Press Releases

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today voted to improve our nation’s military readiness, support military families, recommit to our efforts in Afghanistan and protect our nation from terrorism and unconventional threats.  He supported H.R. 5658, the fiscal year 2009 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which authorizes $601.4 billion to support our national defense, including $70 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Smith helped shape the legislation via his chairmanship of the House Armed Services terrorism subcommittee and an amendment he offered on the floor of the House of Representatives.  The bill passed by a vote of 384 to 23.

“This year's National Defense Authorization Act is a good product, especially considering its language and funding to restore readiness and support military families. Our forces are under a great deal of strain because of their deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, so we provided almost $2 billion above the President’s request to fill readiness gaps. The bill also prioritizes our troops by giving them a 3.9 percent pay raise to recognize their hard work and sacrifice and support them in every way we possibly can,” Smith said.

Recommitting to Afghanistan

  • Our efforts in Afghanistan continue to suffer due to a disproportionate focus on Iraq.  The NDAA attempts to rectify this imbalance in a region of the world critical to our fight against al-Qaida and their allies.  The bill:
  • Requires the Administration to de-link its future budget requests for Afghanistan from those for Iraq to enhance transparency and congressional oversight. 
  • Requires detailed reports on the training of the Afghan National Security Forces - the cornerstone of our counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan.

“Our national security interests would be best served by a responsible redeployment from Iraq and a greater emphasis on our Afghanistan commitment.  Recently I introduced a resolution calling for such redeployment and a better balance in our defense policy.  I am pleased the NDAA this year will help Congress oversee and prioritize our efforts in Afghanistan,” Smith said.

Protecting Our Nation from Terrorism and Unconventional Threats

The Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee’s (HASC) portion of the NDAA fully resources and enhances the Defense Department’s ability to combat terrorism, fight smarter in the realm of irregular warfare, and counter other unconventional threats to our nation’s security.  Smith chairs the terrorism panel.  The bill:

  • Supports expansion of our special operations forces (SOF) – the “tip of the spear” in our fight against terrorism and extremism – and provides needed equipment and support.  The legislation includes $185 million above the President’s request to fund eight top priorities of U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), including advanced aircraft survivability systems, advanced sniper scopes and body armor vests.
  • Prioritizes “irregular warfare,” including counterinsurgency, stability operations, and strategic communications.  The NDAA requires an Assistant Secretary of Defense be tasked to manage irregular warfare to ensure needed support and attention from the Pentagon.  The bill includes a $90 million increase for embedded cultural advisors in Iraq and Afghanistan and requires the creation of a management board to enhance coordination of the Defense Department’s (DoD) counter-terrorism strategic communication efforts. 
  • Enhances DoD’s use of technology and includes language and funding to help protect the United States from unconventional attacks.  The NDAA funds needed science and technology (S&T) research, streamlines our acquisition process for commercial information technology (IT) for the military, and mandates greater coordination and collaboration between DoD and the VA.  The bill adds funds for the Chemical-Biological Defense Program, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, and other homeland defense initiatives.  The NDAA also clarifies the President’s authority to use the Reserves during national emergencies.  These provisions ensure our military remains up-to-date and ready to prevent and respond to major attacks on the homeland.

The bill must be approved by the Senate before the President can sign it into law.

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today won approval for his amendment to the fiscal year 2009 National Defense Authorization Act to enhance U.S. efforts to combat the spread of violent terrorist ideology.  The Smith Amendment would address major gaps in our counter-terrorism strategy by requiring the President to develop a comprehensive interagency strategy for strategic communication and public diplomacy.  The House of Representatives approved the amendment during consideration of H.R. 5658, which passed by a vote of 384 to 23.

“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.

The Smith Amendment:

  • Requires the President to develop a comprehensive interagency strategy for strategic communication and public diplomacy by the end of 2009; 
  • Increases Congressional oversight by requiring the Administration to report to Congress on the State and Defense Departments’ respective roles in strategic communication and public diplomacy; and 
  • Requires the Administration to assess and report back to Congress on the Defense Science Board’s recommendation that the U.S. establish an independent, non-profit organization to support the U.S. government’s strategic communication efforts.

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 offered his 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 H.R. 5658 before the Smith Amendment becomes law.

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today released the following statement regarding his vote against H.R. 2419, the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, commonly referred to as the Farm Bill:

“The bill passed today by the House of Representatives contained many positive provisions, including several that would benefit Washington state.  Unfortunately, the core of the bill retained its wasteful, trade-distorting subsidies and represents a missed opportunity for real agricultural and trade policy reform.

“This year’s Farm Bill did contain provisions which I could have supported on their own, including an additional $10.4 billion for nutrition programs to help Americans afford healthy food.  The bill also contained funds to mitigate massive salmon season closures in our state, along with tax relief for timber producers.  This year’s Farm Bill also included welcome assistance for fruit, vegetable and specialty crops, along with research to aid global competitiveness of our Washington state farmers.  Any of these provisions would have been policies I could support had the overall bill not been so fundamentally flawed.

“The fact is that our agriculture policy contains wasteful, market-distorting subsidies that insult taxpayers and hamper our nation’s economic growth prospects by undermining our trade policies.  Our farm programs and those of other developed countries have been a central factor in blocking a breakthrough in global trade negotiations at the World Trade Organization (WTO).  This stalemate over agriculture policy is preventing the conclusion of an agreement that could bring hundreds of billions of dollars of growth to the global economy, with major benefits for American manufactures, workers, farmers, and consumers alike.  Few would benefit more from such a deal than residents of Washington State, where one in three jobs is linked to global trade.  But this five-year bill misses that key opportunity by reauthorizing billions of dollars in market-distorting subsidies, effectively tying the next President’s hands in global trade negotiations.  We can’t afford to take that step backwards.

“Aside from the trade concerns, the subsidy programs in the Farm Bill waste taxpayer dollars on too many well-off farmers that don’t need the help.  The bill provides for subsidies to be paid to farming households with a combined income of up to $2.5 million dollars.  The authors of the bill missed an opportunity to move ahead with real reform, instead opting for a mere 0.6 percent cut to the most wasteful type of subsidies.  This is not real reform.

“This bill contained many peripheral provisions that could have been of benefit to American families and to Washington state in particular.  It is unfortunate, however, that the core of the bill remains so fundamentally flawed.”

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today issued the following statement regarding his votes today on the Iraq and Afghanistan war supplemental funding bill.

“The bill we voted on in the House today included a timeline, a plan and funds for a responsible redeployment of our troops from Iraq.  I voted for the overall package because I remain supportive of a responsible redeployment policy that supports our troops.  Unfortunately, we were not able to get the votes for the full redeployment package, in large part due to more than 100 House Republicans who refused to vote in favor of funds for troops in harm’s way.

“I strongly support a change in our nation’s Iraq policy.  I have never supported an abrupt cutoff of funds that would lead to a precipitous, irresponsible withdrawal, and I have voted against previous war funding bills that lacked real policy changes in Iraq.  I was encouraged that this legislation contained all the elements needed to properly draw down our commitment in Iraq, and I hope the next administration promptly begins a responsible redeployment to better serve our national security interests.”

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) today introduced legislation to address national Medicare reimbursement disparities that hurt Washington state.  The legislation, which Murray and Smith first introduced in 2002, raises Washington state’s Medicare reimbursement rates to the national average and ensures that all states receive at least the national average of per-patient spending.  The MediFair Act ensures that Washington state’s seniors are on par with seniors around the country and stops punishing the state’s health care system for providing efficient, quality care.

“Washington state’s Medicare program is one of the most efficient in the country.  The federal program punishes our lack of waste and low utilization through very low reimbursement rates for our seniors and health care system.  We should reward good government, not punish it, and the MediFair Act is a good step in that direction,” Smith said.

"Washington state seniors have spent their lives working hard, raising their families, and paying into the Medicare system. But when they retire, they find that their access to health care depends upon where they happen to live," Senator Murray said. "The MediFair Act is a starting point for eliminating the regional inequities in Medicare. Our bill ensures that seniors are not penalized when they choose to retire and that doctors aren't forced to choose between staying in business or taking Medicare patients."

The MediFair Act will ensure Washington’s seniors and health care system get fair treatment from the federal Medicare program and reward efficiency instead of punishing it.   The bill increases reimbursement rates for Washington state to the national average and directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to require other states be more efficient.

The federal Medicare and Medicare Advantage systems cover health care for senior citizens by reimbursing doctors, hospitals, home health care, nursing homes and HMOs.  Washington state worked hard to create an efficient Medicare system.  Instead of rewarding Washington state’s responsible administration of their program, the federal government’s payment formula repays our state with one of the lowest reimbursement rates in the country. 

In 2003, for example, per capita spending under traditional Medicare was $5,661 for beneficiaries in Seattle, $9,752 for those in Los Angeles, and $11,340 for those in Miami. Continuing cuts to the Medicare program hit our state particularly hard and cause Medicare providers and insurance companies to seriously consider not participating in the Washington state Medicare program.  We need to protect choice for our seniors and ensure they can find a Medicare provider when they seek medical care.

Smith and Murray introduced the MediFair Act in their respective chambers of Congress on Thursday.  U.S. Reps. Brian Baird (D-Wash.), Norm Dicks (D-Wash.),  Jay Inslee (D-Wash.), Rick Larsen (D-Wash.) and Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) cosponsored the bill. The House and the Senate must approve their versions of the legislation before the President can sign it into law.  Smith and Murray introduced similar legislation in 2005.