Press Releases

Today, House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith reintroduced H.R. 683, the Military Spouses Equal Treatment Act of 2013, legislation that is designed to ensure equal benefits for all military spouses and equal standing for all military families.  

“Despite the Department of Defense making strides towards equality in the military, there is more that must be done to ensure that the rights of all servicemembers and their spouses are protected, regardless of who they are married to,” said Ranking Member Adam Smith.  “This bill would make sure that servicemembers and veterans with same-sex spouses receive the same benefits as their heterosexual counterparts.  All spouses of those serving in our Armed Services make tremendous sacrifices for our country, and no one should be prevented from receiving hard-earned benefits simply because they are the same sex as their partner.”

Secretary Panetta’s recent efforts to extend some benefits to the same-sex partners of servicemembers is a significant step forward, but the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs remain very limited in what benefits they provide to same-sex spouses.  Some benefits that could not be provided through Secretary Panetta’s regulatory changes include medical and dental care, dependent-rate housing allowances, survivor benefits, cost of living allowances, and protection under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.

The Military Spouses Equal Treatment Act of 2013 fixes this discriminatory practice by changing the definition of “spouse” in the relevant sections in the United States code to read: “an individual shall be considered a ‘spouse’ if the marriage of the individual is valid in the State in which the marriage was entered into or, in the case of a marriage entered into outside any State, if the marriage is valid in the place in which the marriage was entered into and the marriage could have been entered into in a State.”

This change will require the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs to recognize any marriage that has been recognized by a state or the District of Columbia and provide the same benefits to the spouses of all service members.

Link to bill here.
Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09) made the following statement regarding the economy in the President’s State of the Union Address:

“The most pressing challenges our country faces are creating jobs and charting a responsible path towards fiscal security.  This starts with Congress eliminating sequestration, but it also includes passing long-term federal budgets that lift the crippling uncertainty destined to devastate our economy.

“Tonight, the President laid out the right steps to move towards economic certainty by taking a balanced approach of increasing revenues and reducing spending, making it clear that we cannot simply cut our way to prosperity.  As the President highlighted, it is critical that we make investments in education and clean energy, as well as comprehensive reforms to our immigration system that ensures that bright minds and driven workers are coming to our country to expand job opportunities and strengthen the economy.

“The time is now for Congress to make difficult choices and find long-term solutions that provide economic stability and reduce our national deficits.  We must agree to solutions that eliminate the threat of sequestration, and provides the federal government, and the economy, with the certainty they need to move forward.  I will work with the President and my colleagues in Congress to provide new job opportunities and immediate economic growth while finding long-term solutions to our fiscal situation.

The Peace Corps announced that Seattle University ranks fifth nationally among small colleges and universities in terms of alumni currently serving as volunteers.  Washington state also took the number one spot in all three categories of small, medium, and large undergraduate schools with Gonzaga, Western Washington, and the University of Washington having the most alumni currently volunteering in the Peace Corps.

“Congratulations to Seattle University for ranking fifth in the Peace Corps rankings for small colleges and universities,” said Congressman Adam Smith.  “The Peace Corps is a great program that has made a remarkable impact around the world in areas desperately in need of basic services, health care, education facilities, and more.  Volunteers demonstrate the true goodwill spirit of the American people and are an important part of American diplomacy and our international development efforts.  It speaks volumes about Seattle University and other Washington state schools that so many alumni have joined the Peace Corps and made significant contributions to communities across the globe.”

Every year, the Peace Corps ranks Top Colleges based on size of the school.  Small schools have less than 5,000 undergraduates, medium schools have between 5,000 and 15,000 and large schools have over 15,000 undergraduate students.  This year’s rankings are calculated based on Fiscal Year 2012 data.  See the full Peace Corps Press Release here.

House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith (WA-09) released the following statement on the sentencing of Saeed Abedini:

”I condemn the arrest of U.S. citizen Saeed Abedini in Iran and Iran's continued violation of the universal right to freedom of religion. By offering Mr. Abedini’s attorney only one day for his defense, Iran has not provided transparency and fairness in his trial. I support the State Department’s condemnation of Iran’s actions and their call to release Saeed Abedini and respect his human rights. I, along with many of their friends in the Puget Sound region, offer my thoughts and prayers to Saeed, his wife Naghmeh, and their children during this difficult time.”

 House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith (WA-09) released the following statement to commemorate Black History Month:

“As we celebrate Black History Month, we are reminded of the great achievements African-Americans both past and present have made to help shape the fabric of our nation.  Throughout history, African-Americans have been remarkable inventors, philosophers, statesmen, writers, and leaders in our community. While Black History Month inspires us to recognize the vast number of achievements of African-Americans, we should continue to incorporate Black history in our schools’ American history curriculum year-round.  
 
“In the face of our nation’s most disgraceful moments, from slavery to segregation, African-Americans have showed incredible leadership, determination, and commitment in fighting for equality that has benefitted millions of Americans.  We should take the lessons of the past to advance our society beyond the oppression, prejudice, and hate that continues to plague our country. While our nation struggles to solve unemployment rates, bring our public schools to a competitive standard, mend our broken healthcare model, and fix our judiciary system, we must recognize that African-Americans are disproportionately affected when we fail to do so. As a nation, it is critical that we ensure every American, regardless of race, ethnicity, or economic status has an equal opportunity to succeed.”