Press Releases

Rep. Adam Smith (WA-9), Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, released the following statement after U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk reported that outstanding issues around the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement have been resolved, and the Administration is ready to move forward:

“Today we are one step closer to the approval of a trade agreement with Panama. I support this agreement, which improves a key global relationship and brings economic opportunity to the United States and Washington’s South Sound.

“I am pleased to see Panama has taken the necessary steps to resolve outstanding issues, including exchanging important tax and banking information through the U.S.-Panama Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA). These changes improve on the enforceable labor and environmental provisions already included in the agreement. The Panama FTA will create jobs in the U.S., ensure fairness and accountability for American exports, while also solidifying our strategic relationship with a long-time American ally in Latin America.

“The South Sound’s export-driven economy, including the Port of Tacoma, will benefit as this agreement moves forward and more U.S. goods reach the growing market of Panamanian consumers.”

Congressman Adam Smith (WA-9), Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, released the following statement on the passage of the Department of Defense and Full Year Continuing Appropriations Act, which included a provision allotting $250 million in funding for schools on military installations:

“The creation of this grant program signals our abiding commitment to military families and the educational opportunities vital to their children’s future.

“$250 million dollars will be made available for improvements to public schools on military installations nationwide. This funding measure means the Clover Park School District has the opportunity to secure millions of dollars for renovations and new construction of elementary and secondary schools on Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

“The population of JBLM has undergone rapid growth since 2003, when then-Fort Lewis supported 19,000 military members. Today the Joint Base includes over 43,000 military personnel, and the Army has recently announced a plan to add 1,400 soldiers as part of a new Combat Aviation Brigade.

“As more families are welcomed to the JBLM community, schools must adjust to greater class sizes and infrastructure challenges. Going forward, I will work with the Joint Base as well as state and local officials to address pressing educational needs both on and off base.

“As Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, I intend to continue working on these issues as we begin consideration of the FY2012 National Defense Authorization Act.”

Congressman Adam Smith (WA-9), Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, released the following statement following President Obama’s presentation of a new budget framework:

"America must prioritize deficit reduction and get back on the road to responsible spending. To achieve this, we need to start an honest conversation about the stark numbers we face in tackling our massive debt and deficits.

"Last week, Rep. Paul Ryan introduced an FY 2012 budget proposal based on smoke-and-mirrors assumptions of the past: Ryan’s plan shrinks revenue by cutting taxes for the highest earners, slashes assistance for working class Americans, fails to address defense spending, and assumes an unprecedented unemployment level below 4%.

"Today, the President offered an alternative fiscal plan. I was happy to see the Administration placing more aspects of federal spending on the table, and ensuring that high-earners pay their fair share. However, it is clear the discussion has not gone far enough. While I applaud President Obama and Rep. Ryan for signaling the start of an open discussion about the budget, the American people need to hear specifics about the stark numbers we face in reconciling the money we spend with the amount we take in.

"The math is unrelenting: The U.S. spent $3.5 trillion last year, while taking in only $2.2 trillion in revenue, resulting in a $1.3 trillion dollar deficit in 2010. Balancing our budget immediately would mean a 33% reduction in spending, including massive cuts to entitlements and the defense budget that could destabilize job creation, economic recovery, and national security.

"Going forward, we must focus on two major strategic points. First, every piece of the budget should be scrutinized for possible cuts. As Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, I recognize that a comprehensive approach to reducing the debt includes examining defense spending.

"Second, we are not realistically going to be able to balance the federal budget this year or next without catastrophic effects on the economy. We can and must implement a plan to gradually reduce the deficit, moving us in the direction of responsibly balancing our spending and revenue.

"Given the size and scope of our fiscal problem, an honest conversation is necessary to produce a realistic path to fixing our budget and creating jobs without jeopardizing America’s economic recovery."

Congressman Adam Smith (WA-9), Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, released the following statement on the announcement by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden that Seattle’s Museum of Flight was not selected to house a retired space shuttle:

“I am disappointed to learn that Washington’s Museum of Flight was not chosen to display one of the retired Shuttle Orbiters. While the competition was fierce, our state’s place in the history of aviation, long support for the aeronautics industry, and commitment to the future of scientific research and innovation would have made an ideal home for a NASA shuttle.

“Despite this unsatisfactory decision, I am confident that the Museum of Flight will continue to educate and inspire the next generation of engineers, scientists and astronauts of Washington State.

“A team of community members, businesses, schools, and elected officials worked together to create a world-class bid, and everyone involved should be commended for their efforts to bring the shuttle to the Museum of Flight.”

Congressman Adam Smith (WA-9), Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, released the following statement regarding the pending shutdown of the federal government due to a lapse in funding:

 “If Congress cannot agree on or pass a budget for the remaining 2011 fiscal year, the government will shut down starting Friday, April 8, 2011 at midnight. I remain hopeful that a government shutdown will be averted. However, prudent management requires that we consider the implications of a shutdown if no funding bill is passed.

“If a shutdown occurs, the government stops all “non-essential” services. Services deemed essential for the safety of human life and protection of property will continue to operate, including the armed forces, border protection, air traffic controllers, and police and fire departments. For more information about how you and your family could be impacted, my office has posted answers to several frequently asked questions on the web.

“In the event a shutdown occurs, my staff will be answering constituent inquiries, pursuing casework as best they can, and assisting with legislative issues. This is a stressful time for many people who deal with the government, including federal workers and military families, and my office will be here to serve the 9th district.

“A shutdown would harm our economic recovery and cost our nation valuable jobs and money. As we move forward in budget negotiations, it is important that we work together to pass a responsible federal budget.”

What a Federal Government Shutdown Means to You and Your Family

The following is a list of frequently asked questions on how a government shutdown could impact you and your family.

Will I Still Get My Social Security and Medicare Benefits?

Yes. Benefits to this crucial program do not go through the appropriations process, so the Social Security Administration will continue to mail checks. However, a number of Social Security employees will be furloughed, which means services like new Social Security claims, hearings, or resolving complaints may not be processed in a timely manner.

Will Mail Be Delivered?

Yes. According to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, the U.S. Postal Service is self-sustaining and will continue mail delivery, retail service, and other operations in the event of a government shutdown. The Postal Service is essentially funded through the sale of postage.

Will I Get My Tax Refund?

Yes with a possible delay. Unlike the shutdowns of the 1990s, this one is going to take place during the tax preparation and filing season, creating confusion about the status of IRS operations. Tax forms still need to be postmarked to the IRS by Monday, April 18. Electronic tax returns should be processed normally during a shutdown, but paper returns will not be processed, which may result in delayed refunds to a number of Americans. 

Will Veteran Benefits Continue?

Yes with a possible delay. VA hospitals will remain open, and VBA disability compensation will be paid. New pension, education, or disability benefits could be delayed due to furloughed administrative staff.

How are Active Duty Military Impacted?

The Department of Defense has released guidelines related to the continued operation of our Armed Forces in the event of a shutdown: “All military personnel will continue in a normal duty status regardless of their affiliation with excepted or non-excepted activities.”

Additionally, Secretary Gates has guaranteed that military members will be paid as normal for their service during a government shutdown.

Because any delay in paycheck delivery would be a hardship on military and civilian personnel and their families, there is currently legislation pending in the House to pay troops if a budget compromise isn’t reached by Friday evening.

Further information on a government shutdown and military personnel is available from the Department of Defense’s website.

Will Unemployment Benefits Be Affected?

Depending on the length of the shutdown, the federal funds that help states pay the costs of their unemployment programs could run out, which would require the state to step in and advance the money to keep their programs running. In the event of an extended shutdown, benefits could be reduced or stopped.  Please contact Washington State’s Employment Security Department if you have further questions regarding your unemployment benefits at 1-800-318-6022.

Can I visit a National Park during a shutdown?

No. According to the House Committee on Natural Resources, parks would be closed to public use. “Critical” personnel would be kept in place for resource protection (and to tell people that arrive that they are closed). The National Park Service has informed the Natural Resources Committee that they do not expect to close access to open-entrance park land. According to CRS Report RL34680, 368 National Park Service sites closed during the last government shutdown, a loss of approximately 7 million visitors.