Chairman Smith's Testimony Before the House Rules Committee Corrects the Record

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In advance of floor consideration of H.R. 2500, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA) made the following remarks before the House Rules Committee:

“I have an enormous amount of respect for the ranking member, we’ve been doing this for a while Mr. Cole and I, but I very strongly disagree with his opening statement and quite frankly resent certain aspects of it. This committee is bipartisan and we worked in a very bipartisan manner in how we produced this product. If you disagree with the policy that’s fine and we’ll have those discussions in just a minute but to claim that this was a partisan product is just wrong.

“It’s a convenient thing to say so that you don’t have to confront the actual issues that are in the bill but it is not the way we worked. My staff and I worked for months with Republicans on the Committee and off the Committee. We fielded, gosh, hundreds of proposals and hundreds of amendments and in the end, of the proposals that were put forward to our Committee we adopted 53 percent of the ones that were offered by Republicans and 52 percent of the ones that were offered by Democrats. Now Democrats submitted more amendments at the committee level…somewhere in the 250 range…but in the end we adopted almost 150 Republican amendments and about 190 Democratic amendments.

“During the course of the markup and the weeks before then I worked with countless members of the Committee who had objections, most notably Mr. Turner was concerned about a number of provisions that came out of the subcommittee. So, I pulled the staffs together and we went through it and they had about 16 differences of opinion on the nuclear side and we were able to resolve at least half of them by simply having a conversation.

“So, I can assure you that the bipartisan tradition in the Armed Services Committee is being upheld by my side, by me, the members of the committee, and by our staff. There was an article in the newspaper today that was a claim from the Republicans that I hadn’t spoken to Mr. Thornberry since the markup. That’s just not true. I spoke to him on the floor the day after, I called him the weekend afterwards and we had a conversation about how to get there.

“So there seems to be a concerted effort by the people who want to oppose this bill to say, “oh we’re being partisan,” and it just seems like we’ve gotten to the point where if we on the Democratic side produce a bill that they don’t like, it is by definition partisan. That’s not what partisanship is. Partisanship is ignoring the other side, not letting them offer an amendment, not letting them offer ideas. I want to assure you; I and my staff did not do that and to imply otherwise is frankly dishonest.

“I remember being in the minority on this committee. I voted for [the bill] over and over again, even though there were a lot of policies in there that I didn’t agree with and I hope we can get back to the point where that’s the discussion that we have. We work in a bipartisan manner and we agree that while there will be disagreements on the substance of the bill, we have an overarching duty to pass this bill to make sure our troops get their pay raise, to make sure that we build the military construction projects that are out there that they need, that we provide for the defense of this nation, and this bill does that.”

The full Rules Committee hearing can be found here.