promises made by House Republicans, individuals with pre-existing conditions and others who gained healthcare under the ACA will be at risk of the quality of their coverage being reduced or losing health insurance entirely. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that 14 million more people would be uninsured in just the first year of enactment of the AHCA but that 24 million in total are estimated to lose coverage over the next ten years. Insurance companies would be allowed to charge higher premiums for older Americans as well as those who lapse in coverage. It would cut $170 billion from the Medicare Trust Fund, putting at risk coverage for 57 million Americans. Additionally, the AHCA eliminates the ACA’s Medicaid expansion; which has extended coverage to over 59,000 constituents of the Ninth Congressional District of Washington. Many more individuals could also be negatively impacted if, as many fear, this legislation upends the broader health care and insurance marketplace; leading to higher costs and reduced access to care for all. The Republican plan benefits those who are young, healthy, or those who are wealthy at the sacrifice of those who are not.
“I supported the passage and enactment of the ACA in 2010. It is one of the most important steps taken in many years to reform health care and health insurance, as well as to address serious problems with our health care system. Prior to the enactment of the ACA, health care costs were rapidly increasing, government budgets were straining under health costs, and many patients, including those with pre-existing conditions, were unable to access affordable health coverage. We needed action on these tough issues.
“Repealing the ACA would take us back to a time where millions of Americans were uninsured. The ACA is not perfect and we still have a long way to go to improve our health care system to increase access and bring costs down. I support addressing those provisions of the health care law that are burdensome to individuals and problematic for businesses.
“We should not, however, repeal the entire law or weaken its core tenets. We simply cannot revert to an old health care system that allows costs to increase unchecked, insures too few, and drains our economy while providing us too little in return.
“I will work to ensure that health care remains affordable and accessible to everyone. Eliminating the ACA would hurt the millions of Americans who depend on the many positive aspects of the law and could leave our health care system in a state of disarray and dysfunction. I will do everything in my power as a Member of Congress to protect our most vulnerable citizens and access to affordable and quality health care coverage.”
Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA) released the following statement after the Senate Republicans blocked the Protect Women From Corporate Interference Act:
“I am disappointed that Senate Republicans blocked a vote on the Protect Women From Corporate Interference Act today, which would reverse the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision. The Hobby Lobby ruling set a very dangerous precedent that allows employers to deny health benefits, in this case contraception, to employees based on a company’s beliefs. I believe that health care decisions should be left to the individual, their doctors, and their families; not their employers.
“This legislation, which was introduced by my friend Senator Patty Murray, would make it illegal for a company to deny any worker health benefits that are covered by federal law and would restore the guarantee that women have access to contraceptive coverage through their employer. In light of the Supreme Court ruling, it is critical that both the House and Senate pass this legislation. I am a cosponsor of a companion bill in the House, and will work hard with my colleagues to build support for this bill.”
There is a common misperception that the arrival of unaccompanied minors from Central America to the United States is an immigration problem and a failure of enforcement at our borders. It is not. It is a humanitarian crisis. Our government has the responsibility to reflect our country’s values by treating these children in a humane way as they seek refuge from horrific levels of violence in their home countries. For this reason, I support the supplemental appropriation request to manage this situation.
Our borders are secure as evidenced by the thousands of children that are in the government’s custody. They are being stopped by Customs and Border Patrol and that is the definition of border security. No border security measure can stop people from trying to cross the border to escape violence. This crisis can only be stemmed by addressing the root causes of their migration and helping to improve conditions in their home countries.
These children deserve due process and the full protection that our current laws afford. I oppose simply sending these kids back without consideration of these protections, including asylum. To speed up the review of each child’s case, I support an increase in immigration judges, as well as legal representation that will help children to navigate the legal process. I will fight for these priorities to be implemented as we continue to work on humane solutions to this crisis.
“It is time to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (GTMO). Until it is closed, it will remain a symbol of attempts to avoid the rule of law. While the detainees are treated humanely and in a manner consistent with international law, al-Qaeda continues to evoke GTMO when rallying extremists to its cause. Hunger strikes, health care problems of an aging detainee population, and excessive costs are currently the most visible problems at Guantanamo Bay. Until GTMO is closed, the United States’ moral authority in upholding its values and promoting human rights will continue to suffer. Kenneth Wainstein, a senior national security lawyer at the Department of Justice Office under President George W. Bush, recently summarized GTMO’s status well: “The situation is not sustainable. We need an exit strategy.”
GTMO was never a good idea. It is an even worse idea now. Let’s start the process to close GTMO now.
Washington D.C. – As the House considers the Fiscal Year 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (FY2015 NDAA), House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith will offer an amendment designed to provide an effective strategy to close the detention facility located at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (GTMO). The plan lays out six key steps to close the facility, including the removal of the unnecessary transfer and construction restrictions, which have provoked a veto threat from the White House.
“As the number of detainees held at the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, continues to shrink, the cost to taxpayers will only continue to grow,” said Ranking Member Smith. “This growing cost, coupled with the ongoing damage to our national security and moral standing in the world, underscores the necessity to close this international eyesore.”
“The Republican unwillingness to budge on provisions related to GTMO has now placed the bill at risk. It is becoming more likely that the White House will veto the National Defense Authorization Act in direct response to the GTMO provisions. We should prevent that from happening by adopting my amendment,” continued Smith.
Operating the facility has cost more than $5 billion since 2002. Additionally, with the cost expected to increase in the coming years, we are currently spending approximately $2.7 million per detainee each year at Guantanamo Bay, compared to $78,000 per inmate to hold a convicted terrorist in the most secure federal prison in the United States, the Supermax facility in Colorado.
The plan offered by Smith would not close the facility tomorrow. Rather, it clears the way for a gradual and responsible path forward.
House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member, Congressman Adam Smith, will offer an amendment (text) to the Fiscal Year 2015 National Defense Authorization Act designed to uphold our national values by promoting due process and bolstering civil protections while enhancing public safety and security.
“As we confront threats from violent extremist groups around the world, it is vitally important that the President has every tool and resource he needs to ensure our national security. In doing so, we must also ensure that we do not undermine the civil protections that we cherish so deeply in this country,” said Ranking Member Adam Smith. “Current law provides the President with the authority to indefinitely detain individuals apprehended in the United States – including citizens of the United States – without due process and with little independent review or oversight. While the President said that he will not utilize this authority, future administrations might and it is a frightening amount of power to leave on the books.”
The amendment would eliminate indefinite military detention of individuals detained in the United States, its territories, or possessions under the Authorization of Military Force (AUMF), by providing for immediate transfer to trial and proceedings by a court established under Article III of the U.S. Constitution or by an appropriate state court. The bill would also repeal the provision in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 that requires mandatory military custody of certain individuals captured pursuant to the AUMF.
“My amendment would leverage some of our strongest assets in trying suspected terrorists: Article III courts and domestic law enforcement. Federal courts have a proven track record of success: Over 400 defendants charged with crimes related to international terrorism have been successfully convicted in the United States since 9/11. We should build on this success, not undermine it.”
Today, Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA) introduced the Accountability in Immigration Detention Act, legislation that aims to improve standards and living conditions in detention centers across the country. This comes after detainees in Tacoma went on a nearly two-month hunger strike at the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC) over access to nutritious food, isolation practices, treatment by guards, and other living conditions.
“After visiting the NWDC to speak with detainees on hunger strike, it was clear that more enforceable standards were necessary,” said Rep. Adam Smith. “Many detainees are fathers and mothers who have committed no crime, yet are being held in unacceptable conditions for a prolonged period of time. This legislation is focused on improving living conditions for detainees and increasing oversight and transparency of the treatment of detainees.”
Currently, all standards at detention facilities are created and enforced by ICE. Smith’s legislation would change federal law to ensure that detention center standards are federally regulated and created by a rulemaking committee that includes stakeholders like organizations that advocate for undocumented immigrants, local governments, medical experts, and more.
In a statement, #Not1More said “We applaud Rep. Adam Smith’s response to the peaceful protest by immigrant detainees in Tacoma, WA calling for better treatment at the privately-run facility. His office reached out immediately to us and he visited three of the hunger strikers in late March. During his visit he not only found their demands to be valid, he also promised to introduce legislation to address the demands and the retaliation the hunger strikers faced. Today he delivered on his promise. As part of the campaign to stop deportations and as representatives of those on hunger strike, we thank him for his leadership and courage in creating solutions to these issues.”
The legislation also would require unannounced audits and encourage the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to consider alternatives to detention (ATDs) that provide a more humane alternative for individuals in ICE’s custody. The bill has 7 original cosponsors: Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Jared Polis (D-CO), Mike Quigley (D-IL), Filemon Vela (D-TX), Bill Foster (D-IL), Rick Larsen (D-WA).
“Our state lost a great leader today when Billy Frank Jr. passed away. Billy never stopped fighting for the rights of Washington State’s native people and the health of our natural resources. His life and legacy of work will continue through the ages. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, and all of those who were touched by Billy Frank, Jr.”
Congressman Smith released the following statement in recognition of Equal Pay Day:
“Equal Pay Day serves as a reminder of the discrimination that women face in the workplace. Over 50 years ago the Equal Pay Act became law, but women in the United States still face a significant pay gap. Women make up half of the workforce, yet earn only 77 cents for every dollar that men earn. This disparity exists for all levels of education and occupation.
“This is not just a women’s issue. With women’s wages continuing to make up a growing share of family incomes, pay inequality negatively impacts both children and spouses as well.
“As we recognize Equal Pay Day, it is critical that Congress continues to push for the Paycheck Fairness Act that would fight to end gender-based wage discrimination. Additionally, I commend the President on his recent executive actions promoting equal pay in the federal workforce by banning federal contractors from retaliating against employees for discussing compensation and directing the Secretary of Labor to collect data on compensation paid to federal employees. When women are paid equally for equal work, it benefits us all.”