Press Releases

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA) today issued the following statement upon voting for H. J. Res. 76, blocking the DeVos rule that denies debt relief to students defrauded by predatory colleges.

“Students defrauded by predatory, for-profit colleges are often left with devastating amounts of debt for useless degrees and none of the job opportunities they were promised. The 2016 borrower defense rule held these institutions accountable and created a streamlined process to help defrauded borrowers access the relief they desperately need.”

“Secretary DeVos’ new borrower defense rule created a complex process that makes it extremely difficult for defrauded borrowers to seek relief, all while weakening taxpayer protections and letting failed for-profit colleges off the hook.

“Secretary DeVos should be focused on supporting students and taxpayers, not rewarding failed fraudulent institutions. I am proud to support this resolution to restore the 2016 rule, and provide adequate protection and relief for current and future student borrowers.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA) today issued the following statement in response to recent reporting that confirmed the Trump Administration intends to divert an additional $7.2 billion in Department of Defense funding to pay for the border wall.

“We are only two weeks into the new year and already the President is playing politics with our nation’s defense by threatening to steal another $7.2 billion from the Department of Defense to spend on his pointless border wall.  

“The Congress has already provided billions of dollars for border security, including for physical barriers, through the appropriate process.

“Each year we hear from our leaders at the Pentagon that they don’t have enough money. They testify before Congress that any cuts to their funding would be disastrous for our national security. If that is in fact true, then how can the President steal billions more from the Department of Defense without seriously undermining our national security?

“Last year the administration robbed billions from military construction projects – originally requested by the Department of Defense – that would have supported military readiness, quality of life, and deterrence of national security threats abroad. If the White House replicates that tactic again, as has been reported, our service members and their families are the ones who will suffer. That is why I am so concerned about the administration’s plan to divert more funding from the Pentagon to the wall – it is bad policy, bad governing, and bad for our military.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA) today issued the following statement upon voting to appoint managers and transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate.

“Last month, I voted to pass two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump for his abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Today, I voted to transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate. The House has acted to protect and defend our Constitution – now it is time for Senator McConnell and the Senate to uphold their oath of office and conduct a fair and just trial.

“The evidence is clear: the president put his own political interest before the interests of our country. Trump betrayed his oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States” and solicited foreign interference into our elections to benefit his reelection. He defied the public’s trust, abused the power of the presidency, and obstructed Congress’ lawful impeachment inquiry. He must be held accountable.

“Senator McConnell’s pledge to act in “total coordination” with the administration betrays his oath of office and role as Senate Majority Leader. His call for the immediate dismissal of the articles is a confession that he and the President are afraid of more facts coming to light. The people of Washington’s Ninth District deserve a fair trial based on the truth, not a political cover-up.

“No one – not even the president – is above the law. Congress must act to protect the integrity of our democracy and defend our Constitution.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Reps. Ilhan Omar, Pramila Jayapal, Yvette D. Clarke, and Adam Smith led 50 members in a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf requesting that the Trump Administration allow Somali-American families with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to remain safely in the United States.

On March 17th, TPS for approximately 500 Somalis will be due to expire. Although Somalia has made progress in the last decade, conditions in the country are still much too dangerous for people to be forced to return. If TPS is allowed to expire, it will be potentially life-threatening for the people sent back to Somalia.

“The security situation in Somalia remains extremely fraught, with Al-Shabaab continuing to hold large swaths of territory and carrying out attacks against civilians in Mogadishu and other population centers,” the Members wrote. “Many TPS holders have escaped Al-Shabaab and would return to Somalia with targets on their backs. Forcibly returning them is tantamount to a death sentence. In fact, several Somali deportees have been murdered by Al-Shabaab. Somalis belonging to marginalized communities, such as ethnic minorities, women, and girls are at even more risk.”

“It is critical that the Trump Administration re-designate Temporary Protected Status for Somalia before it expires in March,” Rep. Smith said. “Letting TPS expire for Somalia could be potentially life-threatening for TPS holders. Many of these individuals have lived in the U.S. for decades – raising their children here and contributing to our communities in countless ways. It’s time for the Trump Administration to give Somali TPS holders the certainty and stability they deserve.”

“Somali TPS holders – some of whom have lived in the United States for almost three decades – face the agonizing uncertainty of their futures, and the futures of their U.S. citizen children,” Rep. Omar said. “Many Somali TPS holders would be targets if they were forced to return. Holding people in suspense about what could be a matter of life and death is unconscionably cruel. Their extension should be completed as soon as possible.”

“Republican and Democratic administrations have repeatedly granted Temporary Protected Status to Somalia, and the country is still suffering from terrorism, poverty and environmental disaster,” said Rep. Jayapal. “Any departure from this policy would be cruel, inhumane and unjustified. In my own district and throughout America, Somali families are treasured members of our communities, and we should not be tearing them apart and sending them into unsafe conditions. The Trump administration must extend Temporary Protected Status for Somalia without delay.”

“Throughout our history, our great nation has served as a place of refuge and solace for immigrants and it is unsettling that our Somali neighbors and friends could face family separation or a return to unstable or potentially dangerous living situations,” Rep. Clarke said. “This Administration’s attempt to hold the extension of temporary protected status above the heads of Somalis whose livelihoods depend on it is cruel and wrong. We must put politics aside and make decisions that uplift and protect the American people, which includes Somali-American children and their parents whose contributions have made our communities better and stronger and we must protect our immigrant friends and neighbors by extending Somali TPS as soon as we can.”

The full letter is available below:

Dear Acting Secretary Wolf and Secretary Pompeo:

We write to urge you to re-designate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Somalia. While Somalia has seen tremendous progress in the last decade, it is still recovering from almost 30 years of civil conflict. Returning Somali TPS holders to Somalia would put their lives at risk.

The security situation in Somalia remains extremely fraught, with Al-Shabaab continuing to hold large swaths of territory and carrying out attacks against civilians in Mogadishu and other population centers.

Many TPS holders have escaped Al-Shabaab and would return to Somalia with targets on their backs. Forcibly returning them is tantamount to a death sentence. In fact, several Somali deportees have been murdered by Al-Shabaab. Somalis belonging to marginalized communities, such as ethnic minorities, women, and girls are at even more risk.

In addition to the violence in Somalia, there is a pressing humanitarian crisis impacting millions of Somalis. Massive flooding is causing displacement, loss of agriculture and livestock, and lack of clean water. Of the 4.2 million Somalis in need of aid in 2019, 1.5 million face crisis or emergency levels of food insecurity. Roughly 2.6 million are internally displaced. Some 320,000 people were displaced by conflict in 2018—the highest level of conflict-related displacement in four years. By UN estimates, 3 million children are not in school, and one in seven children dies before their fifth birthday.

Many TPS holders are not only supporting their American-born families but also their families in Somalia. Somalis in the United States send $215 million in remittances each year to Somalia to support their families’ basic needs. Somali TPS holders are often their families’ only lifeline. If they were to be deported, the effects would be devastating not only on their own communities here in the United States, but on Somalia as well.

Terminating TPS for Somalia would also have devastating consequences for the American-born children of Somali TPS holders. Parents would be forced to decide either to leave their kids behind or take them back to Somalia to face terrible conditions.

We acknowledge and commend the Somali Central Government for its continuous efforts to improve the economic, political, and security situation in Somalia. It is clear, however, that the conditions are not favorable to the return of TPS holders. In some cases, the removal of Somali TPS-holders would be life-threatening. For this reason, we urge you to re-designate Temporary Protected Status for Somalia.

We look forward to your prompt response.

Sincerely,

Ilhan Omar
Member of Congress

Pramila Jayapal
Member of Congress 

Yvette D. Clarke
Member of Congress 

Adam Smith
Member of Congress 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today issued the following statement after upon House passage of H.R. 535, the PFAS Action Act, to protect families from PFAS “forever chemicals” and designate them as hazardous substances.

“I am proud to support legislation passed in the House today to address dangerous PFAS chemicals that threaten public health and the environment. Communities throughout the state of Washington and across the country are facing the consequences and challenges posed by PFAS from the air we breathe to the water we drink. The bill passed today would ensure regulation of PFAS chemicals, spur much needed cleanup of contamination, and provide critical resources for communities.

“In the National Defense Authorization Act passed last year, I was successful in working with my Democratic colleagues to include the most significant legislative action on PFAS ever signed into law. House Democrats are now fulfilling our promise to build on that success and fight for full, robust protections against these dangerous forever chemicals. While federal agencies have been slow to act, we will continue to work to hold polluters accountable and protect vulnerable populations.”

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