Press Releases

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) issued the following statement regarding the Defense Department’s (DoD) misguided bonus pay policy.  DoD rules preclude the payment of scheduled bonuses to troops who do not finish their tours of duty due to combat-related injury.  Smith cosponsored H.R. 3793, the Veterans Guaranteed Bonus Act of 2007, which would end this unfair policy.  Smith also signed a letter to the President decrying DoD’s misguided rules regarding bonus pay.

“This policy is unacceptable and must be rectified, especially at a time when we’re asking so much of our men and women in uniform.  I have joined U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.) in sponsoring legislation and calling on the President to correct this inequitable policy.  Troops wounded in combat deserve to receive the full amount of their bonuses, including future bonus payments they were promised but haven’t received yet,” Smith said.

DoD’s pay policy gained national attention after the Army demanded Private First Class Jordan Fox return almost $3,000 from a signing bonus promised to him when he signed up for military service.  Pfc. Fox was unable to complete his tour of duty due to a service-connected injury.  The Army has since stated that Pfc. Fox would not have to refund the already-paid portions of his bonus.  However, the Department’s wider policy remains unchanged: troops who cannot complete their tours of duty due to combat-related injuries are denied the remainder of their scheduled pay bonuses.  H.R. 3793 would force the department to pay out these bonuses in full within 30 days of a servicemember’s separation due to combat-related injuries.

“While I was glad to see the Army respond to a specific wounded soldier’s case and clarify that no repayment of enlistment bonuses would be required, that doesn’t go far enough; the department’s unfair bonus pay policy must change.  I’ll keep working to make sure wounded service members get the benefits they were promised,” Smith added.

 

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith issued the following statement in response to House passage of H.R. 4156, the Orderly and Responsible Iraq Redeployment Appropriations Act.  The bill provides $50 billion for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan while requiring the Administration to begin reducing troops immediately and to plan for a full redeployment of combat forces by December 2008.

“We are in the fifth year of the Iraq occupation.  The costs of the war include nearly 4,000 American lives and tens of thousands of Iraqi lives.  We have stretched our military to the breaking point and have not sufficiently confronted al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan.  And still, the President and his advisors have no plans to reduce our forces below the numbers that were present in Iraq at the beginning of this year. 
 
“This bill is the latest in a series of votes by Democrats to chart a new direction in Iraq.  It would provide short-term funds for the troops while requiring the President to begin redeploying troops within 30 days, and to provide a plan by February for the full redeployment of our combat troops from Iraq by the end of next year.  The bill would also transition the mission of our remaining forces to counterterrorism, limited support of Iraqi troops, and diplomatic and force protection.

“In addition, this legislation explicitly bans torture by U.S. government agencies.  That we should even need to consider such a prohibition shows the damage that Bush Administration policies have done to our nation’s credibility.  This ban is an essential step in restoring America’s moral leadership.

“Congress should not provide funds for the President’s policies in Iraq unless the administration and military officials plan for the end of our occupation.  Instead of pursuing a dangerous strategy of permanent bases – which would further frustrate our efforts to gain the cooperation of the Muslim world in confronting al-Qaeda – the President and his congressional allies should join Democrats in changing our policies.  I am disappointed that Republicans in Congress again blocked our effort in the House to build a veto-proof majority; as long as they continue to do so, our options in Congress remain limited.

“We have already seen what the administration’s lack of planning cost us when we began the Iraq war.  We should not repeat that mistake by failing to plan for the end of the occupation.”
 

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith today voted to invest in key infrastructure and housing needs by supporting the conference report for H.R. 3074, the fiscal year 2008 Transportation – Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill.  The bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 270 to 147.

“Recent events illustrate the need for this bipartisan, fiscally responsible legislation: collapsing bridges, aging highway systems, and a housing crunch threatening American families.  Congress passed legislation tonight that would invest in each of these areas to support our economy.  The President should withdraw his veto threat and join us in investing in our nation’s economic and social health,” Smith said.

The conference report includes key investments in our nation’s transportation system, including highways, railways, and bridges.  Congress also included funds to help Americans obtain affordable housing by increasing Housing and Urban Development vouchers.  The President threatened to veto the measure over objections to additional investments made by Congress that exceed the President’s inadequate budget request.

The conference report appropriates a total of $105.6 billion and includes the following investments:

  • $40 billion for road construction, repair and improvement;
  • $1 billion for bridge rehabilitation;
  • $195 million to complete the Federal share of reconstruction costs for the collapsed I-35 bridge;
  • Funds to renew all existing housing vouchers, and 15,500 new vouchers for veterans, the disabled, and low-income families;
  • A 500 percent funding increase for housing counseling during the sub-prime mortgage crisis to help homeowners stay in their homes;
  • $3.5 billion for grants for airport efficiency, modernization and safety;
  • $1.45 billion for Amtrak;
  • $110 million for air travel access to air rural communities; and
  • More than $85 million for pipeline and rail safety. 

Smith also worked to secure funds for the following South Sound transportation priorities:

  • $150,000 for a planned Bethel Community Center in unincorporated Pierce County that will support seniors, families and youth. The community center will help improve the health and wellness of senior citizens and youth, support educational programs, and provide physical education and recreational opportunities for the area’s 100,000 residents.
  • $14,076,000 for the King County Pacific Highway South Bus Rapid Transit, Seattle, WA. This is one of only four projects nationwide for which the Federal Transportation Administration (FTA) recommended funding under the Very Small Starts program in its 2008 New Starts Report to Congress.  The project runs from Sound Transit's Light Rail Station at 154th Street (north of SeaTac Airport) to the Federal Way Transit Center (near SeaTac Mall), a distance of 10.35 miles.  Once fully implemented, it will reduce travel time in each direction by 12 to 15 minutes.
  • $1,260,000 for Auburn A-B Street Corridor Connector in Auburn, WA. This project will connect a major north-south corridor by constructing a 1.47 mile missing link in the 3.5 mile A-B Street corridor, which begins at the Auburn Transit Station and terminates at S. 277th Street on Auburn’s northern city limits.  The project will consist of a new 3-lane and 5-lane road with sidewalks between 3rd Street NW and 14th Street NW.  The project will link three grade-separated arterials from the northern city limits to the Auburn Transit Station – a regional transit hub served by the Sounder commuter rail and local and express bus service.
  • $1,050,000 for the Lincoln Avenue Grade Separation at the Port of Tacoma in Tacoma, WA.  The grade separation will improve the rail connection between the north and south sides of Lincoln Avenue.  The corridor is critical to operations at the Port of Tacoma; Lincoln Avenue is a key connector to Portland Avenue, which is one of only two entrances to the Port from I-5.
  • $500,000 for FAST Corridor Grade Separations. These improved crossings at highway and railroad intersections along the I-5 corridor will better facilitate the passage of freight and vehicular traffic.
  • $500,000 to provide additional access on and off I-5 at SR-161/S 356th Street.  This is a critical segment of the overall Triangle Project in Federal Way: it would create a new access point to Federal Way and surrounding communities; direct access to surrounding businesses; and will alleviate safety and congestion issues associated with too few and outdated access points to the area, particularly the highly-congested intersection of SR-18 and SR-161, designated by WSDOT as a High Accident Location.
     
The community center will help improve the health and wellness of senior citizens and youth, support educational programs, and provide physical education and recreational opportunities for the area’s 100,000 residents.

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith today voted for H.R. 3996, the Temporary Tax Relief Act of 2007.  The act will prevent 23 million middle class families from paying the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) this April.  To pay for this tax cut, the bill corrects a tax inequity by closing loopholes for investment fund managers.

“The bill we passed in the House today will prevent more than 43,000 people in Washington state from paying the Alternative Minimum Tax this April.  And it does so without adding a dime to our deficit – a major break from the previous Congress.  Democrats are dedicated to preventing this tax increase on middle class families and this bill does so in a fiscally responsible way,” Smith said.

The Alternative Minimum Tax was originally enacted to ensure the very wealthy are not able to dodge paying their fair share of taxes.  However, because the income level triggering the AMT on a tax return does not rise as inflation rises, the tax now threatens middle class workers like teachers and firefighters.  The bill offered today provides a temporary fix to prevent more than 23 million families from being inappropriately required to pay an increased tax rate.

To pay for the temporary fix for the AMT, the bill closes a loophole for investment fund managers who receive “carried interest” as a form of income.  Currently, they pay a 15 percent capital gains tax rate on payment for services rather than a 35 percent income tax rate as other corporate professionals do for similar income from similar jobs.  The bill ends this inappropriate tax inequity for very high incomes in order to prevent unfair taxation of middle class families.

The bill also includes a $9 billion extension of the research and development (R&D) tax credit. R&D tax credits provide companies with incentives to invest in new products and ideas that promote our competitiveness in the global marketplace and energize our economy.  These incentives are part of the House Democrats’ Innovation Agenda, which Smith and the New Democrats helped craft.  The bill extends the research credit for one year.

Other helpful provisions in this bill include:

  • Property tax relief for 30 million homeowners
  • Expansion of the child tax credit to cover 12 million children
  • State and local sales tax reduction for 11 million families
  • College tuition deduction expanded for 4.5 million families
  • Classroom expenses deductions for 3.4 million teachers
  • Tax relief under the Earned Income Tax Credit for combat troops
  • The Temporary Tax Relief Act is fully paid for and will not add to the deficit.

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today issued the following statement on the U.S.-Peru Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which passed the House this morning by a vote of 285 to 132.  The agreement will lower trade barriers to U.S. exports to Peru and put worker and environmental protections on equal footing with commercial concerns.

“The Peru FTA represents a new direction on trade away from the excessively partisan trade debates we saw under the previous Congress.  Chairman Rangel and the Ways and Means Committee deserve credit for forcing the Administration to come to the table to hammer out a bipartisan way forward.  The FTA we approved today represents a real, bipartisan step forward in line with the agreement they worked out earlier this year.

“Prior to the policy agreement, progressive issues such as environmental concerns and worker protections were given far less protection in trade agreements than commercial issues like investor and intellectual property rights.  That made it much harder for the U.S. to leverage our economic strength to influence trading partners to make progress in those areas. 

“By putting strong labor and environmental safeguards on equal footing with other issues, we gain real leverage to enforce them.  This is the most progressive trade agreement to ever come before this House, and I am proud to support it.

“The Peru FTA will also help solidify our economic partnership with Latin America and support Peru’s efforts to grow and reduce poverty.  I visited Peru last year and saw the challenges posed by underdevelopment, as well as the potential that economic growth holds for improving people’s lives.  Our current trade preferences for Peru have fueled growth and poverty reduction there, and this FTA will make those preferences permanent.

“This FTA is a big step forward for our trade policy and I am proud to support it.”

Smith spoke on the floor of the House in favor of the U.S.-Peru FTA, and you can view video of his speech at http://www.house.gov/adamsmith.

You can find a photo from Smith’s 2006 trip to Peru at http://www.house.gov/adamsmith/photos/perutrip2006.JPG.  Caption:  U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) met with Felipe Llona, president of AGAP (Ag. Exporters Association), and workers on Llona’s farm about working conditions during Smith’s 2006 trip to Peru.  Photo credit:  Adam Shub, U.S. State Department.