Press Releases

SEATTLE, WA – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today joined Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and colleagues in sending a letter to Chair of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Lina Khan regarding the recently announced merger between Kroger and Albertsons. The members asked that the FTC investigate the merger between the two supermarket chains for the effect it will have on competition in the market. This comes after Rep. Smith sent a letter on November 3 to Kroger and Albertsons raising his concerns about the merger’s impact on consumers and workers in Washington state.

The members wrote, “Kroger’s proposed acquisition of Albertsons presents several anticompetitive concerns. For consumers, the consolidated grocery chain could offer fewer product choices and higher costs for essential goods. For workers, the acquisition could impair bargaining power for fair wages and safe working conditions in local communities. For small- and medium-sized grocers, this acquisition could diminish their already strained resources and drive up supply costs.”

“Close and skeptical investigation of this transaction is consistent with Section 7 of the Clayton Act, which prohibits any acquisition the effect of which “may be substantially to lessen competition, or to tend to create a monopoly” in “any line of commerce or in any activity affecting commerce.”[38] As indicated, this transaction has the potential to lessen competition in consumer, labor, and supply markets. This transaction could raise prices and limit options for essential goods,” the members continued.

“We are at a critical moment in our country where we have the evidence and the opportunity to address corporate consolidation not only through a consumer-oriented lens, but also through the lens of labor, equity, upstream supply, and small business. Given these concerns, we urge you to closely evaluate the proposed Kroger- Albertsons acquisition to ensure it does not undermine competition,” the members concluded.

The letter was signed by: Adam Smith (WA-09), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), and David Cicilline (RI-01).

A full copy of the letter can be found here.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today released the following statement after Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that she will not be returning to House leadership. Speaker Pelosi is stepping down from leadership after leading House Democrats for 19 years and serving as Speaker of the House for four terms.

“Speaker Pelosi’s courageous and fearless leadership has made a tremendous impact in the halls of Congress, the United States, and across the world. As the first woman to be elected Speaker, Nancy has made history and leaves behind a legacy as a champion for American progress. It has been inspiring to watch her lead our caucus and I am honored to call her a friend.  

“Every significant legislative accomplishment over the last two decades was made possible by Nancy’s steady leadership and relentless commitment to doing what’s right for the American people. From the Affordable Care Act to the recent passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, Nancy has been the one constant figure leading us in passing legislation to create a more prosperous country for future generations. Throughout our time working together, I would often find myself in awe at the unrelenting breakneck pace that Nancy worked to successfully guide our caucus and support our members. I will always appreciate the faith and trust she placed in me, especially in my role leading the Armed Services Committee. 

“Nancy was a uniquely effective and committed leader, and her departure will be deeply felt. We are all better off for her lifetime of service to the American people.”

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SEATTLE, WA – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today sent a letter to Albertsons CEO Mr. Sankaran and Kroger Chairman and CEO Mr. McMullen regarding the recently announced merger between the two supermarket chains and the special dividend included in the merger agreement. In the letter, Rep. Smith outlines his concerns about the impact this merger will have on consumers and workers in Washington state.
 
“At a time when grocery prices have increased, further consolidation in a market that is already highly concentrated raises serious concerns. I believe it is imperative that ample time is given to investigate the effects this merger may have on consumer prices, food access for consumers, and wages and employment for workers,” wrote Rep. Smith.
 
Rep. Smith continued, “Albertsons employs thousands of workers who have raised reasonable fears that the dividend payment will lead to accelerated store closures and layoffs. The $4 billion payment represents approximately a third of Albertsons’ market capitalization that could be put into worker wages and store improvements to keep the chain competitive. I am particularly worried about the pressure that places on local stores to lower wages and slash benefits for workers.”
 
Rep. Smith concluded, “I represent a district with a high concentration of Albertsons and Kroger stores. In several neighborhoods, the two chains are each other’s biggest competitors. The merger process may be substantially disruptive to many of my constituents. I firmly believe that this merger should be fully reviewed prior to any major shareholder payout.”
 
A full copy of the letter can be found here.
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today issued the following statement after introducing the Community and Technical College Investment Act, which would eliminate the cost of community and technical schools for students across the country. The Community and Technical College Investment Act would provide funding for states to implement tuition-free community and technical schools and establish and expand wraparound support services to help reduce financial barriers that prevent some students from enrolling in and completing these programs.

“Community and technical colleges offer a pathway to good-paying jobs, but the barriers to obtaining these degrees and credentials has grown in recent decades. The bill I’m introducing today - the Community and Technical College Investment Act - would expand access to these programs by providing states with funding to be able to offer tuition-free community and technical college. The bill would also establish and expand wraparound support services, including housing, food, and transportation services, that are critical to enabling students to complete their programs. Everyone across the country should have the ability to pursue educational opportunities and job training programs without being burdened by debt. The Community and Technical College Investment Act would help make this vision a reality.”

The Community and Technical College Investment Act is endorsed by several organizations, including the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, Renton Technical College, Highline College, and Seattle Colleges.

See below for statements of support for the Community and Technical College Investment Act.

“Congressman Smith’s proposal to offer tuition-free community college would be a game changer for Washington state. Our 34 community and technical colleges serve people of all ages and backgrounds right in their local communities, providing the education and training that leads to well-paying jobs, career mobility and university study. Whether students are 16 or 60, urban or rural, just out of high school or working adults, our colleges prepare them for the next step up in life. Students can choose from variety of options that fit them best– whether they want an industry certificate, a degree, or training in the skilled trades – and we’ll support them all the way.” - Paul Francis, Executive Director, SBCTC

“This legislation could make the difference that allows a student at Renton Technical College or another two-year college to finish their programs. Reducing barriers to education, especially for historically marginalized communities-- it changes lives and helps meet workforce and industry needs.” - Yoshiko Harden, President, Renton Technical College

“By addressing challenges of tuition, support services and the true cost of higher education, this legislation helps our colleges to be truly student-ready. It empowers colleges like ours to channel our energy toward equitable completion of pathways to mobility, creating new futures for our students and for economic sustainability in our communities.” - Dr. John R. Mosby, President, Highline College

“Extending the promise of a college education and career opportunity to all Washington students, particularly students of color, underserved youth, and first-generation college students, will change lives, families, and communities. I’m a first-hand witness to this change. I’ve seen the success. I’ve felt the culture change in Seattle with my 10-plus years of involvement in the 13th year and Seattle Promise program. Congressman Adam Smith’s proposal for tuition-free community college with wrap-around services will greatly expand pathways for career and academic success for students of all backgrounds as they pursue their goals.” - Dr. Rosie Rimando-Chareunsap, Acting Chancellor, Seattle Colleges

Background

The Community and Technical College Investment Act would enable states to offer tuition-free community and technical college and expanded wraparound support services. The bill would:

  • Create a new grant program within the Department of Education to provide states funding to implement tuition-free community and technical schools, focused on serving the highest-need students.
  • Provide funding to states to establish and expand wraparound support services that support disadvantaged students in need of assistance with housing, food, transportation, or other non-tuition related costs.
  • Establish an emergency grant fund program that can provide students attending public higher education institutions with emergency cash to help cover the loss of employment, childcare, housing, or other challenge that threatens to disrupt the ability of the student to complete their program.
  • Require states to evaluate gaps and opportunities in the State workforce, higher-education, childcare, and human services systems and better maximize Federal and State resources to increase economic mobility and postsecondary credential attainment.
A fact sheet of the bill can be found here.
The full text of the bill can be found here.
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.) recently introduced the Behavioral Health Crisis Care Centers Act, which would provide access to funding for states, cities and counties, and tribal governments to build, operate, and expand one-stop crisis care centers. One-stop behavioral health crisis care centers provide critical crisis stabilization services and wraparound services to individuals experiencing a mental health or behavioral health crisis. Organizations working at the local and federal level have voiced their support for the Behavioral Health Crisis Care Centers Act.

See below for statements of support for the Behavioral Health Crisis Care Centers Act.

“Over the past decade, the City of Seattle’s support of behavioral health services has grown dramatically due to greater awareness of how to serve people with mental health needs. We strive to provide individuals with holistic care, rather than sending them to hospitals or prisons. This movement has led to a growing need for organizations that can provide this type of care. Locally, we are working to coordinate our efforts with King County to increase the capacity and number of these centers, including through the County’s Mental Illness and Drug Dependency tax. However, we face a severe shortage of available centers and beds in Seattle for those in need.

"Congressman Smith’s legislation will fill this critical gap by funding behavioral health crisis care centers. These centers are increasingly recognized as an alternative approach to help those in crisis. Building upon the model of the Downtown Emergency Services Center in Seattle, they provide not only a safe physical location for individuals, but also wraparound services to address their physical and mental health conditions and other needs. Critically, they also allow individuals to remain in their communities—deepening their sense of stability, allowing them to put down roots, and helping them heal through the support and care of their neighbors.” - Mayor Bruce Harrell, City of Seattle

Read the full letter of support from Mayor Bruce Harrell here.

“We appreciate Representative Smith’s critical leadership in mustering much-needed federal support for local behavioral health crisis care systems, which, ideally, can act as one-stop centers to connect people with the service providers they need. His Behavioral Health Crisis Care Centers Act could help to ensure that people experiencing homelessness are prioritized for housing and the services they need to stay safely and securely housed.” - National Alliance to End Homelessness

“I applaud Congressman Smith for his continued advocacy to ensure local governments and community organizations have the tools and necessary funding to address the growing and intertwined housing insecurity and behavioral health needs of people in our region. If we are to be successful in significantly reducing homelessness and supporting our community members who are struggling with complex behavioral health and substance use disorders, we must ensure there are robust, easily accessible and equitable systems in place to respond to individuals in crisis. Congressman Smith’s Behavioral Health Crisis Care Centers Act would create programs to support proactive outreach to high needs populations and tenants of subsidized housing programs - including those operated by KCHA - who research shows are more likely to have behavioral health conditions than the broader population. The capacity to scale up flexible, community-driven, cross-sector programming is exactly what we need to fully support each individual living in our housing and across our region.” - Robin Walls, Executive Director, King County Housing Authority

“As we all work to address the crisis of homelessness, housing insecurity, and systemic inequities, we have to focus on the needs of individuals. I truly appreciate the Congressman putting a focus on Behavioral Health Care. Crisis services and centers are integral in supporting individuals, in both short and long-term crisis situations. Typically, people that access these services and centers most are those with chronic needs, so we appreciate all efforts to allocate funds between chronic and one-time needs. This investment will be useful in supporting high needs and mitigating a one-time crisis turning into a chronic support need. All in all, the system is deeply lacking and this investment will help with long term stability for people in crisis.” - April Black, Executive Director, Tacoma Housing Authority

“The Seattle Housing Authority applauds Representative Smith for introducing this legislation to address the increasing behavioral health needs that are impacting so many people. We have seen firsthand the impact the pandemic has had on our residents. We make every effort to connect people to help so we can keep them housed safely but the current system is overburdened and does not have the resources to provide response and care for the growing number of people in serious crisis. This legislation would provide a relief valve for those in crisis and that is something that is needed. We are very appreciative of Congressman Smith’s recognition of this deeply concerning situation and his action to expand options for treatment.” - Rod Brandon, Executive Director, Seattle Housing Authority

“Every day, our staff and clients are faced with the realities of an underfunded, over-capacity behavioral health system. The Behavioral Health Crisis Center Act would change this reality by creating therapeutic, compassionate settings where our young people and other community members can receive the holistic services needed to heal. We are deeply grateful to Congressman Smith for proposing this bill.” - Jessie Friedman, Director of Public Policy, YouthCare

“Although the dedicated clinicians of Valley Cities provide excellent evidence-based services to our clients, there is a substantial unmet need when it comes to mental health and substance use care, far more so than physical health care needs. More than 2 in 5 Americans (42%) report needing mental health care over the past 12 months and about 1 in 4 (24%) report needing substance use care during that timeframe. More than 2 in 5 Americans who needed mental health care (43%) or substance use care (43%) in the past 12 months did not receive it, compared to only about 1 in 5 of those who needed primary care (21%) and did not receive it. The majority of those who did not get needed mental health or substance use care experienced negative impacts as a result, especially related to personal relationships, work, mental wellbeing and some increased use of alcohol and other drugs to cope. More than a third of Americans who did not get needed mental health care in the past 12 months (37%) say cost related issues (i.e., no insurance, out of pocket costs) prevented them from getting care. The Behavioral Health Crisis Care Centers Act would do much to help mitigate this crisis.” - Shekh Ali, CEO, Valley Cities

More information about the Behavioral Health Crisis Care Centers Act can be found here.
 
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