Press Releases

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congressman Adam Smith today released the following statement in honor of National Mentoring Month:

“Mentoring programs play a crucial role in supporting positive outcomes for youth, providing valuable experience in the field, and building supportive relationships that carry on throughout their careers. Programs like these foster new ideas about policies that can expand access to quality mentoring for young people and Congress should continue to increase support for the critical work they do every day.

“One of these programs in Washington’s Ninth District is the Bright Future program—a mentor program established through a partnership between the Washington State Auto Dealers Association, Toyota of Renton owned by the O’Brien Auto Group, Walker’s Subaru/Mazda, Renton School District, Communities in Schools of Renton and Mentoring Works Washington. The program pairs youth from Renton School District with mentors and provides a paid position at a local new car and truck dealership where they participate in a collaborative learning and career exploration experience. This initiative embodies the important aspects of these mentoring programs, giving at-risk youth the opportunity to gain relevant work skills and guidance they need to succeed. The exposure and hands-on experience they gain is invaluable for those in the program and ultimately strengthens the workforce in the district and beyond.

“In honor of National Mentoring Month, I’m a proud co-sponsor of the National Mentoring Month resolution. My staff was pleased to meet with representatives from MENTOR Washington, who shared about their work to provide positive and supportive role models for young people across the state of Washington.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C.Today, Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA) introduced the Voluntary Grazing Permit Retirement Act, legislation to reduce conflicts on federal public lands and increase flexibility for federal grazing permittees.

Livestock grazing on federal public lands can lead to conflicts with other multiple uses that can have impacts on wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities. In many cases, simply removing livestock is the best solution to reduce or resolve these conflicts. However, current law and regulations either do not allow for the retirement of grazing permits or make the process unnecessarily difficult and uncertain.

The voluntary retirement of grazing permits authorized by the Voluntary Grazing Permit Retirement Act (VGPRA) is the most cost-effective and equitable way to address this issue. It would provide grazing permit holders the option to voluntarily waive their permits to graze on federal lands in exchange for market value compensation paid by private parties. The federal agency would then be directed to retire the associated grazing allotment from further grazing activity.

“This is a common-sense solution to provide for smarter management of our public lands to the benefit of the environment, wildlife, and ranchers,” said Congressman Adam Smith. “Voluntary grazing permit retirement has proven to be an effective mechanism for reducing conflicts on public lands. The Voluntary Grazing Permit Retirement Act will ensure this option is available to ranchers across all the Western states.”

Statements of Support

The VGPRA is endorsed by numerous leading environmental, conservation, and wildlife organizations including: Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Defenders of Wildlife, Humane Society Legislative Fund, American Bird Conservancy, Animal Welfare Institute, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Center For Biological Diversity, Wilderness Watch, Humane Society of the United States, The Lands Council, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, Grand Canyon Trust, Predator Defense, Western Watersheds Project, Kettle Range Conservation, and Oregon Natural Desert Association.

Sierra Club

Grazing of private livestock on public lands sometimes creates conditions and conflicts that can only be resolved by removal of the livestock. Existing policies make livestock removal extremely difficult. The Voluntary Grazing Permit Retirement Act (VGPRA) creates a proven, effective, free market-based mechanism to resolve problems when conservation goals and livestock production dynamics clash on our public lands. It is a win-win solution when willing ranchers and private conservation dollars come together to allow permanent grazing retirement. Salmon, sage grouse, wolves, recreationists, ranchers, taxpayers and many more will benefit from the passage of this simple bill that allows for a permanent, common-sense solution to some of the thorniest challenges of our times. The Sierra Club enthusiastically supports Representative Smith's forward-looking approach to public lands management.

Natural Resources Defense Council

The Natural Resources Defense Council believes this legislation has huge upside by eliminating a gaping management hole that has existed for decades, a deficit that has restricted the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service from working with stakeholders and ranchers to more efficiently manage hundreds of millions of acres of public lands.  By providing additional tools for federal land managers, the Voluntary Grazing Permit Retirement Act unlocks opportunities to achieve credible and consensus driven conservation gains that are not currently possible.

Defenders of Wildlife

Voluntary grazing permit retirement has repeatedly proven successful at resolving management conflicts on public lands.  The Voluntary Grazing Permit Retirement Act is a win-win-win for interested grazing permittees, conservation and our public lands.

The Humane Society of the United States

Giving ranchers the opportunity to voluntarily retire some federal public lands from livestock grazing will benefit myriad wildlife species, including grizzly bears, wolves, prairie dogs and wild horses. It will also reduce conflicts between wildlife and livestock. Rep. Adam Smith’s proposal to expand the voluntary grazing permit retirement program to all federal lands managed by the Agriculture and Interior departments in 16 western states is not just smart, it’s fair to all stakeholders.

American Bird Conservancy

The voluntary program established by Rep. Smith’s bill provides a smart solution that can benefit both bird conservation, and ranchers who seek to retire their allotments.  The recent Bird Crisis study showing a loss of three billion birds shows that we need to be doing more, this bill is a good idea that deserves to become law, we strongly support it.

Animal Welfare Institute

Voluntary grazing permit retirement is a straightforward way to eliminate wildlife-livestock and recreation conflicts on public lands. The Voluntary Grazing Permit Retirement Act is an important step in implementing a long overdue solution to this ongoing problem.

Great Old Broads for Wilderness

As we experience an era of increasing drought on many western public lands, it’s an important time to reconsider the unintended impacts of public land grazing and provide options to benefit ranchers, taxpayers, and public lands. The Voluntary Grazing Permit Retirement Act provides a common-sense option that is good for ranchers who willingly choose to retire their grazing permits, just as it benefits American taxpayers and the long-term health of our public lands.

Center For Biological Diversity

This is a common-sense solution that benefits livestock operators and wildlife.  It will help restore the landscape and allow native wildlife to thrive while helping livestock operators ease out of federal grazing. Habitat restoration is a bipartisan issue, so legislators on both sides of the aisle should embrace this legislation.

Wilderness Watch

The Voluntary Grazing Permit Retirement Act can go a long way in resolving the inherent conflict with livestock grazing in our nation’s designated Wildernesses.  It deserves the support of all public officials and citizens who believe in truly wild and natural ecosystems and the opportunity to experience and benefit from them.

The Lands Council

Grazing reform is critically important in preservation of our public lands.  We support Representative Smith’s Voluntary Grazing Permit Retirement Act, it encourages voluntary action and uses administrative measures for mitigating damage and conserving remaining biodiversity on our treasured public lands.  

Humane Society Legislative Fund

Ranchers who own public lands grazing permits own a valuable asset. The Voluntary Grazing Permit Retirement Act will enable these private landowners to realize the capital of their allotments, increasing their choices for managing their land particularly in the face of agricultural market fluctuations. The legislation will also benefit wild animals by restoring ecological functioning in range habitats. We applaud Rep. Adam Smith for championing this innovative, win-win bill.

Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance

Empowering permit-holders to easily retire grazing permits they no longer want will help land management agencies better care for and restore sensitive ecosystems across the West. Treasured national icons, such as Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, have seen difficult-to-resolve conflict over grazing that could be solved through this win-win system, and we commend Rep. Smith for his solutions-oriented approach.  

Grand Canyon Trust

Voluntary grazing permit retirement provides ranchers the freedom to choose a path that suits their families, conservationists a way to protect important landscapes, and federal land managers a strategy to uphold their legal and ethical mandates. The Voluntary Grazing Permit Retirement Act provides a framework within which grazing permittees, conservation organizations, and the federal government can pursue those common goals for our public lands.

Predator Defense

Predator Defense enthusiastically supports the Voluntary Grazing Permit Retirement Act. Grazing permit retirement is a "win win" solution for conflicts between native predators and livestock producers. By retiring grazing allotments, native predators will have "safe" landscapes to live out their lives without fear of shooting, trapping, and poisoning. 

Western Watersheds Project

Voluntary grazing permit retirement is a terrific opportunity to resolve conflicts on public lands that benefits native fish, wildlife and the habitats they depend on.  It is a win-win for the environment and for ranchers looking to transition away from public lands grazing.  We are very grateful to Rep. Smith for introducing this common sense, solution oriented legislation. 

Kettle Range Conservation

Northeast Washington-area ranchers will be well served by this legislation because it will provide them more flexibility in managing their livestock allotment permits.   The public interest will be better served by use of conservation measures that protect critical fish & wildlife habitat and high-use recreation areas.

Oregon Natural Desert Association

Voluntary grazing permit retirement is an effective tool for resolving resource conflict on public lands.

The Voluntary Grazing Permit Retirement Act provides a common-sense framework that will assist in realizing commonly held conservation and restoration goals across the West.

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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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