Washington D.C.House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith (WA-09) made the following statement:

“I would like to thank Chairman McKeon, all members of the House Armed Services Committee and committee staff for their hard work and commitment to bipartisanship in drafting this important piece of legislation.

“Overall, this legislation represents a commitment to meet the threats we face today as well as into the future. It also reflects our strong commitment to ensure that the men and women of our Armed Services receive the benefits and support that they deserve for their faithful service.

“I want thank the Chairman for including language that restates current law as it applies to Habeas Corpus, but we must do more to protect the Constitution. We must use this year’s bill as an opportunity to ensure that any individual detained on U.S. soil under the Authorization of Use of Military Force (AUMF) has access to due process and the federal court system – rights clearly stated in the Constitution. Current law gives the executive branch too much power.  Earlier this year, I introduced legislation to address this issue. I fully intend to push an amendment in the spirit of that legislation, and I urge all members who support the Constitution to support my amendment.

“With the recent anniversary of the death of Osama Bin Laden, I would like to point out specifically that this legislation supports our efforts to confront violent extremism head-on. As we have seen time and time again, our military has the ability to track down violent extremists who wish to do our country harm, regardless of where they reside. A large part of that capability is due to the U.S. Special Operations Command, which is a vital part of our military. This legislation continues to build on previous efforts to support their important work.

“This legislation includes several provisions that recognize the strain nearly 10 years of war has placed on our troops. It supports our troops by providing a 1.7 percent pay raise, extending bonuses and special pay and access to family housing for six months. The bill also addresses procedures and regulations for combating sexual assault. I would like to thank all the members of the committee who have worked diligently to make this issue a priority.

“I am also pleased to see the bill places appropriate conditions on aid to Pakistan. It is imperative that Pakistan support our counterterrorism efforts and work to prevent the interdiction of improvised explosive devices IEDs to Afghanistan.

“The bill also includes a number of provisions that help to support small businesses, such as strengthening small business goals and removing barriers that prevent small businesses from competing for Department of Defense contracts. As we move forward with the markup process and work to support economic growth, I would also like to see the committee correct some of the issues related to our export controls and the negative impact they have on the defense industrial base.

“The bill supports investments in science and technology and increased oversight on development of cyber operations capacities. It also helps protect our allies, with investments in programs such as the Iron Dome to shield Israel from missile attacks.

“While there are many good aspects to this legislation, there are also portions and provisions that concern me. Given the size of our debt and deficit and growing budgetary pressures, I am concerned that the top-line number is roughly $8 billion over the Budget Control Agreement.  Congress made a commitment to get our budget under control, and I fully expect that the Senate will honor the Budget Control Agreement number. We should do the same.

“We should be looking for ways to spend tax payer dollars more wisely and more effectively. Simply spending more money on defense does not make us safer – spending more wisely and more effectively does. So, as the committee seeks to add funding for new programs, we must be sure that those investments do not balloon into budget busting expenses down the line, as we have seen so many times in the past.

“While this mark represents a good start, moving forward there will be disagreements, and we must continue to resolve our disagreements respectfully and with the same outcome in mind: provide our service men and women with the tools and resources they need to do their job and protect national security.

“Again, I applaud the hard work of the members of this committee and committee staff. This committee always lives up to its commitment to bipartisanship and I expect nothing less as we mark up this important piece of legislation.”