Press Releases

“I condemn in the strongest possible terms the terrorist attack in Orlando, the worst mass shooting in United States history. I offer my deepest condolences to the victims and their families. I would like to extend particular sympathies to the LGBTQ community during this unspeakable tragedy.

“As authorities investigate this horrific shooting, America must speak with one voice against gun violence of any kind. We can and must do more to confront the crisis that continues to afflict our country.” 

“Memorial Day is a time to honor the ultimate sacrifice of those who have given their lives in service to our country. Our gratitude extends to our fallen heroes, our veterans, and active duty servicemembers and their families. We owe our servicemembers our deepest level of respect. A true reflection of Memorial Day must reaffirm that America’s commitment to supporting our military men and women does not end when they leave active duty.

“As veterans, the men and women of our armed forces continue to serve their country long after their military service has ended. As teachers, community members and civic leaders, veterans contribute to peace and prosperity at home. On Memorial Day, we must continue to show our gratitude to the servicemembers, veterans, and their families whose contributions continue to protect Americans everyday.” 

Smith Statement Condemning NRA Propaganda Video

Washington D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith released the following statement today in response to the National Rifle Association’s release of a misguided video:

May 25, 2016

“The National Rifle Association’s (NRA) latest video shows how out of touch it is with finding common sense solutions to the issues of the day. In 2013, the year in which the most recent data is available, there were 27,329 deaths involving firearms, with 11,208 of those being homicides. Instead of trying to fix the nationwide health epidemic of shootings, which has resulted in the tragic deaths of far too many Americans, the NRA has turned its misguided aim on Iran. Instead of irresponsibly fanning the flames of war, it should advocate for sensible gun control laws to eliminate the unconscionable and rampant gun violence plaguing our nation. 

“The NRA’s uninformed foray into serious national security issues has the potential to exacerbate tensions in a region already beset by conflict. This xenophobic propaganda makes no attempt at presenting long-term solutions to bring about peace and stability.  Simply put, the NRA should focus its time, energy, and efforts to address the problems it helped create before it mistakenly pretends to be an expert on foreign policy which could potentially result in the deaths of even more Americans. As a country, we must work to limit senseless gun violence, keep our communities safe, and advance constructive approaches to national security issues.”

King Co. Delegation Secures Boost in Local Rental Assistance

Today, the congressional delegation representing Washington’s King County in sending a letter to thank the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for answering their call for increased local rental assistance in 2016 to reflect the region’s rapidly escalating rental costs. The delegation also continued to press for a permanent fix to the inflation formula in the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program, which provides rental assistance to low-income households.

May 24, 2016

Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray joined Reps. DelBene, Jim McDermott, Adam Smith and Dave Reichert in sending a letter to HUD Secretary Julián Castro, following up on their letter from June 2015. The current HCV formula has been particularly damaging in areas with steep increases in rental costs, such as the Puget Sound region. 

“We greatly appreciate HUD’s efforts to address the consequences of this policy for families across the country, including in the Puget Sound region, where our local rental market has seen some of the fastest growing rental costs in the nation,” the letter states. “However, unless HCV inflation factors continue to be aligned with local rental costs, families could be forced to live in neighborhoods that are farther from employment opportunities, with higher levels of poverty and lower performing schools.”

Last June, DelBene led the delegation in calling on HUD to take action after the King County Housing Authority saw a 26 percent increase in rental costs between 2014 and 2015, but did not receive a HCV inflation adjustment due to the flawed formula. For 2016, the agency provided a 12 percent increase to King County to reflect substantial growth in local rental costs, but still hasn’t established a permanent solution to avoid similar problems in the future.

A copy of the signed letter is available HERE, and the full text follows:

Dear Secretary Castro:

We write to express our gratitude for the Department’s improvements to the methodology for determining the renewal funding inflation factors used to allocate Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) funds among Public Housing Authorities (PHAs). In particular, we appreciate HUD’s decision to incorporate two prior years of rental data in determining inflation factors for 2016, addressing the serious unintended consequences of last year’s calculations on areas with rapidly escalating rental costs — including the Puget Sound region in Washington state. We encourage HUD to continue working to establish a permanent solution to ensure the methodology fully captures variability across local rental markets in future years.

Prior to 2012, the HCV renewal funding inflation factors were determined primarily using Consumer Price Index (CPI) data that account for variations in rent and utility inflation among different geographic regions — the same indicators used to calculate the Fair Market Rents (FMR) for areas across the United States. This was a well-reasoned and equitable formula, as PHAs are required to establish the level of subsidies they provide to HCV recipients using the FMR. In 2012, however, HUD updated its methodology to allocate HCV renewal funds among PHAs based on expected changes in the national Per-Unit Cost (PUC) for the HCV program. While this methodology may be effective when the change in PUC is positive, as was the case between 2012 and 2014, it has extraordinarily damaging consequences when the national PUC declines. Between 2014 and 2015, when the expected change in PUC was negative, no area in the nation — regardless of how steeply rental costs climbed — received an inflation factor. 

We greatly appreciate HUD’s efforts to address the consequences of this policy for families across the country, including in the Puget Sound region, where our local rental market has seen some of the fastest growing rental costs in the nation. As we wrote to you on June 19, 2015, the King County Housing Authority saw a 26 percent increase in their neighborhoods’ FMR between 2014 and 2015 — and in 2016, the local FMR rose another 7.6 percent. During such periods of rapidly rising rents, it is imperative the HCV inflation factor be commensurate with local rental costs. That’s why we were pleased to see HUD publish a methodology for 2016 that incorporates regional changes since 2014, providing the King County region with an inflation factor of 12 percent in 2016.

However, unless HCV inflation factors continue to be aligned with local rental costs, families could be forced to live in neighborhoods that are farther from employment opportunities, with higher levels of poverty and lower performing schools. This risks concentrating wealth, increasing racial disparities, and limiting the career and educational opportunities available to lower-income families. To limit such consequences, we encourage HUD to continue incorporating stakeholder feedback and making adjustments to the HCV inflation factor methodology to effectively measure changes in local rental markets going forward.

The HCV program is built on the promise of providing the most vulnerable members of our community with safe, affordable housing, in order to expand access to economic opportunity nationwide. By ensuring the HCV program fully captures variations in local rental markets and awards funding accordingly, we can ensure PHAs have the necessary funding to meet these critical goals. We appreciate your efforts on this matter and we look forward to continuing to work with you to meet the housing needs of low-income families across the country.

Smith Statement on Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Reduction Act and Related Legislation

Congressman Adam Smith released the following statement on the opioid related legislation considered by the House of Representatives:

May 13, 2016

“Our nation is in the midst of a heroin and prescription drug abuse epidemic, resulting in the deaths of thousands, and taking a toll on the health and safety of many Americans and their families. Since 2000, overdose deaths have increased 137% - costing more than 60 lives a day. Congress must act to stem this nation-wide epidemic by investing in prevention, treatment, recovery, and efforts to prevent the smuggling of drugs across our borders. Addiction is a brain disease, and given the medical and technological advancements over the years, we now have a better understanding of the mental and physical aspects of drug abuse; and can work to increase access to recovery services that can turn the tide of this fight. The debate on the House Floor this week should have been much more comprehensive but I support the steps we have taken to combat the drug abuse epidemic and I will continue to support efforts to address inequities in our society.
“While I am deeply disappointed that the Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Reduction Act and its related bills do not provide the full funding necessary to confront the rising numbers of overdose death and addiction, I believe these legislative efforts will begin to address the fight against opioid and heroin abuse. It is my hope that the conversations my colleagues and I had on the piecemealed legislation that came to the House Floor this week will be the beginning of a much larger fight to secure the resources and funding necessary to meaningfully address this crisis and treat the overdose and addiction affecting our communities.
“The scourge of this disease is not limited to single cities or groups. As Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, I have personally fought for the wellbeing of our service members and requested critical support in efforts to address opioid misuse, abuse, addiction, overdose and death. I submitted an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, directing the Secretary of Defense to submit a report to Congress on the DOD’s efforts to prevent, educate and treat prescription opioid drug abuse.
“While the current crisis we face in opioid abuse is extraordinarily important, we must remain cognizant of the unfinished business in the sentencing disparity between crack vs. powder cocaine. That these are essentially two separate forms of the same substance remains a significant issue that cannot be overlooked. In 2010, I supported the passage of S. 1789, the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, which reduced the sentencing disparity between offenses for crack and powder cocaine from 100:1 to 18:1. It also eliminated the mandatory minimum sentence for simple possession offenses. The 100:1 ratio was scientifically unjustifiable, and resulted in individuals of color being targeted and jailed with disproportionately longer sentences.
“In the current Congress, I am a supporter of a number of bills that work to correct this historical inequity. H.R. 1252, the Fair Sentencing Clarification Act, would make the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 retroactively applicable to federal prisoners serving mandatory minimum sentences for crack cocaine. I also co-sponsored H.R. 1255, the Fairness in Cocaine Sentencing Act, which would eliminate disparity between crack cocaine and powder cocaine sentences entirely – creating a 1:1 ratio. This legislation would combat inequities in our justice system, requiring that the same amount of each drug triggers the same sentence.
“We know that in order to pursue true racial justice we must re-examine the role of our justice system as the spearhead against the disease of drug addiction, challenging long-held assumptions and improving our system to emphasis prevention. Rather than focus on incarcerating Americans who suffer from addiction, we must focus on education, access to treatment services, and rehabilitation into society.  By doing so, we recognize the evidence-based fact that remanding these individuals to jail and prison is structurally, as well as morally, wrong. I applaud my colleagues for the bipartisan work accomplished this week to start addressing the issues of opioid prescription and heroin drug abuse, but know there is much more work that still needs to be done.”