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 voted to restore U.S. military readiness and to support our troops and veterans by voting for the conference agreement on H.R. 3222, the Department of Defense Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2008.  The legislation passed the House of Representatives today by a vote of 400 to 15.

“The strain on our military from the continued conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan has caused the worst readiness crisis since the Vietnam war.  Congress acted today to restore the capabilities of our Armed Services and to support our troops and veterans.  We also included funds for Fort Lewis to support the families stationed here and to improve trauma care in our region,” Smith said.

The conference agreement provides $460.3 billion dollars for the Defense Department and includes several investments to strengthen our military, including:

  • A 3.5 percent pay raise for our troops, larger than President Bush requested;
  • Body armor and armored vehicles for troops in Iraq;
  • Funds for depleted National Guard and Reserve equipment; and
  • Improvements in health care and assistance with red tape for wounded veterans. 

The bill also included funds Smith requested for Ft. Lewis-related programs, including:

  • $2,400,000 to expand the “Heroes at Home” pilot program that offers parent education and family support to young military families at U.S. bases including Ft. Lewis.  The program is implemented by the non-profit Parents as Teachers and works with military families throughout pregnancy until their child turns three.  Research indicates that young military families are most impacted by the stresses of military life and separation.  The program currently serves 78 children at Ft. Lewis.
  • $1,000,000 for Tacoma Trauma Trust (TTT) / Madigan Army Medical Center Trauma Assistance Program.  TTT is a partnership of Madigan Army Medicare Center, the MultiCare Health System, and the Franciscan Health System which administers this critical military-civilian emergency health care partnership. TTT helps deliver critical Level II trauma care to South King, Pierce, Kitsap and Thurston Counties and southwest Washington as well as much-needed trauma training for medical personnel.

Other regional military-related funding requested by Smith and included in the conference report included:

  • $2 million for Seattle Biomedical Research Institute (SBRI) to work with the Army to develop and test a new malaria vaccine.  Malaria is the top infectious disease threat to U.S. military forces deployed overseas.  The Gates Foundation also supports SBRI’s work with the Army, as a new vaccine could prevent malaria infection in developing countries around the world.
  • $1 million for targeted radiation cancer therapy at Madigan Army Hospital and the Puget Sound VA. This funding will be used to provide innovative prostate cancer treatment therapy for military personnel and veterans.  Calypso Medical Technologies, a Seattle biomedical company, will carry out this program using their cutting-edge targeted radiation tumor tracking technology. 
  • $1.6 million for high-tech aircraft inspections.  These funds will facilitate the development of advanced systems to perform more efficient and effective airframe maintenance inspections on the Air Force’s C-5 aircraft.  Quest Integrated, Inc. of Kent, WA, will carry out this program with its Induction Thermography System (ITS) technology.
  • $1.6 million for the Systems Biology Biomarker Molecular Toxicology Initiative – Institute of Systems Biology.  "Biomarkers" are various biological indicators of disease states, exposure to environmental insults such as chemicals and toxins, and/or individual susceptibility to pathogens and chemicals.  The U.S. Army Research Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM) studies biomarkers following very low level exposures to chemical nerve agents.  Institute for Systems Biology’s (ISB) innovative work supports RDECOM’s efforts.

Finally, the conference report included a continuing resolution to fund the federal government through December 14, including funds for the Department of Veterans Affairs at an increased rate over fiscal year 2007 levels.