Washington D.C. – House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith made the following statement on the release of the Chairman’s Mark:
“I would like to thank all the members of the committee – both Republicans and Democrats – as well as staff for all their hard work in drafting this important piece of legislation. The world remains a dangerous place and, historically, this bill has provided a vehicle for congress to put its imprint on national security policy. I look forward to continuing that tradition this year.
“Much of what we do is driven by a true desire to shape and improve our national security policy, but some of what this committee does is also based on politics and parochial interests. As a committee, our goal should be to focus on the former and limit, to the greatest extent possible, the latter. In that vein, the mark released today contains some good provisions, and it contains some very contentious ones.
“For example, the majority is attempting to further its perilous policy of allowing the excessively expensive detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to persist. This is a political position driving bad policy. There is a prohibition on BRAC, which will again force the Department of Defense to maintain and operate costly facilities that it does not need or want. There is a provision that micromanages the Navy’s ability to manage its modernization as it relates to a number of cruisers. Not only is this costly, it also has a real negative effect on our sailors and their families.
“There are also positive elements, such as supporting a pay raise for the troops, supporting our efforts in Iraq, Syria and Ukraine, a bipartisan effort to address acquisition reform, and a variety of other provisions. To be clear, there are positive provisions in this bill, but we have got to make some changes if we are going to get a bill that the President will sign.
“Moving forward, there will be disagreements, but 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.
“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.”