Press Releases

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Representatives Adam Smith and Pramila Jayapal, and Senators Patty Murray and Senator Maria Cantwell sent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan a letter regarding the cleanup of the East Waterway at the mouth of the Duwamish River in Washington State. The members voiced their support of the EPA’s decision to pause the release of its Proposed Plan for cleanup and strongly urged additional community engagement measures to address the harmful pollutants and contamination that have severe impacts on human and environmental health.
 
“The completion of a Proposed Plan, and ultimately the issuance of a Record of Decision, is an important step towards cleanup of the East Waterway. We strongly urge the EPA to set cleanup standards to the highest and most protective standards feasible. The Proposed Plan must also be developed with extensive community engagement, especially with frontline impacted communities,” the members wrote. “Further, we urge the EPA to include community input in the final Proposed Plan as those on the frontlines living in this area have a wealth of knowledge about what needs to be done. The community has expressed strong interest in working with you on the plan and we are available to facilitate those conversations if needed.”
                                                       
A century of industrial and commercial activity surrounding the East Waterway has led to high levels of pollutants in the waterway, which has serious implications for the health of the ecosystems and communities in the surrounding area. The predominately low-income communities of color that live around the Duwamish River have been disproportionately burdened by the higher health risks that come along with this contamination. In the letter, the members urged the EPA to approach the cleanup as a matter of environmental justice and equity to adequately address the disparate impacts that this community faces.
 
Community members throughout the Duwamish River face a multitude of environmental and public health challenges, including some of the worst air quality in the Seattle region, disproportionate health impacts, and shorter lifespans than surrounding areas. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these challenges.” The members concluded the letter, “We applaud your focus on environmental justice and equity. We stand ready to work with you to ensure these principles are applied as cleanup plans are developed and advanced for the East Waterway.”

A full copy of the letter can be found here.
 
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SEATTLE, WA – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today issued the following statement in response to the hostage situation that took place at a synagogue in the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas on Saturday. 
 
“Nearly 12 hours after a gunman entered Congregation Beth Israel and took four people hostage during their morning service, the hostages were safely rescued and returned to their families. I extend my thoughts and support to the individuals who had to endure that traumatic experience in their place of worship. I would also like to thank the incredible state, local, and federal law enforcement agents – including the FBI negotiators – who resolved the situation and likely saved the lives of the individuals taken hostage yesterday.
 
“Yesterday’s hostage situation is an unfortunate reminder of the antisemitism that persists in the United States and around the world, and the risk of attack that synagogues face. These attacks must be forcefully condemned as the targeted acts of hatred and violence that they are. In the face of this hatred, we must come together and stand in solidarity with the Jewish community in Texas and across the country.”
 
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WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Representatives Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Katie Porter (D-Calif.), and Cori Bush (D-Mo.) led 48 members of the House in urging the leadership of the Senate and House Committees on Appropriations to set aside robust federal funding for the creation and expansion of alternative crisis response teams to address mental health and substance abuse issues.

“Encouraging the use of behavioral health professionals to respond to mental health crisis situations improves the quality of crisis response and strengthens public safety by providing long term solutions to mental health and substance abuse issues,” the members wrote. “We have already seen significant progress that bolsters public safety in cities that have piloted unarmed responder units.” The members continued, “These initiatives have a demonstrated track record of not only providing more appropriate care to meet the needs of communities, but also reducing unnecessary interactions between police and community members.  The overwhelming majority of 911 calls involve mental health and substance use incidents, neighbor disputes, nuisance complaints, and requests for wellness checks that require appropriately trained, unarmed behavioral health professionals. Both the police and policing reform advocates often assert that specialized service providers—such as social workers, paramedics, and peer support counselors—are better equipped to handle such situations than armed officers.
 
Establishing crisis response teams requires significant funding to cover the costs of training, retaining, and equipping these teams. State and local governments need federal assistance to help cover these costs. Federal funding will help to ensure that these programs are able to get off the ground and make a positive impact on the health and safety of communities across the country.
 
The members urged their colleagues on the Committee on Appropriations to include substantial funding more in line with the House-passed level of funding of $100 million for crisis response teams in the final conference agreement they are preparing.
 
The members concluded the letter, “At a time when many people in our communities are facing mental health, economic, and personal difficulties, it is critical that we make investments in public safety programs that center mental health care and work to resolve the underlying conditions of so many emergency calls—homelessness, substance abuse, and other chronic health issues. Existing 911 response limited to police, fire, or EMT services have been overwhelmed and simply do not meet the needs of the communities they serve. A focus on a wholistic public safety approach centered on the needs of communities is long overdue.
 
A full copy of the letter can be found here.
 
The letter was signed by Representatives Karen Bass (D-Calif.), Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.),  Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), Anthony G. Brown, (D-Md.), Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.), André Carson (D-Ind.), Sean Casten (D-Ill.), Judy Chu (D-Calif.), Yvette D. Clarke (D-N.Y.), Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.), Jason Crow (D-Colo.), Danny K. Davis (D-Ill.), Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.), Peter A. DeFazio (D-Ore.), Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.), Dwight Evans (D-Pa.), Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), Jesús G. "Chuy" García (D-Ill.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.), Kaiali‘i Kahele (D-Hawaii), Robin Kelly (D-Ill.), Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Andy Levin (D-Mich.), Mike Levin (D-Calif.), Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), Lucy McBath (D-Ga.), Gregory W. Meeks (D-N.Y.), Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), Grace F. Napolitano (D-Calif.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Dean Phillips (D-Minn.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), Michael F.Q. San Nicolas (D-Guam), Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Pa.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), Marilyn Strickland (D-Wash.), Mike Thompson (D-Calif.), Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Marc Veasey (D-Texas), Nydia M. Velázquez (D-N.Y.), and Nikema Williams (D-Ga.).
 
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SEATTLE, WA – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today issued the following statement on the first anniversary of the Insurrection of the U.S. Capitol during Congress’ proceedings to certify the 2020 general election results on January 6, 2021.
 
“One year ago, pro-Trump extremists attacked the United States Capitol, a criminal act that threatened to end our democracy as we know it. Today we once again mourn those Capitol police officers who lost their lives because of this attack. Thanks to the bravery of these officers, and all the members of the Capitol police who put their lives on the line to protect the Capitol, Congress faithfully performed our constitutional obligation to certify the election result and as a result our democracy lives on.
 
“One year later, more than 700 individuals who participated in the attack have been arrested and charged for their crimes. While former President Trump and his enablers are directly responsible for inciting and encouraging the attack on our Capitol, it is important that those who carried out the attack are held responsible. I strongly support the ongoing efforts to prosecute more of these individuals for their crimes.
 
“While the courts continue to hold these individuals directly accountable, the Select Committee on the Jan. 6 Attack on the United States Capitol continues their ongoing work to hold Trump and others who helped enable the attack accountable. This is incredibly important work in the broader efforts to protect the United States from those who do not believe in democracy and only care about power. Sadly, many of my Republican colleagues continue to lie about the legitimacy of the 2020 election, and across the country Republican-controlled state legislatures continue to pass laws that gut voting rights. Together, these actions by Republicans pose a significant threat to the health and stability of our democracy.
 
“As we reflect on the events of January 6, 2021, Democrats in Congress must recommit to taking action to strengthen our democracy and make sure an event like the insurrection never occurs again. That means, first and foremost, passing the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. Protecting the right to vote and the integrity of our elections is of the utmost importance. If passing these bills requires filibuster reform in the Senate, then the time for reform is now. There is simply too much at stake to risk inaction.” 
 
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SEATTLE, WA – Today, Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.) sent Secretary of Treasury Janet L. Yellen and Acting Comptroller Michael J. Hsu a letter urging the Treasury Department (the Department) and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) to address the lack of banking access for money service businesses (MSBs) and take steps to support a state-level initiative in Washington State to get community and regional banks to serve MSBs.
 
“Many MSBs in Washington and across the country, especially those serving certain higher risk foreign countries, have been unable to obtain banking services,” wrote Representative Smith. “The lack of a bank account has a negative impact on the MSB’s long-term viability and their ability to serve consumers and presents a safety and security issue. Unbanked MSBs that have been forced to store large amounts of cash in their premises have become victims of armed robberies. These challenges disproportionately affect immigrant communities and communities of color. A study by The Right to be Banked Campaign showed that twenty-five percent of licensed MSBs in Washington State are unbanked and most of these businesses are owned by people of color. The lack of banking access also presents a barrier to federal relief – unbanked MSBs were unable to access the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and other federal assistance programs throughout the COVID-19 pandemic due to not having a banking relationship.”
 
Money service businesses (MSBs) make it possible for people in the Puget Sound and across the United States to send money to family and loved ones in other countries. These remittances serve as a lifeline for countless people and can help alleviate poverty, especially in developing countries. Unfortunately, many MSBs – primarily those that serve countries that are perceived to be higher risk – have been unable to gain access to the banking services that make it possible to transmit money abroad. 
 
In his letter, Representative Smith urges the Treasury Department to collaborate with Washington stakeholders to develop creative solutions to address the ongoing MSB banking access crisis. The letter comes as the Treasury Department is set to develop a strategy to combat ‘de-risking’ by banks, one of the primary practices that has led to banks not serving MSBs. The Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) – led by Representative Smith – included a provision requiring the Treasury Department to undertake a comprehensive review of, and develop a strategy to, combat de-risking and its adverse consequences.   
 
Representative Smith concluded the letter, “I applaud President Biden and the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to advancing racial equity and strengthening underserved communities, including improved access to the financial sector. Taking immediate steps to alleviate de-risking and unbanked MSBs, the vast majority of whom are owned by people of color and supporting communities of color, fits directly into this mission. Washington state would be a perfect place to begin fixing this problem facing our communities.”
 
A full copy of the letter can be found here.
 
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