Press Releases

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and a bipartisan majority in the House of Representatives yesterday passed landmark legislation to expand U.S. efforts to fight HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis around the world.  Included in the legislation were provisions proposed by Smith and Rep. Elliot Engel (D-N.Y.) to combat tuberculosis.  The bill passed by a vote of 303 - 115.

“The HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis pandemics have caused immense suffering around the globe, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.  These diseases form part of a continuing spiral of poverty and disease in developing countries that threaten prospects for economic growth and stability.  This expansion was the moral thing to do, and I hope we can continue to build on it,” Smith said.

Congress passed the original U.S. Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Act on a bipartisan basis in May 2003, and appropriated $19.3 billion over the past five years for the program.  The measure, based on the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), has saved millions of lives worldwide.

The bipartisan measure passed yesterday authorizes nearly $50 billion over the next five years - $20 billion more than the President’s original request – to transition from an emergency response to long-term sustainability that can be maintained by host countries.  The bill also adds emphasis to tuberculosis and malaria prevention, including Smith’s language related to tuberculosis, the “Stop TB” bill.

Smith helped shape the bill’s tuberculosis provisions, which include:

  • Requiring patient referrals between HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis programs;
  • Enhanced testing and treatment in countries with high TB rates;
  • New strategies for attacking forms of drug-resistant TB;
  • Assistance for the World Health Organization Stop Tuberculosis Partnership to cut TB deaths and infections in half by 2016; and
  • $4 billion in funding for programs to combat TB for fiscal years 2009-2013.

The President is expected to sign the bill into law in the coming days.

Today, U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) paused with other Members of Congress to commemorate the 60th  President Truman’s Executive Order 9981declared that “there be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin.” While the full integration of the armed services did not come until October 30, 1954, when the last racially segregated unit was abolished, President Truman’s Executive Order marked the beginning of the integration of the Armed Forces. Anniversary of President Harry Truman’s executive order to integrate the United States Armed Services.
 
“Today, as we commemorate this historic civil rights reform, we also take a moment to honor the valorous service of members from various communities of color who answered the call and served their nation in the Armed Services. We have come a long way since President Truman’s order, with personnel from the African-American as well as the Asian Pacific Islander and Latino communities, among others, serving in great numbers throughout our military today. I couldn’t be more grateful for their service, or more committed to ensuring our military upholds the bedrock principle of equality our country represents,” Smith said. 
 
Congress marked the occasion today with a ceremony in the Rotunda of the United States Capitol. Smith also voted in favor of a resolution on July 14, 2008, recognizing the 60th anniversary of the Executive Order. The resolution passed the House unanimously.

U.S. Reps. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Mac Thornberry (R-TX) today called for a new United States strategy to combat the spread of violent terrorist ideology before a forum of 150 national security experts and practitioners.  Smith and Thornberry discussed their legislation, recently included in the House-passed Defense Authorization bill, which would require the President to develop a comprehensive, integrated strategy for strategic communication and public diplomacy.

“Strategic communication and public diplomacy were central to our fight against communism in the Cold War, and they should remain front-and-center as we work to roll back al-Qaeda’s and other violent extremists’ influence among disaffected populations.  Various organizations within our government work in some way to counter terrorist messages, but we lack a coordinated, comprehensive, adequately resourced plan to confront al-Qaeda’s ideology through a strategic message campaign,” Smith said.

Click Here to Link to a Video of the Forum

 Our nation’s multifaceted fight against al-Qaida and their allies includes efforts to counter their ideology – a war of ideas.  Terrorist groups aggressively push their narrative through new and traditional media with the aim of radicalizing and recruiting from new populations.  Through clever use of the Internet and a steady trickle of video messages distributed to and through the media, al-Qaeda drives its central messages and takes us on in the marketplace of ideas.  Numerous commissions and experts recommend improving the United States’ engagement with foreign audiences beyond traditional government-to-government relations.  Unfortunately, U.S. efforts remain insufficient to counter violent extremist narratives around the world.  Smith’s Subcommittee on Terrorism, Unconventional Threat, and Capabilities repeatedly receives testimony that:

  • The U.S. doesn’t have a coherent, high-level interagency strategy on these issues;
  • The State Department and Defense Department aren’t coordinating sufficiently; and
  • We lack focus and nuance in our strategic communication messaging. 

To address these gaps in our counter-terrorism strategy, Smith and Thornberry offered their good-government amendment through bipartisan cooperation and with support of the Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committee Chairmen.   The Senate and the President must approve the defense bill before the Smith Amendment becomes law.

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today issued the following statement regarding Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’ announcement that the Pentagon will re-open bidding for the acquisition of 179 new Air Force refueling tankers:
 
“The Pentagon made the right decision – and the only reasonable one – to correct the Air Force’s mistakes and re-compete the tanker contract.  The GAO’s investigation made clear that the original acquisition process was unfair and disadvantaged Boeing’s bid in several respects.  I hope this will mean that Boeing and our Washington State workers will get a fair shot at the new contract, but I’ll be watching this new process carefully to make sure that’s the case.”

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today helped pass legislation to expand housing assistance and supportive services for homeless veterans.  H.R.3329, the Homes for Heroes Act, which Smith cosponsored, overwhelmingly passed by a vote of 412-19.

“It is an absolute shame that after years of faithful service to their country, thousands of veterans spend their nights sleeping on the streets or are under the constant threat of becoming homeless. We must do more to support these individuals who served their country. This bill is a step in the right direction to ensure our veterans receive the support and services they need,” Smith said.

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, more than 400,000 veterans are homeless at some point during the year, with nearly 200,000 homeless on any given night. This makes up a quarter of the entire homeless population of the United States. Many more low income veterans and their families live at the margins and are at risk of becoming homeless in the absence of permanent housing solutions and supportive services. In fact, 1.5 million veterans have incomes that fall below the federal poverty level, including 634,000 with incomes below 50 percent of the poverty line.

Specifically, the Homes for Heroes Act:

  • Authorizes $200 million for an assistance program at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for supportive housing and services for low-income veterans.
  • Directs HUD to provide at least 20,000 rental vouchers a year for homeless veterans.
  • Establishes the position of Special Assistant for Veterans Affairs within HUD to coordinate and oversee the Department’s assistance programs for veterans.
  • Requires HUD to submit a comprehensive annual report to Congress on the housing needs of homeless veterans and the steps HUD has taken under the programs provided for in this bill.

The Senate must now consider H.R. 3329 before the President can sign it into law.