Press Releases

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today issued the following statement after a House Armed Services Committee hearing on security and stability in Afghanistan.  The hearing included as witnesses Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff:

“It is clear following the responses of Secretary Gates and others that our efforts in Afghanistan suffer due to the depth of our commitment in Iraq.

“Iraq and Afghanistan are two countries of similar size and population. In Iraq, we have roughly 164,000 troops, including the bulk of our special operations assets, and we spend more than $11 billion a month.  In Afghanistan, the country used as a safe haven by al-Qaida while planning the September 11 attacks, we have only 25,000 troops and spend around $3 billion per month.  The mismatch results from our making Iraq the highest priority to the point that we neglect a key front in the fight against al-Qaida and the Taliban.

“The witnesses before the House Armed Services Committee gave a blunt summary of our approach in these two countries:  ‘In Afghanistan, we do what we can; in Iraq, we do what we must.’

“Secretary Gates avoided the obvious – that we need much of the materiel and manpower currently bogged down in Iraq – by saying he wasn’t ready to ‘let NATO off the hook’ in Afghanistan.  As important as it is to keep pressure on our allies to commit to the effort, that alone will not make the kind of difference we need to see in that country.

“When I travel to Afghanistan to talk to troops in the field and commanders on the ground, the simple message I hear is that we do not have enough troops and resources in Afghanistan to secure the region from the Taliban and al-Qaida.  The resources, manpower, and focus we need to succeed against those that actually hit us on 9/11 will not be available until we reduce our presence in Iraq.”

 

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today voted for forward-thinking energy legislation that would change the direction of American energy policy and protect the environment.  The bill changes federal incentives from reliance on fossil fuels to greater use of renewable energy sources.  Smith supported the Energy Independence and Security Act, which passed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 235 – 181.

“Prices at the pump, environmental quality, and the national security of our country are tied to our dependence on foreign and domestic fossil fuel sources.  The energy policy we passed today will lower energy prices, create new jobs, and make our country more secure,” Smith said.

“Our region has taken the lead in alternative energy sources for vehicles and electricity, along with energy efficiency standards.  This legislation would bring our national policies more in line with the progressive policies in the Pacific Northwest,” Smith added.

The fiscally responsible legislation passed by the House today pays for new initiatives by repealing tax breaks for oil companies enjoying record profits.  The revenues provided by closing these tax breaks would be reinvested in programs that support American innovation, energy efficiency and renewable energy sources.  This legislation is the first step in changing U.S. energy policies to a more forward-thinking framework that protects the environment and bolsters our economy.

The energy policy outlined in the Energy Independence and Security Act includes:

  • Green building standards.  Provisions in the bill would establish new standards for energy efficiency for building construction that could save Americans up to $50 billion per year.  Smith introduced green buildings legislation earlier this year and was pleased to see Congress focus on the issue in this legislation.
  • The first increases in vehicle fuel efficiency standards (CAFE) in 32 years.  The new standard would be 35 miles per gallon by 2020.
  • Establishes Renewable Fuels and Renewable Electricity Standards to increase the domestic use of renewable energy supplies, including American biofuels.
  • New energy efficiency standards for consumer products. 
  Provisions in the bill would establish new standards for energy efficiency for building construction that could save Americans up to $50 billion per year.  Smith introduced green buildings legislation earlier this year and was pleased to see Congress focus on the issue in this legislation.

President Bush threatened to veto the bill, a stance Smith urged him to rethink.

“This bill is fiscally responsible and would create new American jobs, make the U.S. more secure, and protect our environment.  The President should sign this bill when it makes it to his desk,” Smith said.

 

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.