Press Releases

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!’”



Ranking Member Adam Smith Statement on Terrorist Attacks in Mali

Ranking Member Adam Smith released the following statement on the terrorist attack in Mali:

November 23, 2015

Today I join our nation and the world in mourning those who lost their lives in Friday's terror attacks in Mali. During this difficult time, my thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of those killed and injured. I extend my sincere thanks to the diplomatic security staff and members of the United States military who assisted in the evacuation efforts, as well as the French and Malian military forces for their heroic actions during the hostage situation in Mali. 

We must be unrelenting in our fight against terrorism.  We cannot allow ourselves to become numb to the terror attacks taking place throughout the world. The international community 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. 

Ranking Member Adam Smith Statement on Syrian Refugee Bill Offered by Chairman McCaul

Ranking Member Adam Smith released the following statement in response to the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and proposed legislation to amend the U.S. refugee admission process:

November 18, 2015

Our number one priority is protecting the United States and the American people from terrorist attacks.  In the strongest possible terms, I condemn the cowardly attacks in Paris and send my deepest sympathies to the victims.  As we fight terrorism, we must stay true to the values enshrined in our Constitution, remember that we are a nation of immigrants, and not let terrorist groups define or change who we are. The attacks in Paris highlight the continued challenge we face in the fight against terrorist networks.  

We must be very clear about what our current standards for refugees are. The United States thoroughly vets all refugees. For most refugee applicants, the process takes between 18-24 months. Applicants for refugee status are held to the highest level of security screening through which we evaluate travelers or immigrants to the United States. If as a result of the security process, U.S. security agencies cannot verify details of a potential refugee’s story, that individual cannot enter the United States.

Of the millions of law-abiding Syrian refugees, less than 1,800 have been resettled in the United States.  Refugees are subjected to a stringent, in-depth interagency vetting process that includes health checks, verifications of biometric information to confirm identity, and multiple layers of biographical and background checks, along with in-person interviews by U.S. officials.  Members of this interagency team includes the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center, the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security, the National Counterterrorism Center, and the Department of Defense.  These checks happen before an application is approved and long before a refugee would be able to enter the United States. 

We cannot let fear cloud our judgement, drive policy or destroy the fabric of what America stands for. We need to be strong and smart to fight terrorism.  Excluding all Muslim refugees feeds the anti-American narrative and empowers ISIS to wrongly paint the American people as anti-Islamic.  If we turn our backs on refugees, then we risk making ISIS stronger. 

The Republican Syrian Refugee bill that will be debated on the House floor would immediately shut down resettlement of refugees from the Syria and Iraq region. This rash reaction ignores the fact that all of the Paris attackers identified thus far are either French or Belgian and that many terrorist threats are homegrown. It is wrong to deny asylum to refugees on the basis of inaccurate assumptions, fear and prejudice.

We must continue to stand strong as an international community. As we face and address terrorist threats, we need to remember the phrase on the Great Seal of the United States:  “E Pluribus Unum”—out of many, one.  This means refugees from Syria and Iraq who are fleeing terrible conditions and persecution too.  As we move forward, let us unite to use the tools at our disposal - diplomatic, military, intelligence, and development - to defeat extremism and the terrorism it breeds.