Incoming House Armed Services Chairman Lays Down Battle Lines

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Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee walks past the media as he arrives for a closed-door briefing on Syria, Monday, Sept. 9, 2013, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee walks past the media as he arrives for a closed-door briefing on Syria, Monday, Sept. 9, 2013, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Rep. Adam Smith, a Washington Democrat, who is set to take over as House Armed Services Committee (HASC) Chairman in January, has started outlining his plans for battling President Donald Trump and House Republicans on the issues such as the defense budget, border deployments, transgender troops, NATO and nuclear weapons policy.

In a statement last week, Smith criticized what he called the "president's dangerous rhetoric" on asylum seekers on the southern border and opposed extension of the deployment of active duty troops to Jan. 31.

"There is no question that we face a challenge with a rise in the number of people seeking asylum," Smith said. "However, the response should not be deploying troops to our border, but instead increasing resources to process asylum applications, including additional judges and asylum officers."

Also last week, Smith opposed the administration's announced intention to withdraw from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty over alleged Russian violations.

"Setting us on a precipitous course toward withdrawal from this treaty undermines the NATO alliance and trans-Atlantic security, while playing directly into {Russian President Vladimir} Putin's plans to divide us," Smith said.

"The Trump administration should instead work with our allies to take meaningful actions to hold Russia accountable for its violation of the treaty, press Russia back into compliance, and avoid a new arms race," Smith said.

Smith also has issued statements calling the Pentagon and the Trump administration's long-term $1 trillion-plus plan to rebuild and modernize the nation's nuclear arsenal as "unrealistic and unaffordable."

In a Tweet Tuesday, Smith also noted that he would continue to oppose Trump's proposed ban on transgender troops in the military, particularly at a time when the military is facing recruiting shortages.

Smith said that "transgender troops are critical to military readiness. I will continue to fight the President's (proposed ban)," which is now tied up in the courts, Smith said. He added that he would continue to work with advocates and organizations "to ensure our military is inclusive and reflects our country's diversity."

He also has clashed with Republicans on the need to boost funding for the State Department and foreign assistance to enable diplomacy to work first in avoiding conflict, a policy backed by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

Smith, a lawyer and 11-term member of Congress, worked with current HASC Chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry, a Texas Republican, to bolster the current defense budget to $716 billion this year, but he has expressed skepticism of the need for another hike next year.

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.

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