Press Releases

Smith Statement on Joining Democratic Whip’s Task Force on Poverty, Income Inequality and Opportunity

Today, Congressman Smith joined the Democratic Whip’s Task Force on Poverty, Income Inequality and Opportunity, chaired by Congresswoman Barbara Lee. Congressman Smith released the following statement regarding his new membership in the Task Force:

November 3, 2015

 “Today, I am honored to announce that I have joined the Democratic Whip’s Task Force on Poverty, Income Inequality and Opportunity, chaired by Congresswoman Barbara Lee. This Task Force examines inequities in our society and looks at policy proposals to expand opportunity in areas including higher education, job training and employment, and stable housing. I look forward to engaging with my colleagues on the Whip’s Task Force to work to remove barriers that stand in the way of hard-working Americans reaching the middle class. Over the past few decades we have institutionalized barriers that too often keep people in poverty and limit economic prosperity. This cannot stand and we must do better.

Americans today are confronted with a system where upward mobility has become increasingly out of reach. As the son of a ramp serviceman at the SeaTac airport, I often wonder how my family would fare under the same circumstances today. My father made upwards of $15 an hour with benefits for United Airlines in the 1980s. In today’s economy, similar jobs in our region often only earn $9.47, an amount that simply isn’t enough to provide for a family in King County.

I am committed to increasing the jobs here at home and ensuring that we have a strong, well-trained workforce.  Throughout my time in Congress, I have been working to do just that.  Not only have I supported robust investments in education and workforce training and development, but I have also supported programs to assist American manufacturers access new markets. Additionally, I have pushed to increase the minimum wage to ensure our workers are compensated fairly for their work and can be part of our country’s middle class.

In the coming months, the Task Force will continue to consult with key stakeholders and work closely with the Administration to develop support for a national strategy to eradicate poverty. We will evaluate the impact of anti-poverty programs, as well as the long-term economic outcomes of the Americans who receive assistance; and remove barriers and obstacles that prevent low-income Americans from joining the middle class. I am looking forward to working with the Task Force to develop policies that reduce poverty and create a better future for all Americans.”

“I am thrilled to have Congressman Adam Smith join the Whip’s Task Force on Poverty, Income Inequality and Opportunity,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee. “In Congress, Rep. Smith is a tireless champion for working families and good paying jobs. His work to advance American manufacturing in the Puget Sound region and across the country has helped lift families into the middle class. I look forward to working with Rep. Smith to build pathways out of poverty by raising the minimum wage, creating good paying jobs, and strengthening our safety net for vulnerable families.”

“I’m pleased to welcome Rep. Smith to our Task Force on Poverty, Income Inequality, and Opportunity,” said Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer. “From pushing for an increase in the minimum wage to supporting investments in workforce development and training, Rep. Smith has been a tireless advocate for working men and women. I thank him for his dedication to lifting more of our people out of poverty and into the middle class, and I look forward to working with him to continue to advance our agenda of job creation and economic opportunity for all Americans.”

Ranking Member Smith Statement on Bipartisan Budget Agreement

Congressman Adam Smith made the following statement on the bipartisan budget agreement:

October 28, 2015

“Republicans have finally engaged in constructive conversations that have produced a two year bipartisan budget deal. This agreement, reached by House and Senate leaders, would increase funding equally for defense and non-defense investments and will help ensure that our economy continues to grow while providing opportunities for middle-class Americans. Unfortunately, this deal does not eliminate cuts mandated by sequestration and does not fix our core budget problems in the long-term.

During the disastrous debt ceiling debate in 2011, Congress passed the Budget Control Act, which I opposed. While that legislation temporarily addressed the debt limit, it also stipulated that if Congress did not find $1.2 trillion in savings, sequestration would take effect. Sequester cuts were designed to be so damaging to our national defense, the economy, and other important federal programs, that Congress would be forced to act.  Since then, Congress has only been able to make progress with limited-term budget agreements.

Ideally, a budget must support our working families, invest in innovation and infrastructure, and advance comprehensive immigration reform. A responsible budget must create jobs and strengthen the middle class.  This budget agreement is not perfect and much of it needs careful review, but it is a move in the right direction. This agreement is preferable to governing from budget crisis to budget crisis and will allow for the American people to plan for the future.

This budget deal is paid for in a balanced way by ensuring that Wall Street pays the taxes they owe and cuts billions in wasteful spending. Furthermore, this agreement protects critical priorities, keeping intact programs that working families depend on and protecting Social Security and Medicare beneficiaries from harmful cuts. The deal will avoid cuts to the Social Security Disability Insurance program that are projected to take place at the end of next year and also avoids an increase in Medicare Part B premiums.

I have long called for Congress to permanently address the sequester. While the bipartisan budget agreement does not eliminate the sequester, this deal is a necessary compromise. The agreement will more reasonably fund our national and economic security through 2017, while ensuring the full faith and credit of the United States is not put at risk. Moving forward, Congress must eliminate sequestration altogether and implement a long-term spending plan that provides certainty to our economy, the Department of Defense, and the entire federal government.” 

Congressman Smith Supports Reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank

Congressman Adam Smith released the following statement supporting reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank:

October 27, 2015

“The reasons to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank’s charter grow each day. In 2014, the Ex-Im Bank supported 2,400 jobs and $28,586,427 in exports to minority and women owned businesses in the 9th Congressional District of Washington state.

Throughout my time in Congress, I have been a strong supporter of the Ex-Im Bank. I am a cosponsor of the bill introduced by Congresswoman Waters, the Promoting U.S. Jobs through Exports Act of 2015, which would extend the bank’s authorization through 2022 and would ensure that American businesses can continue to compete globally.  The bill also increases Ex-Im Bank’s financing limit to $160 billion and expands opportunities for small-and medium-sized businesses.

On October 9, 2015, I joined a bipartisan majority of Representatives in the House to sign a discharge petition to bring to the Floor a measure that would reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank. The most recent extension expired on June 30, 2015. Without the necessary re-authorization, many of Washington’s exporters will be unable to match increasing international competition from foreign companies that receive robust support from their own export credit agencies.

Today, I was proud to join my colleagues in the House in supporting the passage of H.R. 597 that reauthorizes the Ex-Im Bank. Extending support to the Ex-Im Bank is critical to maintaining and creating jobs in Washington state and around the country.”

Congressman Smith Statement on GEO Group Contract

Congressman Adam Smith made the following statement regarding the GEO Group’s Contract for the Continued Management of Northwest Detention Center.

October 6, 2015

“Last week, despite multiple hunger strikes, public protests over conditions, and lack of transparency in contract negotiations, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) signed a new contract with the GEO Group to operate the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC) for the next nine years and six months.”

“This contract is a symbol of systemic problems in our immigration detention system that we must fix. We need to get private, for profit companies out of the business of running immigration detention facilities and get those with pending immigration cases who pose no risk to society out on community-based Alternatives to Detention (ATDs). We also must ensure that there are clearly established, transparent and humane standards within immigration detention facilities.”

“One of the keys to achieving these goals is repealing the detention bed mandate. Due in large part to this misguided policy which directs ICE to have at least 34,000 detention beds for immigrants at any given time, private, for-profit prison companies run detention facilities. Under this policy, ICE is incentivized to detain largely nonviolent people whose immigration cases should be monitored through community-based ATDs. Last week, I offered an amendment to remove the detention bed quota from the short-term Continuing Resolution for Fiscal Year 2016. The amendment was rejected by the House Rules Committee, but I will continue to work with my colleagues to end the detention bed mandate.”

“We also need to make sure that local contracts, like the one just signed by ICE and GEO Group for the NWDC, have no minimum bed guarantees within them. Minimum bed guarantees are essentially detention bed mandates in individual contracts. I am a cosponsor of federal legislation that prohibits ICE from negotiating contracts that contain a minimum bed quota.”

“For those we must detain, we should have clearly established baseline standards for immigration detention facilities. My bill, the Accountability in Immigration Detention Act, outlines such standards as well as stresses the need for increased use of ATDs and elimination of the detention bed mandate.”

“In March, I wrote a letter to ICE Director Saldaña to relay the need for these changes with respect to the then-pending NWDC contract negotiation.  I am very concerned that this contract will continue the status quo by allowing NWDC to be managed by the same private prison company that has run it for years. Until Congress takes action to address these issues, we are left with a flawed detention policy that benefits private corporations at high cost to taxpayers, detainees and families of those affected.”

Congressman Smith Statement on Amendment to End Detention Bed Mandate

Rules Committee Rejects Amendment to End Detention Bed Mandate

October 2, 2015

Congressman Adam Smith joined Representatives Deutch, Foster, Watson Coleman, Castro and Polis in offering an amendment to remove the detention bed quota from the short-term Continuing Resolution for Fiscal Year 2016.  

“The detention bed mandate, first passed by Congress in 2009 and included in annual appropriations legislation, requires U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to fill 34,000 detention beds for immigrants at any given time. Rather than targeting enforcement toward individuals who pose legitimate risks to our community, this indiscriminate quota incentivizes the inhumane and arbitrary detention of thousands for whom we have no justifiable reason to detain in these facilities.”

“Due in large part to the misguided detention bed mandate, large, for-profit prison corporations that have the resources to build and maintain detention centers are left in charge of operating these facilities at a high cost to taxpayers, detainees and families of those affected,” said Congressman Smith, who has introduced the Accountability in Immigration Detention Act to address our broken immigration policy. 

On September 30, 2015, the amendment was rejected by the House Rules Committee. Congressman Smith will continue to work with his colleagues to rectify this issue at the next available opportunity.

“Until Congress acts, we are left with a detention policy that benefits private, for-profit corporations at the expense of immigrant rights and the American taxpayer.”