Press Releases

Congressman Adam Smith released the following statement after opposing, H.R. 5, the Republican bill to reauthorize to Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA):

“Today, House Republicans lost sight of investing in the future of our children by passing an education bill that cuts funding by over $1 billion, eliminates provisions that ensure protections for disadvantaged students, and fails to develop and support our teachers.

“Now is the time to invest in areas like education that will grow and develop our future economy, not restrict and eliminate programs that protect our most disadvantaged students.  We need to fund programs that create a more equitable education system for English Language Learners, at-risk youth, rural students, Native students, and students with disabilities.  We need to provide our children with adequate resources and a prosperous learning environment to advance their education.  True reform will establish realistic goals and adequate performance criteria that stakeholders can agree upon to hold schools accountable for providing every student with a quality education.  Teachers must be equipped with the support and professional development necessary to meet the needs of increasingly diverse classrooms.  Standards should be high, but also attainable and enforceable to ensure our kids are ready to compete in the global economy.
 
“Unfortunately, H.R. 5 does none of this.  It eliminates standards that keep students on a path to graduate and become college and career-ready.   It cuts education funding across the board by over $1 billion below 2012 levels and creates block grants that allow funds to be shifted away from English Language Learners, migrant students, native students, or at risk-students.   Under the bill, after school programs lose funding and social and emotional support programs are eliminated.   The legislation also removes requirements for professional development for teachers and shifts funding support away from teachers in the most at-risk communities.  
 
“We are nearly four years late in reauthorizing our education programs and addressing the negative impact of No Child Left Behind on our schools’ ability to succeed.  However, this legislation does nothing to improve upon existing laws.  Our students deserve better.  I supported an amendment offered by Representative George Miller that included critical investments in education, created realistic goals and standards, and protected programs that help ensure all students can achieve and succeed.”
 

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Congressman Smith released the following statement after interest rates on federally backed Stafford student loans doubled today from 3.4 to 6.8 percent:

“Providing our youth with access to higher education is a necessary investment in the future health and prosperity of our country.  Federally backed student loans offer essential support and provide opportunities for hard-working families and talented students who are struggling to pay for college. At a time when private loan interest rates are increasing and college tuition is skyrocketing, we need to be looking for ways to make college more affordable.  Unfortunately, due to inaction in Congress, federally backed Stafford student loan interest rates doubled today from 3.4 to 6.8 percent.  

“The doubling of the interest rate is estimated to cost an additional $2,600 for each student who takes on these loans. It cannot be our policy to seek a balanced budget by increasing the burden of debt for aspiring college graduates, especially when this year alone the Department of Education expects to take in a profit of $51 billion from interest on student loans.  We need to do better for our students.  I cosponsored legislation offered by Representative Courtney that would extend the 3.4 percent interest rates for another two years.  This would give relief to students, while allowing Congress to focus on reauthorizing the Higher Education Act and pass a long-term financing plan for student loans that families and students can rely on.”


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House Armed Service Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith (WA-09) made the following statement after the House passed legislation improving protections of whistleblowers reporting sexual assault crimes:  
 
“I am pleased to see the House take action to pass legislation that addresses the issue of sexual assault in the military. It is critical that we do all we can to protect those who protect our nation. As demonstrated by the recent incidents of sexual assault, we are not doing enough. The defense bill that passed the House improved how sexual assaults are prosecuted, and the legislation passed yesterday, which reaffirmed the same language as NDAA, shows our commitment to protecting whistleblowers reporting sexual assaults in the military.  There is still more that needs to be done and I will continue to work with my colleagues to improve how we handle sexual assault in our Armed Services.”
 
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Congressman Adam Smith made the following statement after the passage of comprehensive immigration reform in the Senate:

It is time to address our immigration system in a comprehensive way, and the Senate passage of their immigration reform bill is a huge step forward.  The legislation represents a bipartisan commitment to attract skilled workers, innovative minds, and dedicated individuals that will help create jobs, grow the American economy, and enrich the country with new perspectives and cultural diversity.  

As the debate over immigration reform moves forward to the House of Representatives, we must also look to improve our immigration system so that it  creates a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants and keeps families together, while protecting our national priorities.  I will continue to work with organizations and communities in my district to ensure that we fix our broken immigration system in a way that builds our economy and reflects our national values.  

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The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) invalidated Section Four of the Voting Rights Act, a key provision that protects voting rights in nine states that historically have had discriminatory voting practices.  The decision found that Section Four of the law had an outdated formula that placed undue federal burden on the nine states.  Congressman Smith released the following statement after the decision:  
 
“I am very disappointed in the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Voting Rights Act.  In the last election, low income voters and people of color, mainly Hispanic and African Americans, waited in line nearly twice as long as white voters.  It is clear that we must do more, not less, to protect the rights of all people and ensure we have equal access to the polls. The Voting Rights Act has played a critical role in protecting individuals’ right to vote regardless of race, ethnic background, or level of income. By striking Section Four, the Supreme Court limited the federal government’s ability to implement Section Five, consequently rendering this section of the Voting Rights Act powerless and threatening the right to vote for many Americans.  Any state can now implement Voter ID laws and redraw district lines to dilute the voices of large populations of mainly racial and ethnic minorities without federal oversight.
 
“President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act to fix the disenfranchisement of targeted voters - mainly African Americans. Decades since, the Voting Rights Act has been reauthorized and supported by Presidents and Members of Congress of both parties.  To ensure a thriving democracy, Congress must come together again to create a new formula that will ensure all Americans have their voices heard at the ballot box.  I remain committed to doing all I can to ensure that no voter experiences discrimination.”  
 
Even with the striking down of Section Four, Congress can still impose a new formula to determine which states’ voting practices still need federal oversight.  Congressman Smith had previously signed an Amicus brief in support of Section Five of the Voting Rights Act and is a cosponsor of the Voter Empowerment Act.
 

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