Press Releases

Congressman Smith Statement on Passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act

Washington D.C. – Congressman Smith released the following statement on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act:

December 3, 2015

I am pleased that the House passed a bipartisan reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) that replaces the flawed policies of No Child Left Behind (NCLB). I voted for S. 1177, the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA) because reauthorizing the ESEA is the most important action Congress can take to fix the flawed NCLB law. The ESEA technically expired on September 30th of 2007, yet until now Congress had failed to pass a new reauthorization, resulting in devastating impacts on our schools’ ability to succeed. 

NCLB placed unreasonable standards on students, teachers, and administrators, and led to award-winning schools being labeled as failing. The consequences of NCLB have been felt directly in Washington state where, since the 2014 loss of a U.S. Department of Education waiver, 88 percent of schools have been deemed to be failing under NCLB standards, even when that is clearly not the case. The new ESSA law ends the need for waivers for states and replaces the one-size-fits-all approach of NCLB’s federal accountability system by shifting authority for academic standards and school accountability back to states and local school districts.

The bipartisan ESSA conference agreement passed by the House includes aspects that are important to our region, including federal dollars to support locally-tailored improvement in the highest-need schools. The bill also authorizes the Student Support and Academic Enrichment grant program that allocates federal funds based on need, population, as well as school district-identified opportunity gaps in to keep students safe and healthy students, promote well rounded education opportunities such as foreign language and STEM and encourage the effective use of technology in schools. Further, this education legislation improves the Migrant Education Program to prioritize services for migrant students who have dropped out of school. ESSA is a much needed step towards promoting fair and equal access to quality public education and helps reduce disparities between students.

Since it was first enacted in 1965, the ESEA has played a key role in providing equal access to quality public education and helping to reduce educational inequalities. Significant work still remains to ensure that all of our students, regardless of where they live, receive high-quality instruction, and I remain committed to working with my colleagues to support students throughout our country.

Ranking Member Adam Smith Statement on Secretary Carter’s Announcement to Open All Combat Positions to Women

Washington D.C. – House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith released the following statement on the announcement that Secretary Carter will allow for all military positions to be open to women:

December 3, 2015

“I applaud Secretary of Defense Ash Carter for taking action on policy guidelines that close certain combat occupations to women. As a result of these changes, anyone, regardless of gender, who can meet operationally relevant standards, will have the opportunity to serve in any position in the Armed Forces of the United States.

Prior to today’s announcement, certain exceptions allowed for women to be barred from various combat roles in the military. This critical step towards allowing women to serve in all levels of our military is a strong move towards achieving full equality in our Armed Forces. Today’s announcement is a response to extensive review by the Department of Defense of policies governing the assignment of women in the Armed Forces. The Department of Defense is opening to women the approximately 213,600 previously closed positions spanning 52 closed military occupational specialties. This announcement follows five years of detailed review of current policies.  

As we saw earlier this year, two women made history as the first female soldiers to complete the Army's Ranger School. Men and woman can, and should, be held to the same standard in the military.  I am a committed supporter of equality. I recognize that there is a lot of work that remains to be done to ensure that all Americans are equal under the law, and will continue to advocate for further review of existing policies that ensure equal rights for all service members.” 

Congressman Smith Statement on Passage of Highway and Public Transit Bill

Washington D.C. – Congressman Smith released the following statement on the passage of the bipartisan conference report of the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act:

December 3, 2015

A well-functioning and efficient surface transportation network is critical for future economic growth.  Investment in our nation's infrastructure and public transit provides jobs for thousands, allows for the efficient movement of goods that keeps our economy growing, and ensures the safety of countless lives.

Today, the House passed H.R. 22, the bipartisan conference report of the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act. H.R. 22 is a long-term five-year extension of the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) that allows for funding of projects to continue through 2020, and authorizes appropriations from the trust fund to continue through FY 2022. This legislation creates a program for nationally significant freight and highway projects that is to be funded through the HTF, while also establishing a national multimodal freight policy to improve efficiency in the movement of goods across all modes of transportation.  In addition, H.R. 22 renews the critically important Export-Import Bank through FY 2019. While the bill provides $281 billion in guaranteed funding for highway, transit, and transportation safety programs over the next five years, $12.8 billion more than provided by the House-passed bill, it includes no new or increased revenues for the HTF.

This reauthorization is not perfect and contains problematic provisions. However, I supported this legislation because it gives our states and the economy the certainty that is crucial to continue funding infrastructure projects around the country. A great deal of federal transportation spending is supported by gas tax revenues that are deposited into the HTF. The tax rates on gasoline and diesel fuel are not adjusted for inflation, have not been increased in more than twenty years, and each year lose buying power to pay for transportation improvements and repairs. H.R. 22 extends existing taxes through 2022, but it does not increase gas tax rates or index them to inflation, and it does not address a coming shortfall in revenues for the HTF.

While this bill is a necessary step forward, Congress and the American people need to have an honest debate about our budget, national finances and tax policies, and investment in critical infrastructure maintenance and improvements. Our nation's transportation system plays a significant role in our economy and quality of life in our communities.  I understand the importance of maintaining and improving highways, roads, bridges, and transit, as well as other types of infrastructure, and I will continue to work in Congress to make responsible investments in these priorities.

Today's global economy is more competitive than ever before.  In order for the US to maintain its competitive edge, we must fully fund infrastructure investments now.  Transportation is an issue that I believe both sides of the aisle can agree on and I look forward to working with my colleagues to fund a reliable, 21st century transportation system that will support economic growth in Washington state and throughout our nation.             

Ranking Member Smith Statement on President Signing 2016 National Defense Authorization Act

Washington D.C. – House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith made the following statement after President Obama signed the revised National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 into law:

November 25, 2015

"Today, the President signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016. Taking into account the terms of the Congressional Budget Agreement passed by the House on October 28th, this version of the National Defense Authorization Act gives the Department of Defense and our troops a predictable budget with which to plan, incorporates needed acquisition reform, and provides for the protection of our national security. Recent acts of terror throughout the world highlight the importance of this bill and the need for predictable funding for our Armed Forces. 

I voted for this revised National Defense Authorization Act. As I made clear then, the revised bill contains problematic provisions. This bill does not address necessary Base Realignment and Closure or personnel reforms. This bill does not close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. I remain concerned with a number of provisions that are now codified into law, but I recognize that the bill is better than the original 2016 National Defense Authorization Act and is essential to providing our troops and the Department of Defense with the certainty they need to plan for the future. 

As we debate upcoming Appropriations bills and begin to work on the 2017 NDAA, it is imperative that the House, Senate and President work together to eliminate sequestration altogether. There is no doubt that sequestration and budget caps have threatened our national security. 

To truly empower our Armed Forces to protect our nation's security, combat terrorist networks, and fight extremism, we must eliminate sequestration and implement a long-term spending plan."

Washington State Leaders: Reject Fear & Panic Surrounding Refugee Resettlement

SEATTLE, WA. — Elected officials and community leaders from across Seattle and Washington State called for on citizens to reject fear and panic following weeks of harmful and discriminatory rhetoric aimed at refugees seeking resettlement in the United States. Citing Washington State’s long history of opening its doors and providing equal opportunity to those seeking a safe haven and a chance at a better life, Washington State leaders urged the community to remember the longstanding history of Washington State serving as a place of refuge, making us one of the most inclusive and diverse states in the country.

November 24, 2015

Washington State Leaders: Reject Fear & Panic Surrounding Refugee Resettlement

“The senseless violence that has recently occurred in Paris and Beirut has understandably made people fearful and afraid. But we as a community cannot let the fear and panic that has recently gripped our political debate blind us from doing what is right. I commend Governor Inslee for seeing past the political gamesmanship and joining a long list of Washington State leaders who have compassionately opened the doors to our state to those escaping hardship and despair. Instead of trying to score cheap political points at the expense of honest and hard working families trying to flee a war zone, we should see it as our personal and social responsibility as a country built by immigrants to welcome and protect them,” said Congressman Jim McDermott.

“We are a state – and a nation – that has always taken the path of promoting freedom and being a beacon of hope and refuge for those fleeing persecution. We’ve hewed to those values even in troubled times, and when we haven’t, we’ve regretted it. We regret that we succumbed to fear. We regret that we lost moorage for who we are as a country. Washington state will continue to promote freedom and be a beacon of hope. We will not succumb to fear or those who try to turn us against those most in need of our help,” said Governor Jay Inslee

“I am proud to join so many in Seattle and across Washington state in our fight to keep our state safe, secure, and free of hate in all of its forms. In Washington state, we understand that immigrants and refugees who come to build better lives for themselves and their families make our state stronger, more vibrant, and more prosperous. We believe that in Washington state, and everywhere, people should be free from hatred and violence no matter where they came from, what their immigration status is, who they love, or where they live. Our country faces serious threats from those who oppose our commitment to openness and tolerance—but we can fight back and do everything possible to keep our families safe without slamming the door on women, children, and families who are fleeing from hatred and violence themselves, and without tossing aside those Washington state and American values that we hold so dear,” said Senator Patty Murray.

“The refugee resettlement program is the most scrutinized path of entry into the United States.  It involves multiple background checks and can take years. We should remain diligent in our refugee screening, but we must not forget that these people are victims of war and unspeakable violence?. Washingtonians have long had the compassion and courage to welcome people escaping violence and extremism from all parts of the world, of all faiths and backgrounds. I ?am working with my colleagues in the Senate to introduce legislation aimed at strengthening security measures in the visa waiver program and equip our immigration offices with better technology to collect biometric data and other information that will help unmask extremist threats to our communities. Since the founding of this great nation, we have welcomed those seeking freedom and liberty.  Now, we must have the strength of a nation created by the diversity and ingenuity of immigrants, and welcome those in need who are granted legal entry to this country,” said Senator Maria Cantwell.

“The terror attacks that have taken place throughout the world in recent weeks highlight the continued challenge we face in the fight against terrorist networks. The international community, and the states of our union, must continue to stand united in our common goal of combating extremism if we are to defeat the terror networks that seek to do us harm. As we fight terrorism we must remember that we are a nation of immigrants, and not let terrorist groups define or change who we are. We cannot let fear cloud our judgement, drive policy or destroy the fabric of what America stands for. Rhetoric that proposes excluding all Muslim refugees feeds the anti-American narrative and empowers ISIS to wrongly paint the American people as anti-Islamic.  During times of controversy, we need to remember that we are a nation that continually strives for equal protection for all. As we face and address terrorist threats, we must stay true to the values enshrined in our Constitution, and remember the phrase on the Great Seal of the United States: out of many, one. Today, we say to the diverse community of Washington state, comprised of many immigrants and refugees: we stand with you. Whether you worship in a mosque, a synagogue, a church, or not at all, you are welcome here,” said Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09).

“Fear is an understandable response to violence and terror. Rather than letting fear drive the way we treat each other, we should undermine terror by living up to American values and helping those feeling violence in Syria and elsewhere throughout the world. Washington state has a long history of welcoming refugees and helping those in need find safety and opportunity for themselves and their families. I am proud to be from a state that recognizes the important contributions that refugees and immigrants make in our communities. I am hopeful that we can continue to lead our country in welcoming people who have lost their homes and are seeking the same things we all want: hope, dignity and opportunity for our families,” said Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02).

“What happened in Paris was a tragedy. But if we start rejecting families fleeing violence because of where they are from or their religious beliefs, we will be going against our values and playing into the hands of the terrorists,” Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (WA-01) said. “We must not let fear or ignorance undermine our country’s long tradition of tolerance, openness and opportunity for all who seek refuge in our borders. The safety of Americans is my top priority but we don’t need to close our doors to Syrian women and children to keep Americans safe.”

“We must do everything in our power to keep Americans safe. Not only would the bill passed by the House have made it harder for desperate women and children to find safety, it would divert law enforcement and intelligence assets away from those who pose the greatest threat to our security, and instead require investigations of people we know pose no risk. While the attacks in Paris are terrible and it’s critical to keep all Americans safe and secure, it is also important in times like these to remember our values and to continue to serve as a beacon of freedom for the world,” said Congressman Derek Kilmer (WA-06).

“After the tragic attacks and loss of life in Paris, it is paramount the cowardly extremists be held accountable for their actions. We must remember however, that the goal of these extremists is to remove us from our founding principles of treating everyone equally under the law, never discriminating on the basis of religion, and welcoming the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” We must be led by our values and refuse to be led by fear and ignorance,” said Congressman Denny Heck (WA-10).

“Seattle remains a welcoming city for refugees fleeing the civil war in Syria,” said Seattle Mayor Ed Murray. “These families are seeking a safe community to raise their children and build a new peaceful, prosperous life. We must continue to live our American values. We remember the words written on the Statue of Liberty, “Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!’”