Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09), Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, made the following statement after the House passed the Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act:
"I want to thank Chairman McKeon, all members of the House of Representatives and staff for their hard work on this important piece of legislation.
"Overall, this bill prioritizes our troops deployed in Afghanistan and around the world by ensuring that they have the tools and resources they need to do their job and protect national security. It also provides our troops and their families with the benefits and support that they deserve, including a 1.6 percent pay increase.
"It continues to make counterterrorism a priority and makes significant investments in all branches of our Armed Services, ensuring that our military is prepared to meet the threats of today as well as the future. It supports our troops as they continue to fight overseas, invests in new technologies for the future, and protects vital military equipment production capacity here at home.
"However, I am troubled by the language throughout the bill that either relies too much on a large and extended combat mission in the case of Afghanistan or, simply, overly confrontational language in the cases of Russia, North Korea, Iran, and China, to name a few.
"In many cases, the only thing preventing me from voting against this bill is the qualifying language. For example, on Afghanistan, the bill requires 68,000 troops through the end of 2014 but then says "if necessary." On Iran, it calls for all avenues to be used including military force, but again, only "if necessary."
"The language on Russia is particularly troubling. Much of the rhetoric during debate on this bill echoed sentiments from 1982, when we were at the height of the Cold War. We are no longer in the Cold War, and we should not be treating Russia like an enemy.
"On North Korea, the confrontational language went so far as to include a study that suggests deploying tactical nuclear weapons to the region. This would be dangerous and reckless and could destabilize the entire region.
"If this were binding language, I would have to vote against this bill. Luckily, it is simply a statement of policy by the majority -- policies that I strongly disagree with.
"Additionally, given the size of our debt and deficit and growing budgetary pressures, I am concerned the bill supports an overall defense budget that is roughly $8 billion over the Budget Control Act. Congress made a commitment to get our budget under control, and I fully expect that the Senate will honor the Budget Control Act number.
"The bill also includes provisions that discriminate against gay and lesbian service members. For years, many members of our Armed Services had to hide who they were to fight for the country they love, and I am strongly opposed to efforts that seek to turn back the clock on the progress we have made in the name of equality.
"The bill also takes a big step back on energy, by ending support for many kinds of alternative fuels which undermine our national security policy. Our nation must decrease, if not eliminate, its reliance on imported fuels and maintain our leadership in this area. China and many other nations are seeking to become leaders in this area, and the committee's actions will set us back and risk our leadership in this arena.
"Again, I supported his bill in its current form because we must support our troops while they are in harm's way. We must ensure that they have the tools and resources they need to ensure national security and accomplish missions we ask of them. However, there is still much more work to be done to address many of the issues with this bill. I look forward to reviewing the Senate's version of this bill and working with my colleagues here in the House to make sure we send the President a final bill that meets the high standards of the United States Armed Services."