Press Releases

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. 

Rep. Adam Smith (WA-9), Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, released the following statement on the announcement that a deal has been reached between Colombia and the United States on key reforms that will advance the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement:

“I am pleased to see the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement taking a large step forward today. Now more than ever we must work with our allies to strengthen strategic and economic partnerships that will provide access to emerging markets for American exports and encourage job growth at home.

“I applaud the Obama Administration’s work with the Santos government to address serious labor and human rights concerns for Colombian workers. In addition to the enforceable labor standards included in the underlying agreement, the deal announced today requires immediate, concrete steps and resources to address violence against Colombian trade unionists and human rights activists, strengthen workers’ rights, and improve the rule of law. These reforms will remain a priority as we continue to deepen bilateral ties, and I believe such protections will be more swiftly accomplished through engagement rather than inaction.

“The Santos Administration is our ally and partner in South America, supportive of U.S. interests both regionally and globally.  They have been crucial in tackling instability in developing countries. Colombia’s experience confronting insurgencies and organized crime has improved similar needs in Mexico, Afghanistan, and across Central America. Continued dialogue and collaboration between our governments will improve security and ultimately make Americans safer.

“At home, the export-driven economy of Washington’s South Sound stands to gain from decreased tariffs and greater market share as more U.S. goods reach the growing market of 45 million Colombian consumers. I will continue to work with the Obama Administration to ensure a trade agreement that increases the competitiveness of American exports and creates good jobs in the U.S., while remaining vigilant about promoting American values of equality and workers’ rights worldwide.”

Congressman Adam Smith (WA-9), Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, released the following statement on House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity” budget proposal:

“America’s growing deficit is unacceptable and unsustainable. Reigning in spending and finding ways to make due with less funding will mean a certain degree of shared sacrifice at all levels of society as we put our fiscal house in order.

“Instead of finding a balanced, conscientious approach to cuts, the FY 2012 budget proposal set forth by Rep. Paul Ryan slashes programs for the middle class—Sets seniors adrift with Medicare vouchers to fend for themselves on the private insurance market; relies on block grants that would limit the number of Medicaid enrollees while shifting costs and risk to states; and encourages food stamp and housing assistance programs to expire for vulnerable families—all to pay for massive tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

“At a time when wealth in this country is becoming dramatically more concentrated in the hands of the very few, Rep. Ryan’s plan targets the most at-risk members of our society with the greatest cuts. Given the budget challenges we all face, it is intolerable to ask our nation’s working poor to bear the greatest burden for recovery, while handing a multi-billion dollar tax break to the rich.

“In my town halls, I talk to constituents about looking at the ‘whole pie’ to address deficit reduction. I am glad to see that the Ryan proposal confronts the need to reform more than just the small fraction of discretionary domestic spending being scrutinized in the House up to this point. All parts of the federal budget need to be on the table for a real discussion about how to fix our economic challenges.

“We’re currently experiencing the damaging inefficiency and uncertainty caused by a piece-by-piece approach to funding the government, and the debate over our FY 2011 budget is still going on. A responsible compromise must be found to move forward into 2012 with a budget plan that reduces the deficit while preserving the level playing field Americans are right to expect.”

Congressman Adam Smith (WA-9), Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, released the following statement about the World Trade Organization’s final report on the European Union’s claims of illegal subsidies to Boeing:
 
“I am pleased to see the World Trade Organization (WTO) confirming its prior interim ruling that the European Union vastly exaggerated its illegal subsidies claims against Boeing. This $2.7 billion WTO decision against the U.S. is only a fraction of the nearly $19 billion the E.U. had originally claimed, and nothing compared to the massive financial support Airbus has benefitted from in Europe for the past four decades.
 
“It became clear, after last June’s staggering $20 billion ruling, that the European Union’s ‘launch aid’ loans to Airbus far surpass any U.S. government support for Boeing’s programs. Indeed, the June WTO report asserted that Airbus would have a significantly weaker manufacturing share without Europe’s illegal subsidies, which distorted the market and cost thousands of American aerospace jobs.
 
“The United States Trade Representative is expected to appeal the findings from today’s final report, and the full extent of the ruling’s impact on Washington State is yet to be determined. However I am encouraged that the WTO has provided further verification that the playing field was uneven, and I applaud Boeing for committing to whatever steps are necessary to fulfill its WTO obligation, once the appeal process concludes.”
 

Congressman Adam Smith (WA-9), Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, released the following statement regarding the U.S. Army’s plan to form a new Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB) at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, a decision that will bring 1,400 new soldiers and 44 new helicopters to JBLM:

“The addition of 1,400 soldiers and 44 helicopters to Joint Base Lewis-McChord is terrific news for the South Sound and Washington State. It’s an honor for our community to become the home of another important military asset, and we will continue to see the benefits of job and business growth for years to come.

“The Army has carefully studied this issue and their decision to consolidate existing aviation units and establish a Combat Aviation Brigade at Joint Base Lewis-McChord affirms the strategic importance of the base. No other joint base in the nation sustains an operational force of this range and size.

“As the largest employer in Pierce County, Joint Base Lewis-McChord is a key economic engine for the South Sound. The stationing of this aviation unit will be another gain for businesses that serve the region, providing new opportunities for civilian job growth as well as additional military personnel.

“The population of the Joint Base 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. As more families settle into the JBLM community, I remain committed to working with the joint base, as well as state and local officials, at addressing the pressing infrastructure needs both on and off base.

“I would like to personally welcome the 1,400 new soldiers and families who will soon be calling the Pacific Northwest home.”

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(Please note: The Army’s Record of Decision will be in the federal register March 31, 2011).