Press Releases

Today, two key pieces of legislation sponsored by Congressman Adam Smith moved closer to the Presidents desk for signature. The pair of bills, The Veterans to Work Pilot Program Act and Military Family Leave Act, will support military families when their loved ones are deployed and will spur job opportunities for veterans when they return from their overseas duties.

 “The men and women of our armed forces and their families make tremendous sacrifices to serve our nation and keep us safe. It is our obligation to ensure they are provided the support that they deserve,” said Congressman Adam Smith.  “Together, these bills will help address significant problems plaguing our military community – high unemployment in our veterans population and the strain placed on families when their loved ones are deployed.”

 The Veterans to Work Pilot Program Act of 2009, which Smith introduced in November of 2009 has been incorporated into the National Defense Authorization Act of 2011. The legislation passed the House of Representatives today and now must pass the Senate before it can be signed into law. The legislation expands job opportunities by creating a 5-year pilot program to enroll military veterans in apprenticeship programs and employ them on military construction projects.

The legislation would specifically require the Secretary of Defense to designate at least twenty military construction projects per year where, to the maximum extent feasible, the utilization of veteran apprenticeship labor would be required. At the end of each year, and at the conclusion of the pilot program, the Secretary would be required to submit a report to Congress that, among other things, evaluates the benefits of employing apprentices who are veterans on Military Construction projects.

The Military Family Leave Act of 2009, which was introduced by Smith in July of last year, was also incorporated into the National Defense Authorization Act of 2011 by amendment. The bill would provide two weeks of unpaid leave to the spouse, children, or parents of a member of the military who receives notification of deployment or is currently deployed.

 While the Fiscal Year 2008 National Defense Authorization Act added a provision to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allowing military families to take time off for a number of reasons connected with a deployment, not all employees were made eligible under that earlier law. The Military Family Leave Act of 2009 seeks to ensure that all military families have the ability to take two-weeks of unpaid leave in response to an upcoming or current deployment of spouse, parent, or child.  

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Today, Congressman Adam Smith, Chair of the Air and Land Forces subcommittee, voted in support of the FY 2011 National Defense Authorization Act, a bill which makes record investments in our nation’s military. In addition to providing a 1.9 percent pay raise for our military personnel, the legislation lays out a balanced strategy to provide the resources we need to sustain the wars of today as well as prepare for the wars of the future.

“This bill is vitally important to our national security and I am proud of the support it provides to our troops and their mission to keep us safe,” said Congressman Smith. “I believe it strikes the right balance between fighting the conflicts of today, while preparing our forces for the challenges of the future.”

The legislation also includes some important provision for Washington State and the 9th Congressional District such as:

  • $184.9 million for military construction projects at Joint Base Lewis-McChord
  • $65 million for the Department of Defense Impact Aid program, which assists school districts serving the children of families stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
  • Extends TRICARE coverage to cover dependent children up to age 26.
  • $1 billion for 83 new Stryker vehicles, vehicle upgrades, and research and development.
  • $700 million for the separate National Guard and Reserve Equipment Account, for a total of $7.2 billion overall for Guard and Reserve procurement.
  • A provision put forth by Smith requiring Department of Defense to report on the impacts of illegal subsidies related to the KC-X tanker competition and whether such subsidies provided an unfair competitive advantage.  
In general, the NDAA authorizes $726 billion for Fiscal Year 2011 military activities including the Department of Defense, the national security programs of the Department of Energy (DoE), military construction projects, and other defense and military personnel activities related to U.S. national security efforts.

The bill must be approved by the Senate before the President can sign it into law.

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Today, Air and Land Forces subcommittee Chairman and local Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09) offered an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011 that will help shine a spotlight on the impact of illegal foreign subsidies on American defense industry workers and companies. The move pushes the Department of Defense to report on the impacts of illegal subsidies related to the KC-X tanker competition and whether such subsidies provided an unfair competitive advantage.  

"We cannot allow illegally subsidized foreign companies to take jobs and contracts away from American workers and companies through an unfair advantage,” said Congressman Adam Smith. “For example, if it turns out that Airbus is able to offer a lower bid than Boeing on the KC-X Tanker contract because they were illegally subsidized, then we should push the Department of Defense to take those subsidies into account. My amendment offered today will do just that."

The FY2009 National Defense Authorization Act required the Department of Defense (DOD) to review the impacts of subsidies related to the KC-X tanker contract after the World Trade Organization (WTO) releases its ruling and submit a report to Congress. Currently, DOD must initiate a review 10 days after WTO’s ruling is made public, which is expected this June. However, DOD is not required to complete its review until 90 days after the appeals process is final, and will not report to Congress until 30 days after completing the review. This means that any report on the impact of subsidies will not be made until after the KC-X tanker contract is awarded this fall.

To ensure that DOD considers the impact of subsidies this year, the amendment would require an interim report be submitted 60 days after DOD initiates the review required by current law. The interim report from the Secretary of Defense is directed to contain detailed findings on the impacts of illegal subsidies related to KC-X and whether such subsidies provided an unfair competitive advantage. The report must be submitted 60 days after the WTO’s ruling is released in June.

The amendment was adopted by a voice vote. Amendment language attached
here.
Congressman Adam Smith’s legislation to create jobs for Veterans has been reported out of committee as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2011 and is expected to be voted on the House Floor next week. The bill, Veterans to Work Pilot Program Act, will expand job opportunities by creating a 5-year pilot program to enroll military veterans in apprenticeship programs and employ them on military construction projects.

“We should be doing everything possible to ensure that our military personnel come home to good, family-wage, quality job opportunities,” said Congressman Adam Smith. “By calling upon the Department of Defense to explore the utilization of veteran apprentices in military construction projects, we are working to find innovative ways to help our veterans secure employment and ease the transition into civilian life.”

The legislation would specifically require the Secretary of Defense to designate at least twenty military construction projects per year where, to the maximum extent feasible, the utilization of veteran apprenticeship labor would be required. At the end of each year, and at the conclusion of the pilot program, the Secretary would be required to submit a report to Congress that, among other things, evaluates the benefits of employing apprentices who are veterans on Military Construction projects.

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Air and Land Forces Subcommittee Chairman Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09) released the following statement regarding his vote in support of the fiscal year 2011 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA):  

“This is a critically important bill, which ensures our brave men and women in harms way have the resources they need.  This year’s bill builds on the Committee’s efforts to support our military personnel, provide our forces with the equipment they need to perform today’s missions, and also ensuring that our military is properly resourced and postured to meet the future threats of the 21st century.

“The bill provides for a 1.9 percent pay raise for our military personnel, which is 0.5 percent higher than the President’s budget request. I am also pleased to see that the bill includes an authorization of $50 million for the Department of Defense Impact Aid program, which assists school districts serving the children of families stationed at Joint Base Leiws-McChord.  

“Additionally, in order to fund our reserves and National Guard at the appropriate level, this legislation provides an additional $700 million for National Guard and Reserve equipment.

“As the Chairman of the Air and Land Forces Subcommittee, I am pleased to see this legislation fully fund the President’s budget request related to the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) Vehicle and the Stryker Vehicles, the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and other Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Systems, as well as other vital equipment and systems used by the Army and Air Force.

“This bill is vitally important to our national security and I am proud of the support it provides to our troops and their efforts to keep us safe. I believe it strikes the right balance between fighting the conflicts of today, while preparing our forces for the conflicts of the future.”

The bill must be approved by the Full House of Representatives and the Senate before the President can sign it into law.

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