Press Releases

Washington State Congressmen Adam Smith and (WA-09) and Dave Reichert (WA-08) introduced legislation, the Earmark Transparency and Accountability Reform Act (H.R. 3268), to reform the broken earmark system in Congress that has wasted taxpayer dollars and been abused for personal gain. This bipartisan effort, led by two members of Washington State’s congressional delegation, would set standards for accountability and transparency through more stringent measures as the earmarks are vetted through the Congressional budget process.

“Transparency ensures accountability,” said Congressman Adam Smith. “While many congressional earmarked projects – when vetted correctly and thoroughly – make positive and needed investments in our communities, some groups have found ways to manipulate the system in their favor. This must end and that is why I joined Congressman Reichert in introducing this legislation. We must continue to work to reform and bring transparency to the earmark process. This bill does just that.”

“Congress’ action to reform earmarks simply hasn’t gone far enough, and that is why we have taken the lead to reform the system with the best ideas from both sides,” said Reichert. “We are holding ourselves to these high standards and encouraging Congress to adopt them, bringing much-needed accountability to the entire process. Member projects or “earmarks” play an important role in our communities when they put federal dollars to good use, whether it’s to rebuild a road, or assist a hospital with a new project to save lives, but they must be done in a way that is accountable, transparent, that protects the taxpayer, and through a system the public can trust.”


Provisions in the bill to reform the system include:
  • Brings unprecedented transparency by requiring that any bill with an earmark be available online for review at least 72 hours before the legislation is brought to the House floor, all earmark requests be posted online for public review on the House Clerk’s website, and all earmark language must be incorporated into the text of the bill;
  • Enacts line item veto authority for earmarked bills;
  • Establishes a regular audit process for federally funded projects;
  • Requires disclosure of money spent by private groups lobbying on behalf of earmarks; and,
  • Prohibits earmarks from being slipped into bills after House/Senate passage.

Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09) secured funding for two local transportation projects that will make key investments in local infrastructure to reduce traffic congestion and modernize public transportation.

“In order to sustain long term economic growth we must make wise investments in our national infrastructure. This bill represents our commitment to ensuring that we continue to have the infrastructure necessary to compete in a global economy now, and into the future,” said Congressman Adam Smith. “Additionally, these projects will help modernize our local public transportation, reduce traffic and create jobs.”

The project funding was secured in the Fiscal Year 2010 House Transportation and Housing Appropriations Bill, which provides critical resources to maintain and improve our nation’s airports, highways, passenger rail and transit systems.  
 
This bill builds on the work of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and our long term economic plan to invest in job development for those hurt most by the economic downturn.  Additionally, it makes improvements for highways, public transit, and airports that will put our economy on sound footing for the future.  

Smith secured funding for the following projects:

  • $300,000 for the 70th Avenue East & Valley Avenue East Corridor Project.  This project will widen Valley Avenue East and intersectional segments of 70th Avenue East in order to reduce existing congestion and delays, reduce accident potential, and improve freight movement.
  • $500,000 Clean Fuel Buses in Pierce County. This project will fund the purchase of six clean fuel buses in order to help Pierce Transit modernize its aging fleet and continue to provide high-quality transportation services throughout the Pierce County region in a cost-saving environmentally-responsible manner.

Washington D.C. – Today, Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) urged action to repair the Howard Hanson Dam and the levees along the lower Green and Puyallup Rivers. As the rain and flood season approaches, “the need for action and resources is imperative,” said Smith. In turn, Smith enlisted the support of Congressman Ed Pastor, Chairman of the House Energy and Water Development Subcommittee, which provides funding for the Army Corps of Engineers to repair and rehabilitate local levees and dams.

An excerpt and video of the exchange between Congressman Smith and Congressman Pastor is below. Click on the image below to view the full video.





Excerpt of exchange:

Mr. Smith: The Green and Puyallup Rivers, located in the Ninth District of Washington, were flooded by record levels of water in January 2009, causing cities along these rivers to sustain major damage.  Levees along these rivers are now in need of repair and rehabilitation, and when added to the other levees that were already priorities for the Seattle District, the need for resources and action is imperative.
    
Following the record high level of water behind the Howard Hanson Dam on the Green River, significant structural weaknesses were discovered.  Because of this damage, water levels at the Howard Hanson Dam are being held at lower-than-normal levels, drastically increasing the possibility of flooding along the banks below.  

This is extremely troubling as we are rapidly approaching the upcoming rain and flood season.  If the Dam were to fail, or if a strong storm brings a heavy level of rain, then the levees below are at a serious risk of being breached, causing significant property damage and driving large numbers of people from their homes and businesses.

I respectfully ask to work with the Gentleman to ensure that the Seattle District of the Army Corps of Engineers is responsive to the flood prevention needs of those along the lower Green and Puyallup Rivers, and will make the repair of their levees a top priority.  I also ask to work with the Subcommittee to make the resources needed to fix the Howard Hanson Dam available in a timely manner, as they are identified.

Mr. Pastor:  I thank the gentleman for drawing the Subcommittee’s attention to this very serious issue.  He has been a dedicated advocate for the people of the Ninth District of Washington and the surrounding areas.  We will work with the gentleman to ensure that the Seattle District of the Corps is responsive to the needs of the cities and people along the lower Green and Puyallup Rivers, and that adequate resources are available to repair the Howard Hanson Dam.





Washington, DC – Today, Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09) voted to support our veterans and military personnel by funding critical veterans programs and health services, as well as the construction of key military facilities. This included vitally important projects and services for troops and veterans in the 9th Congressional District.

“As someone who represents thousands of military veterans and their families, I believe we have an obligation to provide them with the benefits and treatment they deserve,” said Congressman Adam Smith. “This legislation accomplishes that by providing $108.9 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs, a $14.5 billion increase over Fiscal Year 2009.”

The Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act will strengthen quality health care for more than six million patients – including 419,000 veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The bill also provides important funding for mental health programs, assistance to homeless veterans, and to improve access for veterans in rural areas.  In addition, the bill provides advance appropriations for veterans health services in 2011, so the funding stream for our veterans’ health care is timely and reliable.

“This bill will also help to construct, maintain and enhance our local and national military facilities,” said Smith. “Specifically, I was pleased to see funds included for the construction of a Joint Access Road between Ft. Lewis and McChord Air Force Base – a project I worked to secured funds for because of its importance to my district.”

To support our military, the bill provides the funding necessary to meet their construction needs. Specifically, the bill provides funding to accelerate the Army’s program to modernize housing facilities, address the unfunded construction requirements of the Guard and Reserves, and construct military child care centers and military family housing.

Locally, the bill provides $150,836,000 for a variety of construction projects at Ft. Lewis and McChord Air Force Base, including $9 million requested by Congressman Smith for a joint access road between the installations. The access road will help alleviate congestion on Interstate 5 by providing travel between the two bases and provide a deployment route for the air transportation of Army vehicles and equipment.

The 2010 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act is one of 12 annual appropriations bills that fund Federal Government programs and services.  For a full summary of the bill visit the House Appropriations Committee.

The bill must now be approved by the Senate before it can be sent to the President to be signed in to law.

 
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Today, Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09) and Congressman Dave Reichert won support for an amendment to H.R. 2965, The Small Business Research and Innovation Act, to strengthen participation of disabled veterans, women and minority owned businesses. H.R. 2965 modernizes and reauthorizes the government’s largest small business research and development programs - the amendment offered by Smith and Reichert ensures the government casts the widest net possible in administering these grant programs.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy,” said Congressman Adam Smith. “It is vitally important – especially in the current economic downturn – that we provide support and resources so our small businesses can grow and thrive. Additionally, the amendment I offered with Congressman Reichert expands the bill to ensure that disabled veterans, women and minority-owned small businesses receive the full benefits of this legislation.”

To see Congressman Smith speak about the importance of this legislation and his amendment click here.

The overall bill modernizes the government’s largest small business research and development programs, the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program, more than doubling the amount of the grants small businesses can apply for and helping them engage in cutting-edge research.

The amendment offered by Smith and Reichert builds on H.R. 2965 by giving preference to organizations that are in underrepresented states and regions, or are women, service-disabled veterans or minority-owned in the awarding of grants for Small Business Administration (SBA) outreach efforts. This will broaden the pool of businesses that participate in the programs by reaching out to rural entrepreneurs, veterans, minorities and women.

Supporting outreach to underserved areas and disadvantaged small businesses is essential.  Many small businesses are unaware of the resources that may be available to them, or incur additional, unnecessary costs just to apply for assistance or to navigate a complex government system. The amendment offered by Smith and Reichert addresses this problem by providing support for outreach efforts.

Since 1992, the SBIR and STTR programs have awarded 65,000 grants to small companies that are leading research efforts to cure diseases, strengthen national defense and reduce our dependence on foreign energy sources. Without action by Congress, these programs would have expired later this month.