Press Releases

Congressman Adam Smith released the following statement recognizing the 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act:

“Having free and fair elections is essential for our democracy, and for 50 years now, the Voting Rights Act has played a critical role in protecting individuals’ right to vote regardless of race, ethnic background, or level of income.  In Congress, we must do all we can to build on the Voting Rights Act and make it easier for folks to vote rather than make it harder with Voter ID laws and other discriminatory practices.  That is why I am a cosponsor of H.R. 3364, introduced by Rep. Rick Larsen, which would allow voters to sign a written statement to affirm their identity if they do not have an ID.  I also support the Voter Empowerment Act of 2015 introduced by Rep. John Lewis which would require states to have online voter registration and make grants available to increase voter registration.  I understand the importance of promoting balance, openness, and fairness in elections and I will fight for policies that protect and improve upon the Voting Rights Act.”

Congressman Adam Smith reintroduced the Rural Economic Vitalization Act (REVA), a bill that would address the wasteful, environmentally damaging, and economically inefficient federal grazing policy on our public lands. This legislation would change federal law to allow ranchers with grazing permits to voluntarily relinquish their permits to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service in exchange for private market compensation.  It would further allow the BLM and U.S. Forest Service to permanently retire the grazing permit.  

“Our current federal grazing policy is inefficient, wasteful, and must be addressed,” said Congressman Adam Smith.  “By allowing ranchers with grazing permits to voluntarily relinquish their permits, this legislation is a win for all involved as it saves the American taxpayer money, gives public lands the chance to rebuild their natural habitats, and provides ranchers with more financial opportunities.  This bill opens the door for private solutions to a long-standing problem and eliminates wasteful spending while saving taxpayer dollars.”

Representative Raul Grijalva joined Congressman Smith in introducing the legislation, saying “grazing is an important use of our public lands, but it's a very impactful use. Excessive grazing impacts wildlife habitat, soil composition, local hydrology, and even heightens the impacts of climate change. Retiring some permits will help save taxpayer money and benefit federal conservation efforts. Right now, when we are looking for ways to save taxpayer money, REVA is a win-win. Ranchers that want to retire their permits should have that opportunity.”

Current law does not allow for the retirement of grazing permits.  This has impacts on wildlife, watersheds, and the surrounding ecosystem, which continue to be harmed by domestic livestock grazing.  In addition to the environmental issues, the federal grazing program is heavily subsidized and costs American taxpayers over $117 million a year.  In Fiscal Year 2014, the BLM and U.S. Forest Service spent $134 million on grazing management, but only reported collecting $17 million in grazing fees.   

Click here for a fact sheet on REVA.

Congressman Adam Smith released the following statement after the President and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the Clean Power Plan: 

“Pollution from power plants is the single largest source of carbon pollution in the United States and I applaud the EPA and the Administration for their efforts to address it.  The finalization of the Clean Power Plan is a significant step towards combating climate change and conserving our natural resources for future generations. 
“Climate change and air pollution disproportionately affect low income families, communities of color, and vulnerable populations like children and the elderly. We need to be doing more to protect our community. This final rule sends a strong message that the United States is committed to addressing this issue. As Congress holds hearings and debates on clean energy and climate legislation, I will focus on investing in clean energy and energy efficiency technologies, while reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and combating climate change to ensure the well-being of future generations.”

In the Social Security Commission’s annual report released last week, the Commission warned of major shortfalls in Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) that will result in a 19 percent reduction in benefits for 11 million disabled Americans starting in 2016 if Congress doesn’t act.  Today, Congressman Smith cosponsored the One Social Security Act to prevent these cuts and to help ensure individuals get the benefits they deserve. 

“It is critical that we preserve the guarantee associated with Social Security and continue the system in a sustainable way.  This legislation would prevent 11 million disabled Americans from facing harmful cuts to their Social Security benefits without adding a penny to the deficit and without changing the overall financial standing of the program.  By simply unifying the two existing Social Security funds, the One Social Security Act will prevent SSDI from running out, and ensure disabled workers get the benefits they have earned,” Adam explained.
A 1956 law required the government to distribute Social Security in two separate funds: one triggered by retirement or death (Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance–or OASDI) and the other by a severe injury or illness (SSDI).  This separation makes it harder for the much smaller amount of SSDI beneficiaries to access OASDI funds, despite disabled workers having fully contributed to Social Security as a whole.   As a result, Congress has periodically been forced to authorize the transfer of funds between OASDI and SSDI to ensure disabled beneficiaries get what they deserve.  This legislation would merge the two funds to streamline Social Security payments and ensure that SSDI beneficiaries do not see their benefits fall in 2016.

Congressman Adam Smith made the following statement after hearing about the death of Donnie Chin:

“I am deeply saddened to hear about the death of Donnie Chin. As the director of the International District Emergency Center, Donnie helped provide critical support and emergency services to the International District and he will be greatly missed.  My thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time.”