Press Releases

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) yesterday voted for H.R. 3093, the fiscal year 2008 Departments of Commerce and Justice, and Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act.  The bill includes provisions that restore needed funds for violent crime prevention and community development.  The legislation also addresses the abuse of national security letters by the FBI.

“This bill restores important funds for local law enforcement to address the growing violent crime epidemic and to relieve the increasing pressure being put on our local law enforcement agencies.  We also fund key initiatives to help small businesses compete in the global marketplace,” Smith said.

“I am especially pleased to have been able to obtain $950,000 for the Washington State Meth Initiative to help fight methamphetamine use in our state,” Smith added.

H.R. 3093 provides $3.2 billion for State and Local Law Enforcement and Crime Prevention Grants, 53 percent more than the President requested.  These programs were cut by $1.9 billion from 2001 to 2006.  In 2006, the FBI reported that violent crime increased in 2005 and 2006.  These funds include restored investment in programs to support local law enforcement, hire new police officers, and strengthen services to victims of domestic violence.

The bill also includes $831.2 million for the National Institute of Standards and Technology Research to promote U.S. innovation and competitiveness.  These funds will support technology development, help smaller U.S. manufacturers compete in international markets, and help pay for the construction of research facilities.

H.R. 3093 also included language prohibiting the use of national security letters in contravention of the law.  A recent report by the FBI’s Inspector General identified FBI abuses of its authority to review customer records of suspected foreign agents.  The letters were inappropriately used to avoid regular procedures for obtaining access to these records.

Smith announced that the following projects that will benefit the Ninth District of Washington also received funds:

  • $1.1 million for an upgraded shared Automated Finger Imaging System (AFIS) for Pierce County, WA Sheriff’s Office and the City of Tacoma.
  • $950,000 for the Washington State Meth Initiative
  • $250,000 for the Nisqually Tribe of Washington’s Youth Justice Center
  • $250,000 for the Rainier Communications Commission for the acquisition of wireless routers to enable the pilot testing of a regional backup communications network for public safety and emergency response purposes, facilitating more effective emergency communications across Pierce County.
     

 

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) tonight voted for H.R. 3474, the Departments of Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and related agencies appropriations bill for fiscal year 2008.  The bill passed the House of Representatives tonight by a vote of 268 to 153.

The bill provides more than $107 billion for transportation infrastructure investments which are critical to economic development and growth.  The President has threatened to veto the legislation because House Democrats rejected several cuts to national infrastructure investments proposed by the Administration.  Funding restored by Democrats included mass transit, Amtrak, and community development programs. 

“Maintaining America’s aging highway and transportation systems is a vital component of our economic development.  The President’s cuts would impede the movement of goods and services which ultimately increases the cost of doing business in the United States.  I am pleased House Democrats restored these needed funds and voted to keep our economy going strong,” Smith said.

Also included in the bill were funds for projects in the Ninth District of Washington:

  • $14.076 million for Pacific Highway South Bus Rapid Transit between Sound Transit's Light Rail Station at 154th Street (north of SeaTac Airport) and the Federal Way Transit Center (near SeaTac Mall).  Once complete, travel time saved between the locations could be reduced between 12 and 15 minutes compared to current conditions.  This project is one of only four projects nationwide for which the Federal Transit Administration recommended funding under the Very Small Starts program in its 2008 New Starts Report to Congress.  
  • $500,000 to provide additional on and off access from I-5 in Federal Way, WA at SR-161/S 356th Street, alleviating safety and congestion issues.
  • $150,000 for the Bethel School District to provide a community center in unincorporated Pierce County that will support seniors, family and youth.
    The bill must now be passed by the Senate and signed by the President before it can become law.

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) yesterday voted for the fiscal year 2008 Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations bill, H.R. 3043.  The bill includes provisions that will expand health care access and college affordability.  H.R. 3043 passed by a vote of 276 to 140.

“Last night, House Democrats passed fiscally responsible legislation that will help improve access to health care for 2 million Americans.  This bill will make college more affordable.  It will help improve our schools.  And, it will provide needed funds for medical and educational initiatives in the Ninth District of Washington.  I was pleased to support this measure and I commend my colleagues for passing it.  The President should sign this bill,” Smith said.

H.R. 3043:

  • Expands access to health care for more than 2 million uninsured Americans. Invests in life-saving medical research by providing a $750 million increase for the National Institutes of Health.
  • Makes college more affordable by increasing the maximum Pell Grant by an additional $390.  This is the second such increase enacted by the Democratic Congress this year, with the previous increase raising the maximum grant by $260.
  • Helps raise the achievement levels of America’s students by providing $2 billion more than the funds allocated for 2007 and $1 billion more than the President’s request for No Child Left Behind programs. 

Also included in the bill were the following funds for projects in the Ninth Congressional District of Washington:

  • $200,000 for the Thurston-Mason County Medical Society’s Project Access for the uninsured
  • $150,000 for an institute for environmental sustainability in the workforce at Clover Park Technical College
  • $100,000 for facilities and equipment at Northwest Kidney Centers
  • $100,000 for the facilities and equipment at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance
  • $50,000 for after-school programs administered by Communities in Schools of Tacoma

The bill must now be approved by the Senate and signed by President Bush before it becomes law; unfortunately, the Bush Administration has issued a veto threat over the cost of the bill.  However, the legislation’s overall cost after adjusting for inflation and population is $2.9 billion below similar legislation passed by the Republican Congress and signed into law by President Bush in 2004.

 

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today issued the following statement in response to yesterday’s release of the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), which stated that al-Qaeda has a safe haven in Pakistan and regenerated top leadership:

“The National Intelligence Estimate released yesterday is the latest in a string of troubling reports of a rebuilding al-Qaeda working to strike American targets. 

“Specifically, the NIE states that al-Qaeda has a safe haven in the Pakistani Federally Administered Tribal Areas and that its leadership structure has regenerated.  The estimate also explains that the terrorist group is using our occupation of Iraq to recruit new members and finance global operations.

“These are troubling developments, and they indicate a key flaw in the Administration’s anti-terror strategy.  The Administration has not adequately focused specifically on al-Qaeda and their top leadership.  Instead we’ve spread our efforts across a broad range of terrorist groups and the conflict in Iraq.  As a result, we have given al-Qaeda a chance to regenerate its central leadership and gain capabilities not seen since before 9/11.  Our first priority has to be to target al-Qaeda’s top leaders and their organization, and our resources must be allocated accordingly.

“Unfortunately, we are not adequately focusing our assets on al-Qaeda and their command structure.  Currently we have a very high percentage our military assets focused in Iraq.  It is essential that we refocus on the Afghanistan / Pakistan border and other crucial battlegrounds if we are to effectively protect Americans from terrorist attacks.

“Recent news reports indicate that the peace agreement between local tribal leaders in Northwest Pakistan and the Pakistani government may have broken down.  This could be an opportunity for us to work with the Pakistanis to go after our common extremist enemies, but first we have to gain the trust of the Pakistani people.  The Pakistanis in this region face crushing poverty, and if we work with them to build a better society, we can both gain their trust and reduce the incentive for local populations to join groups like al-Qaeda and the Taliban. 

“The report also includes warnings about al-Qaeda’s use of modern communications technology to organize and proselytize.  Earlier this year, the House Armed Services terrorism subcommittee, which I chair, heard similar warnings from expert witnesses that the Internet has become a crucial battleground in this struggle, and that if we do not treat it as such, we will not defeat these terrorists.  The U.S. must improve its effort to monitor and counter these groups’ use of online communications.”

 

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today voted for S. 966, the Passport Backlog Reduction Act of 2007.  The bill addresses the serious backlog of passport and related travel document applications caused by the 2004 intelligence overhaul law which required more secure documents for travel between the U.S., Bermuda, Canada and Mexico.  The measure was passed by voice vote.

At the beginning of this year, the Department of Homeland Security began requiring U.S. travelers reentering into the U.S. by air to present secure identification, such as a passport.  This change resulted in skyrocketing numbers of qualifying document applications.  The legislation passed by the House of Representatives today allows Foreign Service retirees to retain retirement benefits when they return to temporary work for the purpose of easing the document application backlog.  

“The push to require high-security documents for international travel sooner than was feasible for a smooth implementation has seriously snarled our citizens’ ability to travel abroad.  The measure we passed this evening aims to rectify a problem affecting the summer travel of countless Americans by temporarily bringing already trained workers back into the system,” Smith said.

The measure passed under a suspension of the rules, a process which allows for the expedited consideration of legislation which must then be approved by a vote of two-thirds of the House.  The Senate has already approved their version of this bill, which must be signed by the President before it becomes law.