Press Releases

Today, Congressman Smith voted for H.R. 1728, the Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act of 2009, aimed at curbing abusive and predatory lending. Yesterday, Smith voted for an amended version of S. 386, the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act, that would expand federal fraud laws to cover funds disbursed under last year’s $700 billion financial industry bailout and the $787 billion stimulus package. Together, these bills demand unprecedented consumer protection and stricter accountability and transparency for our country’s financial institutions.

“We are currently witnessing the long-term effects of short-term thinking,” said Congressman Adam Smith. “In order to restore our economic viability and ensure we lay the foundation for long-term sustainable growth we must restore accountability in the housing and financial markets and rebuild our economy in a way that's consistent with our values. These two bills are a step in that direction.”
 
“Over the last year as the federal government took steps to restore our economy I consistently called for strict accountability and transparency to ensure tax payers are protected,” continued Smith. “I also pushed for measures to address the problems that caused the economic crisis in the first place. These two bills begin to address the underlying problems with our financial system and protect consumers from the irresponsible and fraudulent practices that helped spur the recent wave of foreclosures. I will continue to advocate for additional consumer protections and responsibility in our financial markets.”
 
The Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act would authorize funding for the Department of Justice and provide them with the tools necessary to fight potential fraud of TARP economic recovery funds and in mortgage markets.  It would create a 10-member “Financial Markets Inquiry Commission” to determine the causes of our current financial crisis, and will analyze such factors as consumer and individual protections, tax treatment of financial products, corporate governance and executive compensation, and lending practices.
 
The Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act would outlaw many of the industry practices that marked the subprime leading boom, and it would prevent borrowers from deliberately misstating their income to quality for a loan.  This legislation is a crucial step in preventing and combating predatory lending practices.
 
The bill would ensure that mortgage lenders make loans that benefit the consumer and prohibit them from steering borrowers into the higher cost loans. It would establish a simple standard for all home loans: institutions must ensure that borrowers can repay the loans they are sold. Also, for the first time ever, it would make the secondary mortgage market responsible for complying with these standards when they buy loans and turn them into securities.
 
The bill also:
  • Prevents predatory and abusive lending practices by banning yield spread premiums and other abusive compensation structures that create conflicts of interest or reward originators that “steer” borrowers. The bill would require originators to disclose to consumers the compensation they receive from the transaction.
  • Hold creditors responsible for the loans they originate by requiring new federal rules calling for creditors to retain an economic interest in a material portion (at least 5 percent) of the credit risk of each loan that the creditor transfers, sells, or conveys to a third party.
  • Protect tenants who rent homes that go into foreclosure by requiring that they receive proper notification and are given time to relocate before the home they rent is foreclosed.
Congressman Adam Smith congratulated Arunan Mukphrom today for winning this year’s 9th District Congressional Art Contest.  His piece, a charcoal “Self Portrait” was selected ahead of 26 other entries by a five member panel of art enthusiasts from around the 9th District.  Arunan Mukphrom is from Kent and is a 10th grader at Thomas Jefferson High School in Auburn.

 “Arunan is a gifted artist, and I look forward to seeing his art work on display in the Capitol this year. His art work will represent Washington state very well.” said Congressman Smith. “I am also proud and encouraged to see so many young people from around the 9th District interested in the arts. All of the entries were unique in their own way and I hope all of the contestants continue to purse the arts and enrich our local art community.”

The Congressional Art Competition is an annual event that allows each Member of Congress to display one piece of artwork, created by a high school student in their district, in the Capitol for one year.  The Congressional Art Competition began in 1982 to provide an opportunity for members of Congress to encourage and recognize the artistic talents of their young constituents. This marks the 13th year Congressman Smith has hosted the art competition.

The winner and runners up were announced at a ceremony held at the Tacoma Art Museum on Saturday. First place honors went to Arunan Mukphrom of Thomas Jefferson High School.  In addition to having his work displayed in the United States Capitol building, Arunan will receive three round trip tickets to Washington, D.C. for the 2009 Congressional Art Competition Reception, a $1,500 renewable scholarship to the Savannah College of Art and Design, and several other prizes donated by the local art community.

Second place honors went to Chelsea Greenwood of Mt. Rainier Lutheran High School for her charcoal “Earlier that Day.”   Chelsea Tacoma Art Museum and Tacoma Art Place. Chelsea will receive memberships to the Tacoma Art Museum and Tacoma Art Place.

Kevin Olson of Federal Way High School came in third with his photograph, “Apple and Nails.”   He will receive 4 complimentary passes to Tacoma Art Museum and an annual membership Tacoma Art Place.

Honorable mentions went to Amanda Hainer of Auburn High School, Heather Woodside of Northwest Christian High School, and Chris Wright of Federal Way High School.

 
Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA) made the following statement in honor of Earth Day:
 

“Today we recognize not only the 39th annual celebration of Earth Day, but also a unique moment in our country’s history to make significant changes to the way we treat the environment. Over the last few years we have seen a ground swell of support around greening efforts and legislation to reverse and reduce the human effects on the environment. The evidence of climate change is real, the effects significant, and the impacts worsening. I am committed to conserving our natural resources and protecting our environment for future generations.  The time to act is now.

 We have come a long way in recognizing our responsibilities as stewards of the environment, but we have much more work to do. In Congress we are taking this issue seriously.  If we look at protecting our environment as an opportunity to build a clean energy economy, we can create millions of clean energy jobs, improve our national security by reducing our dependency on foreign oil, and develop renewable and safe energy sources like wind, solar and geothermal.

Protecting the environment is not just the responsibility of governments and private industries; it is the responsibility of individuals as well. By integrating energy efficient behaviors into our everyday lives, such as turning off lights or unplugging unused appliances, or simply recycling, we can collectively have a large scale impact on our environment and in conserving our resources. This Earth Day let us remember that the responsibility rests with no single entity or individual, but with all of us. As Congress works to do its part and private industries to do theirs, let us all remember that we all have a stake in protecting our environment for generations to come.”

 

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Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09) released the following statement concerning President Obama’s strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan:

“President Obama’s strategy puts America’s focus back where it should be: on the threat from al Qaeda.  For far too long, we had no strategy and failed to devote the resources and personnel needed to defeat al Qaeda and deny it safe haven in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  While nothing about this region is easy, the President’s first-ever strategy demonstrates a stronger, smarter, and more comprehensive approach to countering al Qaeda and its allies.

“In Afghanistan, our commanders have been calling for more troops for years, and the President’s plan will nearly double U.S. forces on the ground, with a particular emphasis on training Afghan forces to secure their own country. 

“The President’s strategy also acknowledges that military force alone is not sufficient to achieve our goals.  He calls for major increases in civilian personnel to help do the critical counterinsurgency work needed to empower Afghans to reject the Taliban and al Qaeda.

“The President’s plan also squarely addresses the daunting challenges in Pakistan, where al Qaeda enjoys a safe haven.  In order for the Pakistanis to work with us, they need to trust us as reliable ally.  The President’s pledge of an additional $1.5 billion per year in non-military, accountable assistance to Pakistan will help demonstrate our commitment and bolster that trust.  At the same time, the President commits to the kind of tough diplomacy and direct engagement needed to boost Pakistan’s effectiveness in fighting extremists.

“There are no quick fixes to this problem, and we will continue to face setbacks in this difficult region.  But the threat from al Qaeda still looms nearly eight years after 9/11, and I am reassured that President Obama’s strategy finally puts us on a path to eliminating that threat.”
 
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Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09), Chairman of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities, made the following statement after the Obama Administration announced it will dispatch two senior officials to Syria. Congressman Smith recently returned from a trip to Syria where he met with President Bashar al-Assad and discussed a fresh start to relations with Syria.

“The Obama administration’s announcement to dispatch two senior officials to Syria to begin to initiate dialogue is a positive development and signals a new direction in U.S. relations not just with Syria, but the entire Middle East. After visiting with President Bashar al-Assad a few weeks ago, it was clear that the regime seeks to begin the process of thawing its relationship with the United States and the West. While we clearly have substantial differences, we also have a number of mutual interests in the region and we should begin to discuss all of these issues.

 “The Administration is mindful of the challenges we face and does not believe they will be easy to overcome, but the road to solving our problems starts with dialogue. Syria can help or hinder the prospects of peace and stability in the region and it’s our job to persuade them to be a positive partner.  Sending senior officials from the Administration to initiate dialogue is a step in the right direction.”